In the history of scholarship, the epithet Bελιάρ in 2 Cor 6:15 has been considered almost unquestionably to be a reference to Satan or a demonic being. Recent studies however have called for a reexamination of Paul's language of the demonic, which can be situated in its political and religious contexts as Jewish Apocalyptic demonization of the Roman Empire and emperor cult. This article will further the inquiry into Paul's language of the demonic by examining how בליץל developed from its meanings in the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint by way of Jewish Apocalyptic literature into Paul's use of the term as Bελιάρ in 2 Cor 6:15. These texts evince a complex notion of Bελιάρ as denoting not only a demonic spirit such as Satan, but often also human referents controlled by Satan, such as foreign rulers who oppose God and his people. Particularly, I will argue that this is the case in the anti-imperial context of 2 Cor 6:14–7:1, where the opponent of Christ as Bελιάρ should be understood as a reference to Nero, who is known as Bελιάρ also in the Sibylline Oracles and the Ascension and Martyrdom of Isaiah. This designation will shed light on Paul's communicative goals to Christians at Corinth, which was established as the center of the Achaian Provincial imperial cult in the same year that Nero became emperor in A.D. 54, just prior to Paul writing 2 Corinthians.
Paavo Tucker; Reconsidering Bελιάρ: 2 Corinthians 6:15 in Its Anti-imperial Jewish Apocalyptic Context. Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 1 October 2014; 4 (2): 169–185. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/26371777
Download citation file: