Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Satan and Satanism

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

Satan. The usual Hebrew word for "adversary," and very rarely used in the Old Testament as a proper name. In the prologue to Job, which some think a pre-Exilic document, Satan is one of the "sons of God" or angels who, though in opposition, are still on speaking terms with Jahveh (I, 6). In Ezekiel he is still a "son of God," but more malignant, and in 1 Chronicles (xxi, 1) he has become the enemy of God and tempter of men. Probably all such references are post-Exilic, as the Babylonian mythology seems to be the source of the legend, which flourished in later Judaism and was adopted by Christians from the second century, that the devils were fallen angels under the leadership of Satan.

Satanism. The worship of Satan, usually a very drastic expression of anti-Christian sentiment or of hatred of the Christian theoretical attitude to sex. At the trial of the Knights Templars [see], in the fourteenth century, reputable witnesses charged them with worship of the devil, and the witchcraft which from that time spread over Europe, and must have had in the course of time millions of adherents, was a serious and organized cult of Satan or "the Spirit." [See Witchcraft.] The Church was so generally indifferent to the gross sexual morals of the Middle Ages that it was rather the general hypocrisy than the Church's theoretical condemnation of sex that inspired the movement. The Satanists contended that the real "good Spirit" to men was the one who blessed and encouraged sensual pleasure. Children were dedicated to the cult by their mothers, and arrested witches faced torture and death for their faith. Outbreaks of Satanism since the cessation of witchcraft have been usually - when the reports are not fiction - a mixture of charlatanry and lubricity. There was a wide spread of it in a serious form in France, as the trials recorded in the Archives de la Bastille prove [see Black Mass], in the reign of Louis XIV. The evidence of it in the nineteenth century is not so reliable. It is chiefly provided by the work Là-bas (1891) of the unbalanced Catholic novelist Huysmans (discussed in the preface to J. Bois's Le Satanisme et la magie, 1891) and the unscrupulous works of "Leo Taxil," a priest who left the Church for the Freemasons and then reconciled himself with the Church by telling fantastic stories about their relations with Satan. Books of the kind have a large circulation, and are used by some types of modern novelists. Probably enough, a parody of Satanism as a novel form of orgy has been occasionally staged in private meetings of morbid folk or used by others to make profit.

Return to Joseph McCabe Selection

Home Page

Scanning, HTML Rae West. First upload 2012-04-13