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12. The Devil in Person, the Devil in Disguise: Looking for King Sennacherib in Early Christian Literature

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Chapter Summary

Sennacherib is a villain, but as will become clear, villains too can be useful, precisely why this character can be introduced to illustrate good Christian teaching, warning, and exegesis. The reference to Sennacherib in Greek Christian literature dates from the second century. The apologist Theophilus in his work ad Autolycum mentions the king's name in passing at the end of a long section surveying the history and kings of ancient Chaldea and Assyria. Theodore mentions Sennacherib four times in his Commentary on the Twelve Prophets. He is referred to in the Prologue to the commentary on Hosea in a historical note introducing the prophet as Sennacherib's contemporary, but strangely Theodore mixes things up and also makes Sennacherib the conqueror of the Northern kingdom, adding that this had been announced already by David. There are four references to Sennacherib in the Commentary on Daniel, written around 433 c.e.

Keywords: apologist Theophilus; Greek Christian literature; Sennacherib; Theodore



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