Bob Schwartz

Tag: Satan

American Gnostic

Demiurges: Yaldabaoth, Sakla, Samael, Nebro, Azazi’il, Lucifer, Satan.  “At best incompetent and at worst malevolent. Mean-spirited, ignorant, tragic, megalomaniacal, ugly, erroneous.”

From The Gnostic Bible (emphases added):

“Consequently, gnostics provided innovative and oftentimes disturbing interpretations of the creation stories they read. They concluded that a distinction, often a dualistic distinction, must be made between the transcendent, spiritual deity, who is surrounded by aeons and is all wisdom and light, and the creator of the world, who is at best incompetent and at worst malevolent. Yet through everything, they maintained, a spark of transcendent knowledge, wisdom, and light persists within people who are in the know. The transcendent deity is the source of that enlightened life and light. The meaning of the creation drama, when properly understood, is that human beings—gnostics in particular—derive their knowledge and light from the transcendent god, but through the mean-spirited actions of the demiurge, the creator of the world, they have been confined within this world. (The platonic aspects of this imagery are apparent.) Humans in this world are imprisoned, asleep, drunken, fallen, ignorant. They need to find themselves—to be freed, awakened, made sober, raised, and enlightened. In other words, they need to return to gnosis….

“As noted, the demiurge or creator of this world is commonly distinguished from the transcendent deity in gnostic texts. The demiurge is ignorant, tragic, megalomaniacal. In the Secret Book of John he is depicted as the ugly child of Sophia, snakelike in appearance, with the face of a lion and eyes flashing like bolts of lightning. He is named Yaldabaoth, Sakla, Samael, and he is the chief archon and an arrogant, jealous god. In the Gospel of Judas he is given another name, Nebro, said to mean “rebel.” In the Gospel of Truth error behaves like the demiurge, for it becomes strong and works in the world, but erroneously. Similar, too, are the actions of nature in the Paraphrase of Shem, Ptahil in Mandaean literature, the five evil archons in Manichaean literature, Azazi’il in the Mother of Books, and Lucifer or Satan among the Cathars.


Actor Is Typecast As Satan

The media is all atwitter over the observation that the actor who plays Satan in a new Bible series looks a lot or something like President Obama.

The Associated Press got a response from the producers:

Mark Burnett and Roma Burnett said Monday the Moroccan actor who played Satan in the History channel series has played Satanic characters in other Biblical programs long before Obama was elected president.

First, separate from any questions about motives or about whether Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni does look like Obama, let’s quickly get past a gap in this reply. If an actor looks like the President, and you have some creative notion that this helps make it a good casting choice (for artistic, political or publicity reasons), his having played Satan before just might be a bonus. Or if his experience as Satan is the driving reason, then the look-alike feature might be a bonus. The earlier Satan experience doesn’t fully dismiss any possibilities.

Beneath all this is a commentary on the craft and business of acting. From the producers’ comments, it appears that Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni is, or is on his way to, being typecast as Satan. He played the part before, he is playing it now (and getting lots of attention for it), and may then be asked to play it again. If Charlton Heston had done a few more Moses movies after The Ten Commandments, what would his later career have looked like? Would he have been waiting around for the next Moses movie, instead of giving us Ben Hur, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, etc.? No major actor has ever reprised the role of Jesus, either, because besides the fact that there is no sequel to the story, it is the kind of part that is hard to shake.

There is a silver lining, though. Whether or not there are other Satan parts in this actor’s future, there is no doubt that in years to come, we will be seeing all kinds of films about Barack Obama. Some will even cast Obama as a metaphorical devil—a part he already plays in lots of political punditry. When those films are finally made, there will be a call for actors, and maybe having played Satan will be a real qualification.