Devas and devils

mgansten at mgansten at
Sun May 5 09:40:17 UTC 1996

Dan Lusthaus writes:

>The etymology you trace out is indeed typical and correct, but you are
>picking up the trail too late. (---)
>If it is not sheer neglect or oversight that has failed to make the link
>between daiwa and devil better known (since the whole sons of darkness
>ideology came into Western thought from Iran with the term -- there are no
>devils in the Hebrew Scriptures), then perhaps it is fear of relativising
>the divine... 

I'm sorry, but I still fail to see the evidence of connection between the
two sets of words. I know about the ambiguity of "deva" and "asura", of
course, but how can it be shown that "deva" is related to "diabolos" -- and
what about the "l" element? "Deva" *is* generally considered to have Greek
relations, e.g. "dios" = "divine", but I never heard "diabolos" suggested

As for Hebrew scriptures, to my knowledge "diabolos" is supposed to be a
Greek translation of Hebrew "satan" (or whatever the correct transliteration
may be), meaning "adversary, enemy, prosecutor" and mentioned at least in
the book of Job. Of course, if there is evidence of use of this word in
pre-(Judeo)Christian Greek, there would seem to be a case for the "deva"

Martin Gansten
mgansten at

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