“The Hostile Devices of the Demented Demons” : Tatian on astrology and pharmacology

Journal article


Crawford, Matthew R.. (2021). “The Hostile Devices of the Demented Demons” : Tatian on astrology and pharmacology. Journal of Early Christian Studies. 29(1), pp. 31-59. https://doi.org/10.1353/earl.2021.0001
AuthorsCrawford, Matthew R.
Abstract

Approximately one-third of the Oration to the Greeks composed by Tatian the Assyrian is devoted to exposing the origin and current activity of demons in human affairs. The primary goal of the present article is to elucidate the source and logic of Tatian's demonology, specifically as it relates to astrological fate and pharmacology, the two "hostile devices of the demented demons" that he denounces. I argue, first, that his focus upon these two areas is not by chance, but is due to the influence of 1 Enoch, since, like 1 Enoch, he holds that these domains of human expertise derive from malevolent heavenly beings. I argue, second, that Tatian's criticisms of both astrology and pharmacology are structurally analogous insofar as he claims both are purely the product of demonic contrivance. As a result, these seeming areas of knowledge are in fact based upon nothing real or natural about the world but are instead arbitrary and nonsensical. Moreover, Tatian's emphasis upon demonic delusion serves the polemical goal of his Oration in an additional way, since it casts the demons as a foil for Tatian himself. Unlike the demons, whom he compares to bandits, Tatian speaks as a representative of the true world order and its one legitimate ruler, and he offers his own Oration as a kind of harsh logotherapy that can accomplish the very thing the demons mendaciously claim to be able to effect through astrology and pharmacology.

Year2021
JournalJournal of Early Christian Studies
Journal citation29 (1), pp. 31-59
PublisherJohns Hopkins University Press
ISSN1067-6341
1086-3184
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1353/earl.2021.0001
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85104469650
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range31-59
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online09 Mar 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Jun 2021
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