IT’S TIME FOR A SATANIC NON-BIBLE
I’ve said in this space already that I don’t much care for the Satanic Bible, and if you’ve heard it before then not to worry, we won’t beat a dead discourse here.
But I’ve come to realize it runs deeper than that: I don’t even like the term “Satanic Bible,” independent of the book itself.
I’ve no objection to the “Satanic” part, of course. It’s that second word that gives me pause: Why would we need a Bible? What are Bibles good for?
I would prefer a Satanic Non-Bible–a Not-So Good Book, if you will. After all, there are plenty of religions I could join for Bible babble, but arguably not nearly enough for those who’d like it to quiet down.
You can probably guess that at its root, “Bible” simply means “book” or “books,” from the Latin/Greek “biblia.”
But since the word is actually much older than bound books, it can also mean things like “scroll” or “parchment.” Note that being older than yourself is a property belonging only to certain words and to character actor Nehemiah Persoff.
Notice that the Bible does not ever refer to itself as “the Bible”–possibly because god stubbornly refuses to write a new preface, no matter how many printings it runs into.
In his 1988 book The Canon of Scripture, British Bible scholar and living limerick Frederick Fyvie Bruce wrote that “Bible” as a term for Christian scripture dates to fourth century archbishop/wet blanket John Chrystotom, who referred to the combined testaments as “ta Biblia”—“the books.”
This is probably something Chrystotom stole from older Jewish tradition, like pretty much everything else about his religion. In time, the nomenclature became “biblia sacra,”–“holy books”–and then just “biblia” for short, the final boss form of the Read Another Book meme.
Note the transition from “the books” to just “Book”–by inference, the only book, or maybe the only one that matters. “Bible” is a word that communicates (or assumes…) authority.
Hence, screenwriters will refer to their governing document as a “show bible,” while any sufficiently influential or authoritative work in a field may come with a nickname like “coach’s Bible” or “investor’s Bible.”
Even I’ve fallen into this trap, referring to Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World as a “Bible for skeptics,” a term which should engender, yes, skepticism.
There are in fact a lot of different so-called “Satanic Bibles” besides old Anton’s: Some observers call the Codex Gigas a “Devil’s Bible,” for example, although since it was actually printed on the skins of hundreds of donkeys I’ve several times pitched “Jackass Bible” instead–it hasn’t caught on.
The 1631 reprint of the King James Bible is sometimes called the “Wicked Bible” or “Sinner’s Bible” on account of misprinting “Thou Shalt Commit Adultery” in Exodus 20. The Guardian reports that only ten remain in the world, in the hands of people with presumably very suspicious partners.
In 2019, Temple of Set founder and eyebrow model Michael Aquino published his own Satanic Bible, supposedly an update on LaVey’s but containing none of the same material because, well, people have lawyers.
A lot of the content is Aquino working through daddy issues about his now long-dead mentor and intellectual whoopee cushion, and a lot of the rest is metaphysical gibberish, including a bit where he attempts to debunk Einstein.
But there are some interesting bits, and unlike the older Satanic Bible the book at least articulates a coherent idea of Satan, so that’s fine.
Some years ago I read Luciferian writer Michael Ford’s Bible of the Adversary, an experience that’s sort of like navigating a Klein bottle, in that when you’re done you’ve got nowhere to go but still have not really made any progress.
There’s a Satanic Bible: Edition 666, the Unholy Bible, several Devil’s Bibles, Satan’s Bible, the Satanic Bible 2012, the Satanic Bible 2020, the Dark Lord’s Satanic Bible, something called the Christian Satanic Bible which makes my frontal lobe bleed, the Islamic Satanic Bible, the Demonic Bible, the Bible of the Divine Black Flame, the Bible of Overweening Luciferian Pretension (okay, I made that one up…) various new “testaments” of the Satanic Bible, and of course ye old Vampire Bible.
I probably don’t need to tell you that I’ve never read more than a couple of pages of most of these–and judging from the the state of the texts, neither has any other editor.
Admittedly, the word “Bible” is to a degree practical in these cases: It’s useful for marketing, it latches onto certain search engine terms, it makes for a dramatic sounding title, etc.
But it’s also true that these authors are hoping that it sounds authoritative. “Bible” is an important-sounding word, and it makes your book sound important, at least until people get around to actually reading it, at which point in most cases the jig is up.
You’re basically padding your book’s resume. And much as I don’t often trust religious titles for people, I’m increasingly wary of religious titles for books for essentially the same reasons.
Now I’ll admit this is not something worth making a big stand over: These sorts of word tricks and assumed airs are technically a bid for unearned authority, but they’re also not all that significant. I’m not really fighting the power by looking down my nose on the Tantric Hindu Bible of Eastern Satanism. (That one I didn’t make up.)
Nevertheless, I still prefer the idea of a Satanic Non-Bible, or better yet, many of them: No one book is more important than any other (much less all others) unless it’s by virtue of being actually, you know, good.
You can’t force profundity, any more than you can push people into taking you seriously. You can only earn it.