n Journal of Early Christian History - The many faces of the noonday demon

Volume 8 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2222-582X
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The scriptural figure of the noonday demon (daemonium meridianum) - a unicum found only in Psalm 90 [91] - exercised the minds of many of the most influential thinkers from early Christian times to the end of the Middle Ages. Perhaps partly because of his mysterious and evocative moniker, but also because of his sudden appearance as the apotheosis of a sequence of violent images in the structure of the Psalm, the demon was regarded with fascinated awe before being relegated to the dustbin of outmoded ideas by the new scholarship of the Reformation. This article reviews the origins of the noonday demon, the conflicting interpretations of Jerome and Augustine, and how these were developed by several influential thinkers of the early Middle Ages. As I shall show, the Psalmist’s allusion to the noonday demon provoked an array of readings that is both complex and more diverse than is frequently acknowledged by modern scholars.

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