Like the devil, for instance?
No such entity existed before the early Church invented him. He had a dual function: one, to instill fear—always the best emotion to control people, and two, to give people someone to blame for their own mistakes.
Remember that before the Judeo-Christian philosophy took root, there was also no such thing as sin. One made mistakes, one paid for them. Then “sin” became another means of scaring people into obedience, thus making them easy to control.
Religions in the pre-Christian times had very different purposes. Originally their intent was to awaken people to their true potential.
Then… things changed.
The previous intent could only work for relatively small number of people who were in frequent touch with those who new the truth. As the population multiplied at a rate comparable only to the lowest levels of animal life, this no longer offered sufficient means of enlightening people. What Paul realized was that if he can control the masses of possible acolytes, or candidates for further study then, in time, at least some of them, could be instructed in the truth.
We know now that his method failed.
What he didn’t count on was that having been so successful in his endeavours, the Church amassed such power that it became subject to the indomitable laws which power breads; it became subject to the law of corruption. There is ample evidence that this corruption, which reached its peak during the Spanish Inquisition, neither would, nor could turn its direction without yielding at least some of its power. From imposing physical torture and murder on the disobedient, the church turned to anathema, to “eternal damnation”, which was one of the biggest lies ever introduced by any power-yielding plutocracy.
Nevertheless, while “the many” remained under the dark shadow of the Church, “the few” freed themselves from its clutches, and began to study, again, the original teaching on which the Church claimed to have based its power. Such people, the seekers of truth, live quietly, usually quite unknown to the general public, certainly unknown to the Church.
If anyone is interested in furthering his or her own studies, the Dictionary of Biblical Symbolism should help. Good luck.