The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment

BOOK: The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment
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The Devil Wins

The Devil Wins

A H
ISTORY OF
L
YING
from the
G
ARDEN OF
E
DEN
to the
E
NLIGHTENMENT

DALLAS G. DENERY II

Princeton University Press
Princeton and Oxford

Copyright © 2015 by Princeton University Press

Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540

In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, 6 Oxford Street, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1TW

press.princeton.edu

Jacket art courtesy of
briarpress.org
. Jacket design by Pamela Schnitter

All Rights Reserved

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Denery, Dallas G. (Dallas George), 1964–

The devil wins : a history of lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment / Dallas G. Denery II.

pages cm

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-691-16321-5 (alk. paper)

1. Truthfulness and falsehood. I. Title.

BJ1421.D46 2014

177
ʹ
.309–dc23              2014006311

British Library Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available

This book has been composed in 10/13.5 Sabon.

Printed on acid-free paper. ∞

Printed in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

F
OR
L
ORRY

Contents

Acknowledgments  ix

I
NTRODUCTION
: Is It Ever Acceptable to Lie?  1

P
ART
O
NE
: Theologians Ask the Question

C
HAPTER
O
NE
. The Devil  21

Six Days and Two Sentences Later  21

The Devil and the Lie  22

Making Sense of Genesis 1, 2, and 3  28

The Devil’s Lie from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages  35

The Devil’s Lie from the Middle Ages to the Reformation  47

The Prince of This World  52

From Satan’s Stratagems to Human Nature  55

C
HAPTER
T
WO
. God  62

Can God Lie?  62

On Lions, Fishhooks, and Mousetraps  67

Divine Deception and the Sacrament of Truth  77

Luther, Calvin, and the Hidden God  88

René Descartes, Pierre Bayle, and the End of Divine Deception  94

C
HAPTER
T
HREE
. Human Beings  105

Every Lie Is a Sin  105

Every Sin Is a Lie  110

Biblical Liars  116

Augustine among the Scholastics  119

Institutional Transformations  131

Equivocation, Mental Reservation, and Amphibology  135

From Pascal to Augustine and Beyond  145

P
ART
T
WO
: Courtiers and Women Ask the Question

C
HAPTER
F
OUR
. Courtiers  153

Flatterers, Wheedlers, and Gossipmongers  153

Early Modern Uncertainty and Deception  158

Uncertainty and Skepticism in the Medieval Court  163

Entangled in Leviathan’s Loins  169

Christine de Pizan and Just Hypocrisy  175

From Lies to Civility  181

Bernard Mandeville and the World Lies Built  190

C
HAPTER
F
IVE
. Women  199

Lessons about Lies  199

All about Eve, All about Women  205

The Biology of Feminine Deceit  211

Christine de Pizan, Misogyny, and Self-Knowledge  216

All Men Are Liars  226

Madeleine de Scudéry, the Salon, and the Pleasant Lie  237

C
ONCLUSION
: The Lie Becomes Modern  247

Notes  257

Bibliography  303

Index  327

Acknowledgments

This book was a long time in the making and, before that, an even longer time in the putting off. Most of the doing and delaying occurred in three places, and I want to thank people from each of them.

Cambridge University has become a sort of home away from home. I owe a real debt of gratitude to Richard Newhauser, a great supporter and friend, who led an NEH seminar on the vices in medieval society at Darwin College during the summer of 2004. I began the preliminary research for this book that summer and profited from numerous conversations with Dwight Allman, Stan Benfell, Susan Dudash, Holly Johnson, Tom Parisi, and Derrick Pitard. In 2009, Nicolette Zeeman, along with Kantik Ghosh, Mishtooni Bose, and Rita Copeland, invited me to help organize a conference at King’s College on doubt and skepticism in the Middle Ages. The event allowed me to discuss my work with them, as well as with Hester Gelber, Christophe Grellard, Dominik Perler, and, especially, Eileen Sweeney, who has read various chapters with great care over the years. Two years later, Nicolette invited me back to present several chapters of my book at a three-day work-in-progress seminar during which I had very useful conversations with her, Bill Burwinkle, and Emily Corran. William D. Wood was kind enough to meet me for a beer in Oxford.

During the 2012–2013 academic year, I was a Laurance S. Rockefeller Fellow at the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University. Under Alan Patten’s leadership, the Center was a convivial and lively place, and between the fellows and faculty at the Center, various other Princeton faculty, and an extraordinary number of visiting speakers, I incurred debts too many to recall. At
the Center, I benefited particularly from numerous mobile conversations with Alexander Voorhoeve, as well as with Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Kimberly Ferzan, Samuel Goldman, Christopher Heathwood, Bennet Helm, Nannerl Keohane, and the late, much beloved, Paul Sigmund. In addition, I had the pleasure to meet and talk things historical with Moshe Shluvosky and Sophie Lunn-Rockwell, both of whom were in residence at the Davis Center. I want to thank Rob Tempio at Princeton University Press for his early and continued enthusiasm for this book and books in general.

At Bowdoin College, a number of colleagues and friends have read and discussed various versions and stages of this book over the years, including Margaret Boyle, Mary Agnes Edsell, Paul Franco, Paul Friedland, Kristen Ghodsee, Page Herrlinger, Ann Kibbie, Aaron Kitch, Robert Morrison, Steve Perkinson, Patrick Rael, Meghan Roberts, Arielle Saiber, and Scott Sehon. It goes without saying that without our superb library staff this book would have been much more difficult to complete, but I must single out Guy Saldanha and everyone at Interlibrary Loan for their amazing facility at quickly tracking down even the most obscure material. Part of the research for this book was funded through a Kenan Family Research Grant, sponsored by the college. Georgia Whitaker and Maya Little helped construct the bibliography on very little notice. I must also thank seven years worth of seminar students who patiently and, hopefully, enjoyably, worked through a litany of biblical commentaries, court treatises, and theological quagmires as I struggled to figure out what this book would be about.

I want to thank Steven Justice and Stephen Lahey for commenting on early drafts, as well as Lisa Bitel, David Luscombe, Cary Nederman, Daniel Smail, and Nicholas Watson for their various kindnesses. I owe a real debt of gratitude to Jonathan Sheehan for his meticulous reading of the entire manuscript, the anonymous readers who reviewed the book for Princeton University Press, and Will Hively for his expert and attentive copyediting.

I dedicate this book to my wife Lorry.

A N
OTE ON THE
T
EXT

I have incorporated parts of the following previously published essays into this book: “From Sacred Mystery to Divine Deception: Robert Holkot, John Wyclif and the Transformation of Fourteenth Century Eucharistic Discourse,”
Journal of Religious History
, June 2005, 129–44; “Biblical Liars and Medieval Theologians,” in
The Seven Deadly Sins: From Individuals to Communities
, ed. Richard Newhauser (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2007), 111–28; “Christine de Pizan against the Theologians: The Virtue of Lies in
The Book of the Three Virtues
,”
Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies
39:1 (2008): 229–47; “Christine de Pizan on Misogyny, Gossip and Possibility,” in
The Middle Ages in Texts and Texture
, ed. Jason Glenn (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011): 309–21; and “Uncertainty and Deception in the Medieval and Early Modern Court,” in
Uncertain Knowledge in the Middle Ages
, ed. Dallas G. Denery II, Kantik Ghosh, and Nicolette Zeeman (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014): 13–36.

BOOK: The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment
13.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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