John Samson raised two valid points about the personality of the Devil (Letters, December 20) which I should like to take up with him.

Firstly, belief in a personal Devil precedes the early Church since it was held by many in Judaism.

This is particularly true of the Book of Job in the Old Testament, which seeks answers to the problem of suffering and regards Satan as a personal being.

Jesus also confronts the Devil as a personal being, particularly in the record of his temptation in the wilderness.

There is only one reference to Lucifer in the whole of the Bible and that is in the Authorised Version of Isaiah 14:12. It is a translation of the Hebrew word "helel" - shining one - and is a reference to the glory of the king of Babylon.

Modern translations of the Bible do not render "helel" as Lucifer but as shining one.

It was during the Dark Ages - the result of the fall of the Roman Empire to heathen tribes - that the Church, particularly in the monasteries, preserved the best of Greek and Roman culture and paved the way for the Middle Ages and, later, the Enlightenment.

Those who Mr Samson calls "Church zealots" believe the Bible to be the word of God because there is little we can know about His true nature and character without its written revelation.

It is not the product of one religious teacher but of all kinds of people for a period of more than 2,000 years.

In addition to professional scribes, we have written experiences of a shepherd (David), lawyers (including Moses, who compiled the penteteuch), court historians and a cattle dealer (Amos).

In the New Testament, the writers are even more varied. There are fishermen, tax collectors, doctors, tentmakers and possibly a carpenter (James, the brother of Jesus).

The main reason I believe the Bible to be the word of God is because it has, over the years, brought me a revelation of my true nature, the wonderful grace and love of God and comfort in time of trial and trouble.

-Reverend John Webster, Gleton Avenue, Hove