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The Book of Job
An important thing to note in reading this text is that the word "Satan" means "Adversary" or "Accuser"; it does not mean "Evil One" (or anything of the kind), and it is not the proper name of the person who afflicts Job. To the the extent that "Satan" serves as his proper name, it is so only in the same way that "Adam"--meaning "Man"--serves as the proper name of the first man; it is a functional designation that has come to be regarded as the character's name.
Thus, we must be on our guard against reading the modern conception of "Satan" into the Book of Job, much as we had to be on our guard in reading Genesis 3 against the common fallacy that the "serpent" mentioned is some sort of bestial manifestation of the devil.
1Interestingly, the word "devil" in English--used these days, like "Satan," to refer to a supreme Evil Being or spirit held responsible, in Judaeo-Christian belief, for the temptation of man--comes from the Greek diabolos, whose literal meaning is "slanderer." Thus, both "devil" and "Satan" have, in the centuries since the Hebrew Scriptures were written, acquired a considerably stronger and more markedly negative meaning.
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