In the Old Testament, there is the concept of the serpent who tempts Eve in the garden of Eden, but one is not clear if the creature is supernatural or the Devil. In the Judaic Tanakh, the Devil is a heavenly prosecutor who appears on behalf of God. In the Islamic tradition, he is an angel who refuses to bow to man and so incurs God’s wrath. And in later traditions, he is an angel who is allowed to rule over fallen angels and tempt God. The idea of Devil as the opposite of God comes much later, perhaps when the Jewish tribes were exposed in Persia to Zoroastrian mythology where Ahura Mazda has an opposite in the Angra Mainyu. All these tales of the Devil, popular in ancient times, do not actually visualise the red-coloured, horned, cloven-hoofed Devil as we do so today or see him as living in a ‘fiery’ Hell, torturing souls. This depiction of the Devil is relatively recent, less than 500 years old.
The Gospel of Matthew states that on the Day of Judgement, Jesus shall separate the sheep (those who were obedient to God) from the goats (those who were independent-minded, and so, disobedient). The sheep will be to his right and go to heaven, and goats to the left, and go to hell. This scene is depicted in a sixth-century mosaic known as ‘The Last Judgement in Ravenna’, in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Italy. Here, a red angel sits on the right of Jesus helping him with the sheep, while a blue angel sits on his left helping him with the goats. This blue angel is considered the first depiction of the Devil in Christian art.