Angel, No Angel
, The Angel
, Be An Angel
, Angel (TV series)
, Offa of Angel
, Blue Angel
, Angel Manfredy
is a supernatural
being found in many religion
s. In Christianity
, they typically act as messengers from God
word came from Latin angelus
, which came from Greek
, meaning "messenger". The closest Hebrew
word for angel is מלאך, mal'ach
, also meaning "messenger". "Angel" is also used in the English version of the Bible
for these three Hebrew words:...
* אביר, abbir
78:25 (lit. "mighty")
* אלהים, Elohim
, Psalms 8:5
* the obscure שנאן, shin'an
, in Psalms 68:17
Angelology is a branch of theology
that deals with a hierarchical system of angels, messengers, celestial powers or emanations, and the study of these systems. It primarily relates to kaballistic Judaism
| url = http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/am-ani.htm
| title = Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary
| publisher = Theosophical University Press
| accessdate = 2006-03-17
where it is one of the ten major branches of theology, albeit a neglected one.
| title = Angelology The Doctrine of Angels|url=http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=712
| author = J. Hampton Keathley, III, Th. M.
| accessdate = 2006-03-17
Many secular scholars believe that Judeo-Christianity
owes a great debt to Zoroastrianism
in regards to the introduction of angelology and demonology
, as well as the fallen angel Satan
as the ultimate agent of evil, comparing him to the evil spirit Ahriman
. As the Iranian Avestan
traditions and also other branches of Indo-European mythologies
show, the notion of demon had existed long before.
It is believed that Zoroastrianism
had an influence on Jewish angelology,
| url = http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/Z/ZOROASTRIANISM
| title = "Zoroastrianism", section "Summary"
| author = Jewish Encyclopedia
| accessdate = 2006-03-15
and therefore modern Christian
angelology, due to the appearance of elements from Zoroastrianism in Judaism following Israel's extended contact with the Persian Empire
while in exile in Babylon
| url = http://www.bible-history.com/map_babylonian_captivity/map_of_the_deportation_of_judah_jewish_encyclopedia.html|title="The Babylonian Captivity"
| author = Jewish Encyclopedia
| accessdate = 2006-03-15
which have led some to believe that Zoroastrianism borrowed these beliefs from Judaism. Borrowed notions may include, the introduction of Satan
as a supreme head over the powers of evil
(present mainly in Christian and Islamic theology), in contrast to God:
| url = http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/Z/ZOROASTRIANISM
| title = "Zoroastrianism", section 3 "Possible Theological Influence" and section 4, "Angelology and Demonology"
| author = International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
| accessdate = 2006-03-15
comparing Satan to Angra Mainyu
(also known as Ahriman
) of Zoroastrian faith,
| url = http://www.sullivan-county.com/news/mine/jud_zor.htm
| title = "Judaism Meets Zoroastrianism"
| author = Lewis Loflin
| accessdate = 2006-03-15
who was the arch-enemy of Ahura Mazda
, the supreme Universal God of mankind.
| url = http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=147&letter=Z&search=zoroaster#429
| title = "Zoroastrianism", section "The Kingdoms of Good and Evil"
| accessdate = 2006-03-15
| author = Jewish Encyclopedia
Angels, some also believe, may have first been depicted as God's helper
s in Zoroastrianism, and their hierarchy is comparable to modern Angelology's hierarchy.
| url = http://www.ccel.org/php/disp.php?authorID=schaff&bookID=encyc12&page=530&view=
| title = New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. XII: Trench - Zwingli, pages 530-531
| accessdate = 2006-03-15
This view is questioned though by those who point out that the Torah
, the Book of Job
, and other Jewish books depicting angels as messengers of God predate the time of Persian influence.
In contrast to the first view, some critics believe that it was Judaism and Christianity that had an influence on Zoroastrianism
. They purport that similarities, such as those between Zoroaster
, and the incorporation of other motifs, were created by priests in an attempt to exalt Zoroaster, and deter those of Zoroastrian faith from converting to other faiths.
| url = http://www.sullivan-county.com/z/zor4.htm
| title = "Did Zoroastrianism Influence Christianity?"
| author = James Patrick Holding
| accessdate = 2006-03-15
That is, however, problematic as some historians date Zoroastrianism back more than ten thousand years before the birth of Christ, but with little physical evidence. The main source of Zoroastrian lore comes from the Shāhnāma
, which the author claims to be truthful to the ancient legends, but which was written after the Islamic conquest of Persia.
== Angels in the Tanakh
.">[Statue of an angel at a cemetery
name for angel, מלאך ("mal'ach"), obtained the further signification of "angel" only through the addition of God's name, as "angel of the Lord," or "angel of God" ). Other appellations are "Sons of God", ; R. V. v. 1
) and "the Holy Ones" ).
According to Jewish
interpretation, Elohim is almost entirely reserved for the one true God; but at times
bnēi Elim (sons of gods) (i.e. members of the class of divine beings) were general terms for beings with great power (i.e. judges or alternately, some kind of super powerful human beings). Hence they came to be used collectively of super-human beings, distinct from God and, therefore, inferior and ultimately subordinate (e.g. Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6; ).See also: Names of God in Judaism
Angels are referred to as "holy ones" and "watchers" . They are spoken of as the "host of heaven
" or of "Adonai" . The "hosts," צבאות Tzevaot
in the title Adonai Tzevaot
(alternatively, Adonai Tzivo'ot
), Lord of Hosts, were probably at one time identified with the angels. The identification of the "hosts" with the stars comes to the same thing; the stars were thought of as being closely connected with angels. However, God is very jealous of the distinction between Himself and angels, and consequently, the Hebrews were forbidden by Moses to worship the "host of heaven". It is probable that the "hosts" were also identified with the armies of Israel, whether this army is human, or angelic. The New Testament often speaks of "spirits," πνεύματα .
Prior to the emergence of monotheism
the idea of an angel was the Malach Adonai
, Angel of the Lord, or Malach Elohim
, Angel of God. The Malach Adonai
is an appearance or manifestation of God in the form of a man, and the term Malach Adonai
is used interchangeably with Adonai (God). (cf.
, with 3:4; with ). Those who see the Malach Adonai
say they have seen God ; ). The Malach Adonai
) appears to Abraham
, &c., and leads the Israelites in the Pillar of Cloud
(Exodus 3:2). The phrase Malach Adonai
may have been originally a courtly circumlocution for the Divine King; but it readily became a means of avoiding anthropomorphism
, and later on, when angels were classified, the Malach Adonai
meant an angel of distinguished rank. The identification of the Malach Adonai
with the Logos
, or Second Person
of the Trinity
, is not indicated by the references in the Hebrew scriptures; but the idea of a Being partly identified with God, and yet in some sense distinct from him, illustrates a tendency of Jewish religious thought to distinguish persons within the unity of the deity. Christians think that this foreshadows the doctrine of the Trinity, whereas Kabbalist Jews would show how it developed into kabbalistic
theological thought and imagery.
In earlier literature the Malach Adonai
is almost the only angel mentioned. However, there are a few passages which speak of subordinate superhuman beings other than the Malach Adonai
. There are the cherubim
who guard the Garden of Eden
. In , . (J) the appearance of God to Abraham and Lot
is connected with three, afterwards two, men or messengers; but possibly in the original form of the story God appeared alone (Cf. 18:1 with 18:2, and note change of number in 19:17). At Bethel
, Jacob sees the angels of God on the ladder
, and later on they appear to him at Mahanaim
. In all these cases the angels, like the Malach Adonai
, are connected with or represent a theophany
. Similarly the "man" who wrestles with Jacob at Peniel
is identified with God (Genesis 32:24, 30). In the seraphim
, superhuman beings with six wings, appear as the attendants of God. Thus, the pre-exilic literature rarely mentions angels, or other superhuman beings other than God and manifestations of God; the pre-exilic prophet
s hardly mention angels. An angel of might be the Malach Adonai
, as in 19:5, cf. 7, or the passage, at any rate in its present form, may be exilic or post-exilic. Nevertheless we may well suppose that polytheist
s in ancient Israel
believed in superhuman beings other than God, but that the inspired
writers have mostly suppressed references to them as unedifying.
Once the doctrine of monotheism was formally expressed, in the period immediately before and during the Exile and ), we find angels prominent in the Book of Ezekiel
, as a prophet of the Exile, may have been influenced by the hierarchy of supernatural beings in the Babylonian religion
, and perhaps even by the angelology
(it is not, however, certain that these doctrines of Zoroastrianism were developed at so early a date). gives elaborate descriptions of cherubim (a class, or type of angels); and in one of his visions, he sees seven angels execute the judgment of God upon Jerusalem. As in Genesis, they are styled "men"; malach
, for "angel", does not occur in Ezekiel. Somewhat later, in the visions of Zechariah
, angels play a great part; they are sometimes spoken of as "men", sometimes as malach
, and the Malach Adonai
seems to hold a certain primacy among them . The Satan
also appears to prosecute (so to speak) the High Priest before the divine tribunal . Similarly in the Job
the bnei Elohim
, sons of God, appear as attendants of God, and amongst them, Satan (Hebrew ha-satan
), again in the role of public prosecutor, the defendant being Job (Job 1, 2. Cf. ). Occasional references to "angels" occur in the Psalter (Pss. 91:11, 103:20 &c.); they appear as ministers of God.
In the "evil angels" of the Authorized Version
conveys a false impression; it should be "angels of evil", i.e.
angels who inflict chastisement as ministers of God.
The seven angels of Ezekiel may be compared with the seven eyes of God in Zechariah 3:9, 4:10. The latter have been connected by Ewald and others with the later doctrine of seven chief angels (Tobit 12:15; Revelation 8:2), parallel to and influenced by the Ameshaspentas (Amesha Spenta
), or seven great spirits of the Persian mythology
In the Priestly Code, c. 400BCE
, there is no reference to angels, apart from the possible suggestion in the plural in .
During the Persian
and Greek periods, the doctrine of angels underwent a great development, partly, at any rate, under foreign influences. In Daniel, c. 160BCE
, 71 angels, usually spoken of as "men" or "Angel-princes
", appear as guardians or champions of the individual nations, defending them as God sits in council with them over the world; grades are implied, there are "princes" and "chief" or "great princes"; and the names of some angels are known, Gabriel
; the latter is pre-eminent ; , 20-21), he is the guardian of Israel's leading Kingdom of Judah
. Again in Tobit
a leading part is played by Raphael
, "one of the seven holy angels". (Tob. 12:15.)
In Tobit, too, we find the idea of the demon
or evil angel. In the canonical Hebrew/Aramaic
scriptures, angels may inflict suffering as ministers of God; but they act as subordinates to God, and not as independent, morally evil agents. The statement (Job 4:18) that God "charged his angels with folly" applies to all angels. In Daniel, the princes, or guardian angels
, of the heathen nations oppose Michael, the guardian angel
of Judah. But in Tobit, we find Asmodeus
the evil demon, τὸ πονηρὸν δαιμόνιον, who strangles Sarah's husbands, and also a general reference to "a devil
or evil spirit", πνεῦμα (Tobit 3:8, 17; 6:7).
The Fall of the Angels is not properly a scriptural doctrine, though it is based on Gen. 6:2, as interpreted by the Book of Enoch
. It is true that the bnē Elohim
of that chapter are subordinate superhuman beings (cf. above), but they belong to a different order of thought from the angels of Judaism and of Christian doctrine; and the passage in no way suggests that the bne Elohim
suffered any loss of status through their act.
The guardian angels of the nations in Daniel probably represent the gods of the heathen, and we have there the first step of the process by which these gods became evil angels, an idea expanded by Milton
in Paradise Lost
. The development of the doctrine of an organized hierarchy of angels belongs to the Jewish literature of the period 200 BC
to A.D. 100
. In Jewish apocalypses especially, the imagination ran riot on the rank, classes and names of angels; and such works as the various books of Enoch
and the Ascension of Isaiah
supply much information on this subject.
Appearance of angels
In the Hebrew Bible
, angels often appear to people in the shape of humans of extraordinary beauty, and often are not immediately recognized as angels , ; , ; ). Some fly through the air, some become invisible, sacrifices touched by some are consumed by fire, and some may disappear in sacrificial fire. Angels, or the Angel, appeared in the flames of the thorn bush
; Judges 6. 21, 22; ; ). They are described as pure and bright as Heaven; consequently, they are said to be formed of fire, and encompassed by light, as the Psalmist said ): "He makes winds His messengers, burning fire His ministers." Some verses in theApocrypha
/Deuterocanon depict angels wearing blue or red robes but no such reference occurs in the
Though superhuman, angels can assume human form; this is the earliest conception. Gradually, and especially in post-Biblical times, angels came to be bodied forth in a form corresponding to the nature of the mission to be fulfilled—generally, however, the human form. Angels bear drawn sword
s or other destroying weapons in their hands—one carries an ink-horn by his side—and ride on horses , , , et seq.). A terrible angel is the one mentioned in , as standing "between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand". In the Book of Daniel
, reference is made to an angel "clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: his body also was like the beryl
, and his face as the appearance of lightning
, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass
, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude" ). This imagery is very similar to the description of Jesus in the book of Revelation. Angels are thought to possess wings ), as they are described in the Bible, and depicted in Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian art. They are commonly depicted with halos
.thumb|left|140px|the Angel Uriel, holding the sun ( statue at the Bordeaux cathedral)
In Christian iconography
, the use of wings is a convention used to denote the figure as a spirit
. Depictions of angels in Christian art as winged human forms, unlike classical pagan depictions of the major deities, follow the iconic conventions of lesser winged gods, such as Eos
Angels are portrayed as powerful and dreadful, endowed with wisdom and with knowledge of all earthly events, correct in their judgment, holy, but not infallible: they strive against each other, and God has to make peace between them. When their duties are not punitive, angels are beneficent to man , ; , ; ; , ).
The number of angels is enormous. Jacob
meets a host of angels; Joshua
sees the "captain of the host of the Lord"; God sits on His throne, "all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on his left"; the sons of God come "to present themselves before the Lord" (Gen. xxxii. 2; Josh. v. 14, 15; I Kings, xxii. 19; Job, i. 6, ii. 1; Ps. lxxxix. 6; Job, xxxiii. 23). The general conception is the one of Job
(xxv. 3): "Is there any number of his armies?" In the book of Revelation, the number is "a thousand thousands, and many tens of thousands".
Though the older writings usually mention one angel of the Lord, embassies to men as a rule comprised several messengers. The inference, however, is not to be drawn that God Himself or one particular angel was designated: the expression was given simply to God's power to accomplish through but one angel any deed, however wonderful.
Angels are referred to in connection with their special missions as, for instance, the "angel which hath redeemed," "an interpreter," "the angel that destroyed," "messenger of the covenant," "angel of his presence," and "a band of angels of evil" (Gen. xlviii. 16; Job, xxxiii. 23; II Sam. xxiv. 16; Mal. iii. 1; Isa. lxiii. 9; Ps. lxxviii. 49, R. V.). When, however, the heavenly host is regarded in its most comprehensive aspect, a distinction may be made between cherub
("living creatures"), Ofanim
("wheels"), and Arelim
(another name for Thrones
). God is described as riding on the cherubim and as "the Lord of hosts, who dwelleth between the cherubim"; while the latter guard the way of the Tree of Life
(I Sam. iv. 4, Ps. lxxx. 2, Gen. iii. 24). The seraphim are described by Isaiah
(vi. 2) as having six wings; and Ezekiel
describes the ḥayyot (Ezek. i. 5 et seq.) and ofanim
as heavenly beings who carry God's throne.
In post-Biblical times, the heavenly hosts became more highly organized (possibly as early as Zechariah iii. 9, iv. 10
; certainly in Daniel), and there came to be various kinds of angels; some even being provided with names, as will be shown below.
In the Bible, angels are a medium of God's power; they exist to execute God's will. Angels reveal themselves to individuals as well as to the whole nation, to announce events, either good or bad, affecting humans. Angels foretold to Abraham
the birth of Isaac
, to Manoah
the birth of Samson
, and to Abraham the destruction of Sodom
. Guardian angels were mentioned, but not, as was later the case, as guardian spirits of individuals and nations. God sent an angel to protect the Hebrew people
after their exodus
, to lead them to the promised land
, and to destroy the hostile tribes in their way (Ex. 23.20, Num. 20.16).
In Judges (ii. 1) an angel of the Lord—unless here and in the preceding instances (compare Isa. xlii. 19, Ḥag. i. 13, Mal. iii. 1), a human messenger of God is meant—addressed the whole people, swearing to bring them to the promised land. An angel brought Elijah
meat and drink (I Kings, xix. 5); and as God watched over Jacob
, so is every pious
person protected by an angel, who cares for him in all his ways (Ps. xxxiv. 7, xci. 11). There are angels militant, one of whom smites in one night the whole Assyria
n army of 185,000 men (II Kings, xix. 35); messengers go forth from God "in ships to make the careless Ethiopia
ns afraid" (Ezek. xxx. 9); the enemy is scattered before the angel like chaff (Ps. xxxv. 5, 6).
Avenging angels are mentioned, such as the one in II Sam. xxiv. 15, who annihilates thousands. It would seem that the pestilence was personified, and that the "evil angels" mentioned in Ps. lxxviii. 49 are to be regarded as personifications of this kind. "Evil" is here to be taken in the causative sense, as "producing evil"; for, as stated above, angels are generally considered to be by nature beneficent to man. They glorify God, whence the term "glorifying angels" comes (Ps. xxix. 1, ciii. 20, cxlviii. 2; compare Isa. vi. 2 et seq.).
They constitute God's court, sitting in council with Him (I Kings, xxii. 19; Job, i. 6, ii. 1); hence they are called His "council of the holy ones" (Ps. lxxxix. 7, R. V.; A. V. "assembly of the saints"). They accompany God as His attendants, when He appears to man (Deut. xxxiii. 2; Job, xxxviii. 7). This conception was developed after the Exile; and in the Zechariah
, angels of various shapes are delegated "to walk to and fro through the earth" in order to find out and report what happens (Zech. vi. 7).
In the prophetic books, angels appear as representatives of the prophetic spirit, and bring to the prophets God's word. Thus the prophet Haggai
was called God's messenger (angel); and it is known that "Malachi" is not a real name, but means "messenger" or "angel". In I Kings, xiii. 18, an angel brought the divine word to the prophet.
In some places, it is implied that angels existed before the Creation (Gen. i. 26; Job, xxxviii. 7). The earlier Biblical writings did not speculate about them; simply regarding them, in their relations to man, as God's agents. Consequently, they did not individualize or denominate them; and in Judges, xiii. 18, and Gen. xxxii. 30, the angels, when questioned, refuse to give their names. In Daniel, however, there occur the names Michael and Gabriel. Michael is Israel
's representative in Heaven, where other nations—the Persians
, for instance—were also represented by angelic princes. More than three hundred years before the Book of Daniel was written, Zechariah graded the angels according to their rank, but did not name them. The notion of the seven eyes (Zech. iii. 9, iv. 10) may have been affected by the representation of the seven archangels and also possibly by the seven amesha spentas
of Zoroastrianism (compare Ezek. ix. 2).
Angels appear in several Old Testament
(Hebrew Bible) stories, in addition to the ones previously mentioned above. These include the warning to Lot
of the imminent destruction of Sodom
. Many Bible chapters mention an "angry God" who sends His angel to smite the enemies of the Israelites. Traditional Jewish biblical commentators have a variety of ways of explaining what an angel is. The earliest Biblical books present angels as heavenly beings created by God, some of whom apparently are endowed with free will. Later biblical books in the Tanakh present a stunningly different view of angels, as the Jewish beliefs about such things developed over the many years covered in the Bible. Such a differing perspective on angels is discovered in the Book of Ezekiel
, where these angels bear no relation whatsoever to the former understanding of what an angel was.
named in post-exile Judaism are Gabriel
, and Jerahmeel
. Gabriel and Michael are mentioned in the book of Daniel
, Raphael in the book of Tobit
(from the Protestant Apocrypha
and Orthodox Deuterocanon
) and the remaining four in the book of Enoch
from the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha
(considered canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox
Maimonides and rationalism
In the Middle Ages
, some Jews developed a rationalist
view of angels that is still accepted by many Jews today. The rationalist view of angels, as held by Maimonides
, Samuel Ibn Tibbon
, etc., states that God's actions are never mediated by a violation of the laws of nature. Rather, all such interactions are by way of angels. Even this can be highly misleading: Maimonides harshly states that the average person's understanding of the term "angel" is ignorant in the extreme. Instead, he says, the wise man sees that what the Bible
refer to as "angels" are actually metaphors for the various laws of nature, or the principles by which the physical universe operates, or kinds of platonic eternal forms. This is explained in his Guide of the Perplexed
II:4 and II:6.
:: "...This leads Aristotle in turn to the demonstrated fact that God, glory and majesty to Him, does not do things by direct contact. God burns things by means of fire; fire is moved by the motion of the sphere; the sphere is moved by means of a disembodied intellect, these intellects being the 'angels which are near to Him', through whose mediation the spheres planets move....thus totally disembodied minds exist which emanate from God and are the intermediaries between God and all the bodies objects here in this world."
:: "...Aristotle's doctrine that these disembodied spheres serve as the nexus between God and existence, by whose mediation the sphere are brought into motion, which is the cause of all becoming, is the express import of all the Scriptures. For you will never in Scripture find any activity done by God except through an angel. And "angel", as you know, means messenger. Thus anything which executes a command is an angel. So the motions of living beings, even those that are inarticulate, are said explicitly by Scripture to be due to angels.
::...Our argument here is concerned solely with those "angels" which are disembodied intellects. For our Bible is not unaware that God governs this existence through the mediation of angels...(Maimonides then quotes discussions of angels from Genesis, Plato, and Midrash Bereshit Rabbah)...the import in all these texts is not—as a primitive mentality would suppose—to suggest any discussion or planning or seeking of advice on God's part. How could the Creator receive aid from the object of his creation? The real import of all is to proclaim that existence—including particular individuals and even the formation of the parts of animals such as they are—is brought about entirely through the mediation of angels.
::For all forces are angels! How blind, how perniciously blind are the naïve?! If you told someone who purports to be a sage of Israel that the Deity sends an angel who enters a woman's womb and there forms an embryo, he would think this a miracle and accept it as a mark of the majesty and power of the Deity—despite the fact that he believes an angel to be a body of fire one third the size of the entire world. All this, he thinks, is possible for God. But if you tell him that God placed in the sperm the power of forming and demarcating these organs, and that this is the angel, or that all forms are produced by the Active Intellect—that here is the angel, the "vice-regent of the world" constantly mentioned by the sages—then he will recoil. For he the naïve person does not understand that the true majesty and power are in the bringing into being of forces which are active in a thing although they cannot be perceived by the senses.
::The sages of blessed memory state clearly—to those who are wise themselves—that every bodily power (not to mention forces at large in the world) is an angel and that a given power has one effect and no more. It says in Midrash Bereshit Rabbah "We are given to understand that no angel performs two missions, nor do two angels perform one mission."—which is just the case with all forces. To confirm the conclusion that individual physical and psychological forces are called "angels", there is the dictum of the sages, in a number of places, ultimately derived from Bereshit Rabbah, "Each day the Holy One creates a band of angels who sing their song before him and go their way." Midrash Bereshit Rabbah, LXXVIII. When this midrash was countered with another which suggests that angels are permanent...the answer given was that some are permanent and other perish. And this is in fact the case. Particular forces come to be and pass away in constant succession; the species of such forces, however, are stable and enduring....Giving a few more examples of the mention of angels in rabbinic writings, Maimonides says Thus the Sages reveal to the aware that the imaginative faculty is also called an angel; and the mind is called a cherub. How beautiful this will appear to the sophisticated mind—and how disturbing to the primitive."
One can perhaps say that Maimonides thus presents a virtual rejection of the "classical" Jewish view of miracle
s; he and others substitute a rationalism that seems more appropriate for 20th and 21st century religious rationalists.
Others might perhaps view Maimonides's statements as being perfectly in keeping with the continued evolvement of Jewish thought
over a period of several millennia
Christian views right|thumbnail|250px|Gustave Doré
">[Jacob Wrestling with the Angel - Gustave Doré
In the New Testament
angels appear frequently as the ministers of God and the agents of revelation (e.g.
(to Joseph), 4:11. (to Jesus), Luke
1:26 (to Mary), Acts
12:7 (to Peter)); and Jesus speaks of angels as fulfilling such functions (e.g. Mark
8:38, 13:27), implying in one saying that they neither marry nor are given in marriage (Mark 12:25). Angels are most prominent in the Apocalypse. The New Testament takes little interest in the idea of the angelic hierarchy, but there are traces of the doctrine. The distinction of good and bad angels is recognized. Good angels mentioned by name are Gabriel
(Luke 1:19; Daniel 12:1). Scripture also mentions evil angels Satan
, and Apollyon
(Mark 1:13, 3:22; Rev. 9:11). Apollyon
, a name for an angel mentioned in Revelation 9:11, is believed by some to be a good angel that guards the gates to the traditionally known hell. Revelation 10:1 also does not name the angel spoken of but some say it is Metatron
The Christian Greek scriptures also imply an angelic hierarchy; archangels (namely Michael, mentioned in both Daniel 10:13 and Jude 9, Gabriel, and Raphael), principalities and powers (Rom. 8:38; Col. 2:10), thrones and dominions (Col 1:16). The hierarchies of principalities, powers, thrones, and dominions are questionable by some Christian denominations due to the ambiguity of the context. Romans 8:38 may refer to other things besides angels if the context includes opposition beyond spirits themselves. The scope of Col. 1:16 covering "all things created" also extends far beyond angels by themselves. Other hierarchies accepted from the Old Testament include seraphim
The Catholic Church teaches that there are several ranks of angels; among them Cherubim, Seraphim, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Dominions.
Angels occur in groups of four or seven (Rev 7:1). The Angels of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor are described in Rev. 1-3; practically, the angels are personifications or representatives of the seven congregations. Daniel 10:12,13 also appears to depict angels in opposition (presumably fallen angels) to other angels, taking on the roles of prince-angels for nations, in this case the "prince of the kingdom of Persia."
The archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary
in the traditional role of messenger to inform her that her child would be the Messiah
, and other angels were present to herald his birth. In Matt. 28:2, an angel appeared at Jesus
' tomb, frightened the Roman guards, rolled away the stone from the tomb, and later told the myrrh
-bearing women of Jesus' resurrection
. Alternately, in Mark 16:5, the angel is not seen until the women enter the already-opened tomb, and he is described simply as "a young man." In Luke's version of the resurrection tale (Luke 24:4), two angels suddenly appear next to the women within the tomb; they are described as being clothed in "shining apparel." This is most similar to the version in John 20:12, where Mary alone speaks to "two angels in white" within the tomb of Jesus.
Two angels witnessed Jesus' ascent into Heaven
and prophesied his return. When Peter
was imprisoned, an angel put his guards to sleep, released him from his chains, and led him out of the prison. Angels fill a number of different roles in the Book of Revelation. Among other things, they are seen gathered around the Throne of God singing the thrice-holy hymn
While angels and demons alike are generally regarded as invisible to human sight, they are frequently depicted as human-like creatures with wings, though many theologians
have argued that they have no physical existence, but can take on human form. The angels' wings are heavily implied by the Scriptures. Seraphim
are depicted in art and scripture as having six wings (Isaiah 6:1-3), and Cherubim
eight. Scholastic theologians teach that angels are mentally superior to humans as mankind was created "a little lower than the angels" (Psalm 8:5) and can travel much faster than the known limitations of the physical universe. They also teach that angels are intermediaries to some forces that would otherwise be natural forces of the universe, such as the rotation of planets and the motion of stars. Because of their spiritual nature, angels possess the beatific vision
of the triple Godhead.
:Main article: Angels in Islam
, the language of the Qur'an
, angels are called "Malaaikah"(sing: Malak). The belief in angels is central to the religion of Islam
, beginning with the belief that the Qur'an
was dictated to the Prophet Muhammad
by the chief of all angels, the archangel Jibril
(Gabriel). Angels are thus the ministers of God, as well as the agents of revelation in Islam.
In Islam, angels are benevolent beings created from light and do not possess free will. They are completely devoted to the worship of God (Allah
) and carry out certain functions on His command, such as recording every human being's actions, placing a soul in a newborn child, maintaining certain environmental conditions of the planet (such as nurturing vegetation and distributing the rain) and taking the soul at the time of death. Angels are described as being excessively beautiful and have different numbers of wings (for example, Gabriel is attributed as having 600 wings in his natural form) and have no gender. They can take on human form, but only in appearance. As such, angels do not eat, procreate or commit sin as humans do.
According to the majority of Islamic scholars
, angels are incapable of committing sin, and therefore cannot fall from grace, excluding Iblis
who chose to do evil because he had free-will and is not considered as a fallen angel, but a separate entity made of fire called jinn
. Scholars cite the following Quranic ayat
(verse), "And when We said to the Angels; "Prostrate yourselves unto Adam." So they prostrated themselves except Iblis. He was one of the jinn..." (Sura
, 18:50). Angels, unlike the fiery nature of jinn, are beings of goodness and cannot choose to disobey God, nor do they possess the ability to do evil.
The archangel Jibril is attributed with sending the message of Allah to all the Prophets
(including the Psalms
. Other angels include Michael (Mikaeel) who discharges control of vegetation and rain, Sarafiel (Israfil) who will blow the trumpet on Yaum al Qiyamah
(the day of resurrection), and Azrael (Izra'il), the angel of death (as opposed to the Christian view that Gabriel is the angel of death). The angels Nakir and Munkar
are assigned to interrogate the dead before judgement day; and there are nineteen angels over-seeing the punishments of hell unflinchingly (Surat Al-Muddaththir
, 74:30). There are eight massive angels that support the Throne of God (Surat Al-Haaqqa
, 69:17). Every human being is assigned two angels to scribe a record of all actions done by the individual throughout their life, which will be used in evidence for or against the person by Allah on the day of judgement.
Humans do not turn into angels upon death, rather they are physically resurrected in body and soul and judged by God on judgement day (and that should they end up in Jannah
(heaven), they are given perfect bodies).
explained the creation of Angels in the following words:
"Then He created the openings between high skies and filled them with all classes of His angels. Some of them are in prostration and do not kneel up. Others in kneeling position and do not stand up. Some of them are in array and do not leave their position. Others are extolling Allah and do not get tired. The sleep of the eye or the slip of wit, or languor of the body or the effect of forgetfulness does not effect them.
Among them are those who work as trusted bearers of His message, those who serve as speaking tongues for His prophets and those who carry to and fro His orders and injunctions. Among them are the protectors of His creatures and guards of the doors of the gardens of Paradise. Among them are those also whose steps are fixed on earth but their necks are protruding into the skies, their limbs are getting out on all sides, their shoulders are in accord with the columns of the Divine Throne, their eyes are downcast before it, they have spread down their wings under it and they have rendered between themselves and all else curtains of honour and screens of power. They do not think of their Creator through image, do not impute to Him attributes of the created, do not confine Him within abodes and do not point at Him through illustrations."
Latter-Day Saint viewsthumb|150px|right|Bern Switzerland Temple statue of the angel MoroniJoseph Smith, Jr.
, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement
), and several of his associates, claimed that they were visited by angels on multiple occasions and for a variety of purposes in conjunction with the restoration of the gospel of Jesus.
According to the official doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
, (Bible Dictionary entry on "Angels"):
:: "These are the messengers of the Lord, and are spoken of in the epistle to the Hebrews as 'ministering spirits'. We learn from latter-day revelation that there are two classes of heavenly beings who minister for the Lord: those who are spirits and those who have bodies of flesh and bone. Spirits are those beings who either have not yet obtained a body of flesh and bone (unembodied), or who have once had a mortal body and have died, and are awaiting the resurrection (disembodied). Ordinarily the word 'angel' means those ministering persons who have a body of flesh and bone, being either resurrected from the dead (reembodied), or else translated, as were Enoch, Elijah, etc. (D&C 129)."
Joseph Smith, Jr.
described his first angelic encounter thus (Joseph Smith History 1:31-33):
:: "While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.
:: "He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.
:: "Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me."
People who claimed to have received a visit by an angel include Joseph Smith, Jr.
, Oliver Cowdery
, David Whitmer
, Martin Harris
. Although Cowdery, Whitmer, and Harris all eventually became disaffected with Smith and left the church, none of them retracted their statement that they had seen and conversed with an angel of the Lord, and indeed, even defended their claim of angelic visitation to their deaths.
Names of some known angels who appeared are Moroni
, Peter, James, John
, John the Baptist
Michael the archangel was Adam
(the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah
(the one who built the ark).
, the Amesha Spentas
have often been regarded as angels, but this is not strictly correct since they don´t convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda
("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra
and then later (during the Achaemenid
period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...).
Also, angel-like beings called Tennin
appear in Japanese mythology
There are a number of New Age
-type books describing various ordinary people's encounters with angels or angel-like beings.
In English, the Sanskrit word Deva
is usually translated as "god" (though sometimes left as "Deva"), which certainly gives a polytheistic appearance to Hinduism. Many Hindus say that this is a poor practice, because the best word for God in Sanskrit is Ishvara
(the Supreme Lord). The Devas may be better translated as angels or demigods. They are celestial beings with supernatural powers, but also weaknesses. They grant material benefits to humans upon praying and sacrificing to them, though they don't carry the message of Ishvara to the humans as in Abrahamic religions (a category of such beings also exist, called "devaduta" or "duta"). Examples of such devas are Indra
, etc. Buddhism and Jainism also use the word "deva
", but in different senses.
tried to teach people to attain what he called "the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel
". Within the system of Thelema
, the Holy Guardian Angel
is representative of one’s truest divine nature. Citing Crowley, people have linked the term with the Genius of the Golden Dawn
, the Augoeides
, the Atman
, and the Daemon
of the gnostic
According to most Thelemites, the single most important goal is to consciously connect with one’s HGA, a process termed "Knowledge and Conversation." By doing so, the magician becomes fully aware of his own True Will
. For Crowley, this event was the single most important goal of any adept:
It should never be forgotten for a single moment that the central and essential work of the Magician is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Once he has achieved this he must of course be left entirely in the hands of that Angel, who can be invariably and inevitably relied upon to lead him to the further great step—crossing of the Abyss and the attainment of the grade of Master of the Temple. (Magick Without Tears, Ch.83)
Crowley felt that attaining Knowledge and Conversation was so important, that he staked the claim that any other magical operation was, in a sense, evil.
Angels as a development step of the soul
believe that a soul
grows in steps from a mineral, to a plant, then an animal
, and then to a human. When the human body dies, a soul could become an angel. The Persian Sufi
mystic poet Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi
wrote in his poem Masnavi
:I died as inanimate matter and arose a plant,
:I died as a plant and rose again an animal.
:I died as an animal and arose a man.
:Why then should I fear to become less by dying?
:I shall die once again as a man
:To rise an angel perfect from head to foot!
:Again when I suffer dissolution as an angel,
:I shall become what passes the conception of man!
:Let me then become non-existent, for non-existence
:Sings to me in organ tones, 'To him shall we return.'
:(Translation from Wikisource, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Masnavi_I_Ma'navi:_Book_III Masnavi I Ma'navi, Book III
, Story XVII)’’
The Christian mystic Emanuel Swedenborg
has a similar imagination. In his late work Conjugal Love
he describes, that a soul of a man and a soul of a woman are united by the marriage in Heaven to become an angel.
* Hierarchy of angels
* Angels in art
, ancient sect that worshipped angels
* Angel of death
* Guardian angel
* Cheyne, James Kelly (ed.) (1899). Angel. Encyclopædia biblica
. New York, Macmillan.
* Driver, Samuel Rolles (Ed.) (1901) The book of Daniel.
* Hastings, James (ed.) (1898). Angel. A dictionary of the Bible
. New York: C. Scribner's sons.
* Oosterzee, Johannes Jacobus van. Christian dogmatics: a text-book for academical instruction and private study.
Trans. John Watson Watson and Maurice J. Evans. (1874) New York, Scribner, Armstrong.
* Smith, George Adam (1898) The book of the twelve prophets, commonly called the minor.
London, Hodder and Stoughton.
* Bamberger, Bernard Jacob, (March 15, 2006
). Fallen Angels: Soldiers of Satan's Realm.
Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0797-0
* 1911|Bennett, William
* Briggs, Constance Victoria, 1997
. The Encyclopedia of Angels : An A-to-Z Guide with Nearly 4,000 Entries.
Plume. ISBN 0-452-27921-6.
* Bunson, Matthew, (1996
). Angels A to Z : A Who's Who of the Heavenly Host.
Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-517-88537-9.
* Cruz, Joan Carroll, OCDS, 1999
. Angels and Devils.
TAN Books and Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-89555-638-3
* Davidson, Gustav. A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels
. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-907052-X
* Graham, Billy, 1994
. Angels: God's Secret Agents.
W Pub Group; Minibook edition. ISBN 0-8499-5074-0
* Guiley, Rosemary, 1996. Encyclopedia of Angels.
* Kainz, Howard P., "Active and Passive Potency" in Thomistic Angelology
Martinus Nijhoff. ISBN 90-247-1295-5
* Kreeft, Peter J. 1995
. Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know About Them?
Ignatius Press. ISBN 0-89870-550-9
* Lewis, James R. (1995
). Angels A to Z.
Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0-7876-0652-9
* Melville, Francis, 2001
. The Book of Angels: Turn to Your Angels for Guidance, Comfort, and Inspiration.
Barron's Educational Series; 1st edition. ISBN 0-7641-5403-6
* Ronner, John, 1993
. Know Your Angels: The Angel Almanac With Biographies of 100 Prominent Angels in Legend & Folklore-And Much More!
Mamre Press. ISBN 0-932945-40-6.
* Swedenborg, Emanuel (1979
). Conjugal Love.
Swedenborg Foundation. ISBN 0-87785-054-2
* http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01476d.htm Catholic Encyclopedia entry on angels
* http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1521&letter=A&search=angelology Jewish Encyclopedia entry on angels
* http://www.carelinks.net/books/dh/angels/angelsindex.htm Angels- an extensive Biblical survey
* http://www.biblebasicsonline.com/english/Study01God/0104TheAngels.html A case that Angels cannot sin
* http://www.sunna.info/Lessons/islam_331.html Angels in Islam
* http://www.heart7.net/spirit/top.html Christian/occult-oriented A-Z guide to names of individual angels, angelic hierarchies and other reference materials
* http://www.entheomedia.org/datura_gallery.htm Entheomedia.org
* http://store.aetv.com/html/product/index.jhtml?id=73021 Angels: Good or Evil"
, The History Channel, TV documentary, originally aired May 10, 2003. IMDB title|id=0407528|title=Angels: Good or Category:Abrahamic religionsCategory:New AgeCategory:TanakhCategory:ZoroastrianismCategory:Christianityang:Engelar:ملاكbg:Ангел (религия)br:Aelbs:Anđelca:Àngelcs:Andělda:Engelde:Engelet:Ingeles:Ángeleo:Anĝelofr:Angehi:फ़रिश्ताid:Malaikatit:Angelohe:מלאךla:Angeluslt:Angelashu:Angyalms:Malaikatnl:Engelja:天使no:Engelpl:Aniołpt:Anjoro:Îngerru:Ангелsimple:Angelsk:Anjelfi:Enkelisv:Ängelvi:Thiên sứchr:ᎠᏂᏓᏪᎯtr:Melekuk:Ангелzh:天使