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Angels Essay

3003 words - 12 pages


The term angel derives from a Greek translation of the Hebrew word mal'akh, which first meant "Shadow side of God," and now means messenger (Jeremiah 59). Angels as an article of faith have become an unshakeable part of our society. One in every ten popular songs involves angels in some way (Freeman 2). They appear in paintings and in museums as sculptures. Our culture is filled with angels that appear on clothing, cards, or as souvenirs, and jewelry. It would be reasonable to assume that one might find the most information about angels in the Christian bible. However , the bible only mentions three angels by name and actually contains very little information about these beings. Almost all of the information we have about angelic attributes comes from the three great Chronicles of Enoch. In these chronicles Enoch describes his journey to the ten Heavens where he saw angels in heaven's penal and punishment area, punishing sinners. His view was that hell existed in small pockets that were distributed throughout heaven. This view was not consistent with the later Church that believed heaven and hell were two separate places. Because of this, St. Jerome declared these texts apocryphal (Godwin 9). However, a lot of material from these chronicles appears in the New Testament. Though much of what we know currently about what angels are and what they do is based on misconception and myth, the concern of this paper is with the genus Angelus Occidentalis. This is the term used to describe a number of angelic species and sub-species in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity (Godwin 7). The term angel describes not only the benevolent forces of heaven but also the malevolent forces of hell. When Lucifer fell from heaven a supposed one third of the angels sided and fell with him. One third remained in heaven, and one third were neutral (Godwin 149). The focus of this paper will be on the angels of heaven who make up the heavenly hierarchy and the fallen angles of hell.

The creation of the angelic hierarchy is attributed to Pseudo-Dionysius. St Ambrose is responsible for the categories of angels which were taken from traditions whose origins are lost in time (Bloom 59). There are three hierarchies, each with three orders. The Upper Triad: Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. The Middle Triad: Dominations, Virtues, and Powers. The Lowest Triad: Principalities, Archangels, and Angels (Guiley 17).

The Upper Triad: The first triad seems to be centered around a central core of purity and light, closest to God. It is only in the third choir, the last choir of the triad that matter begins to appear.

The First Choir - Seraphim: These angels are the highest of God's angelic order. Their names mean "burning ones" (Lang 49). The only mention of Seraphs in the bible is Isa 6:2. They circle the throne of God chanting in Hebrew the Trisagion "Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh," which is "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts,...

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