Demons of Change

Antagonism and Apotheosis in Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism

By Andrei A. Orlov

Subjects: Religion, Jewish Studies, Bible Studies, Jewish Religious Studies, Theology
Paperback : 9781438480886, 278 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438480893, 278 pages, December 2020

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



1. Between God and Satan: Inauguration into the Divine Image in Early Jewish and Christian Accounts

2. Furnace that Kills and Furnace that Gives Life: Fiery Trials and Martyrdom in the Apocalypse of Abraham

3. Leviathan's Knot: The High Priest's Sash as a Cosmological Symbol

4. Apocalyptic Scapegoat Traditions in the Book of Revelation

5. Azazel's Will: Internalization of Evil in the Apocalypse of Abraham

6. Glorification through Fear in 2 Enoch



Demonstrates how conflict between a human adept as the divine warrior and an otherworldly antagonist plays a key role in early Jewish and Christian apocalyptic accounts.


Antagonistic imagery has a striking presence in apocalyptic writings of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity. In these visionary accounts, the role of the divine warrior fighting against demonic forces is often taken by a human adept, who becomes exalted and glorified as a result of his encounter with otherworldly antagonists, serving as a prerequisite for his final apotheosis. Demons of Change examines the meaning of these interactions for the transformations of the hero and antihero of early Jewish and Christian apocalyptic accounts. Andrei A. Orlov traces the roots of this trope to ancient Near Eastern traditions, paying special attention to the significance of conflict in the adept's ascent and apotheosis and to the formative value of these developments for Jewish and Christian martyrological accounts. This antagonistic tension plays a critical role both for the exaltation of the protagonist and for the demotion of his opponent. Orlov treats the motif of the hero's apotheosis in the midst of conflict in its full historical and interpretive complexity using a broad variety of Jewish sources, from the creational narratives of the Hebrew Bible to later Jewish mystical testimonies.

Andrei A. Orlov is Professor of Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at Marquette University. He is the author of The Greatest Mirror: Heavenly Counterparts in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha; Divine Scapegoats: Demonic Mimesis in Early Jewish Mysticism; and Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology, all published by SUNY Press.


"Orlov's book is an important contribution to the study of ancient demonology in early Jewish and Christian apocalyptic traditions." — Journal for the Study of Judaism

"There is no book that covers the vast amount of material, expanse of time, and variety of literary collections that this book does. The author's amazing attention to detail and his knowledge of both the material and the secondary literature are unsurpassed in the field." — Archie T. Wright, author of The Origin of Evil Spirits: The Reception of Genesis 6:1–4 in Early Jewish Literature, Revised Edition