Jeffery Burton Russell, “Satan: The Early Christian Tradition”

“Christian tradition has interpreted the saving work of the Passion in three main ways. According to the first interpretation, human nature had been sanctified, dignified, transformed, and saved by the very act of Christ’s becoming man. In terms of the second, Christ was a sacrifice offered to God in order to bring about the reconciliation between man and God. The third, in ransom theory, found its first strong proponent in Irenaeus, and its basis is as follows. Since Satan justly held the human race in prison, God offered himself as ransom for our freedom. The price could be paid only by God. Only God could freely submit. No on else could choose freely, because original sin had deprived us all our freedom. By submitting to Satan’s power of his own free will and choice, Christ liberated us from the Devil’s power. God handed Jesus over in order to release the hostages. The Devil accepted Jesus. But when he seized him and put him to death, he overstepped the boundaries of justice, since Jesus himself was without sin and could not justly be held. The Devil had held us justly in the past, but when he broke the rules of justice himself, he lost his rights and could no longer hold either Jesus or us. Christ’s suffering crippled the Devil, freeing us from death and damnation.”


Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Idiot”

“The thought steps in, whether one likes it or no, that death is so terrible and powerful that even He who conquered it in His miracles during life was unable to triumph over it at last. He who called to Lazarus, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ and the dead man lived– He was Himself a prey to nature and death. Nature appears to one, looking at this picture, as some huge, implacable, dumb mobster; or still better– a stranger simile– some enormous mechanical engine of modern days which has seized and crushed and swallowed up a great and invaluable Being, a Being worth nature and all her laws, worth the whole earth, which was perhaps created merely for the sake of the advent of that Being.”