Perhaps its noteworthy that the “thoroughly modern” Pope Francis’ version of the faith includes the villain, Satan. What good story teller would leave the villain out?
I looked up the top ten villains in literature. They include Count Dracula, Police investigator Javert in Les Miserables, Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist, Papp Finn in Huckleberry Finn and Aaron the Moor in Shakespear’s Titus Andronicus.
Old western movies always had a guy in a black hat. We all have our favorite villains.
Why was it necessary in Biblical story telling, and all other story telling for that matter, to have a villain? Literary fiction is not my field but one can guess why it is.
I think it is because the traits of the hero cannot be seen clearly unless there is someone or something to compare the hero with. Light does not seem impressive until one has seen darkness.
Its easy to envision that the story telling around campfires long before the written word included both villains and the gods who saved people from the villains. That Satan is smart, cunning and good at tempting people makes him like so many others in story telling.
One critic in the link wishes Pope Francis would stop talking up Satan so much. The critic says talking about a literal Satan just casts more doubt on the entire enterprise of Christianity.
Selling the story of Christianity, however, requires the touching of emotional buttons. These are the fear of hell, hatred of the villain and love of the hero.