The Devil’s Rights and the Redemption in the Literature of Medieval England
Pp. 100-13. WL’s theology of the redemption and specifically the theory of the devil’s rights is neither old fashioned nor innovative, but is drawn from the tradition that became established as a result of Anselm’s systematic revision of the question. C.18.274-88 (cf. B.16.257-71) suggest that the devil’s power was not absolute in itself, that he held mankind by God’s permission, as a jailer. B.16.287-88 indicate that sin prevents God from showing mercy; the implication is that the devil has no “right of possession.” WL’s divergences from the Gospel of Nicodemus likewise stress that Lucifer and the devils do not hold humanity by right, and supply as reason for the devils’ loss of power Lucifer’s deception of mankind at the Fall. As in Anselm and later writers, his crime is one of treason against God (C.20), who owes him no justice. Christ does not make amends to the devil in the crucifixion (C.20.387ff); it is instead a payment for humanity’s sin.
Rev. Denise N. Baker, YLS 10 (1996): 198-202.