(Latin angelus; Greek aggelos; from the Hebrew for "one going" or "one sent"; messenger).
                         The word is used in Hebrew to denote indifferently either a divine or
                         human messenger. The Septuagint renders it by aggelos which also has both
                         significations. The Latin version, however, distinguishes the divine or
                         spirit-messenger from the human, rendering the original in the one case by
                         angelus and in the other by legatus or more generally by nuntius. In a few
                         passages the Latin version is misleading, the word angelus being used where
                         nuntius would have better expressed the meaning, e.g. Isaiah 18:2; 33:3, 6.

                         It is with the spirit-messenger alone that we are here concerned. We have to

                              the meaning of the term in the Bible,
                              the offices of the angels,
                              the names assigned to the angels,
                              the distinction between good and evil spirits,
                              the divisions of the angelic choirs,
                              the question of angelic appearances, and
                              the development of the scriptural idea of angels.

                         The angels are represented throughout the Bible as a body of spiritual beings
                         intermediate between God and men: "You have made him (man) a little less than
                         the angels" (Psalm 8:6). They, equally with man, are created beings; "praise ye
                         Him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts . . . for He spoke and they were
                         made. He commanded and they were created" (Psalm 148:2, 5: Colossians
                         1:16, 17). That the angels were created was laid down in the Fourth Lateran
                         Council (1215). The decree "Firmiter" against the Albigenses declared both the
                         fact that they were created and that men were created after them. This decree
                         was repeated by the Vatican Council, "Dei Filius". We mention it here because
                         the words: "He that liveth for ever created all things together" (Ecclesiasticus
                         18:1) have been held to prove a simultaneous creation of all things; but it is
                         generally conceded that "together" (simul) may here mean "equally", in the
                         sense that all things were "alike" created. They are spirits; the writer of the
                         Epistle to the Hebrews says: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister
                         to them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?" (Heb. i, 14).

                         Attendants at God's throne

                         It is as messengers that they most often figure in the Bible, but, as St.
                         Augustine, and after him St. Gregory, expresses it: angelus est nomen officii
                         ("angel is the name of the office") and expresses neither their essential nature
                         nor their essential function, viz.: that of attendants upon God's throne in that
                         court of heaven of which Daniel has left us a vivid picture:

                              I behold till thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days sat: His
                              garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like clean
                              wool: His throne like flames of fire: the wheels of it like a burning
                              fire. A swift stream of fire issued forth from before Him: thousands
                              of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred
                              thousand stood before Him: the judgment sat and the books were
                              opened. (Daniel 7:9-10; cf. also Psalm 96:7; Psalm 102:20; Isaiah
                              6, etc.)

                         This function of the angelic host is expressed by the word "assistance" (Job, i, 6:
                         ii, 1), and our Lord refers to it as their perpetual occupation (Matt., xviii, 10). More
                         than once we are told of seven angels whose special function it is thus to "stand
                         before God's throne" (Tob., xii, 15; Apoc., viii, 2-5). The same thought may be
                         intended by "the angel of His presence" (Is., lxiii, 9) an expression which also
                         occurs in the pseudo-epigraphical "Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs".

                         God's messengers to mankind

                         But these glimpses of life beyond the veil are only occasional. The angels of the
                         Bible generally appear in the role of God's messengers to mankind. They are His
                         instruments by whom He communicates His will to men, and in Jacob's vision
                         they are depicted as ascending and descending the ladder which stretches from
                         earth to heaven while the Eternal Father gazes upon the wanderer below. It was
                         an angel who found Agar in the wilderness (Gen., xvi); angels drew Lot out of
                         Sodom; an angel announces to Gideon that he is to save his people; an angel
                         foretells the birth of Samson (Judges, xiii), and the angel Gabriel instructs Daniel
                         (Dan., viii, 16), though he is not called an angel in either of these passages, but
                         "the man Gabriel" (9:21). The same heavenly spirit announced the birth of St.
                         John the Baptist and the Incarnation of the Redeemer, while tradition ascribes to
                         him both the message to the shepherds (Luke, ii, 9), and the most glorious
                         mission of all, that of strengthening the King of Angels in His Agony (Luke
                         22:43). The spiritual nature of the angels is manifested very clearly in the account
                         which Zacharias gives of the revelations bestowed upon him by the ministry of an
                         angel. The prophet depicts the angel as speaking "in him". He seems to imply
                         that he was conscious of an interior voice which was not that of God but of His
                         messenger. The Massoretic text, the Septuagint, and the Vulgate all agree in
                         thus describing the communications made by the angel to the prophet. It is a
                         pity that the "Revised Version" should, in apparent defiance of the above-named
                         texts, obscure this trait by persistently giving the rendering: "the angel that
                         talked with me: instead of "within me" (cf. Zach., i, 9, 13, 14; ii, 3; iv, 5; v, 10).

                         Such appearances of angels generally last only so long as the delivery of their
                         message requires, but frequently their mission is prolonged, and they are
                         represented as the constituted guardians of the nations at some particular crisis,
                         e.g. during the Exodus (Exod., xiv, 19; Baruch, vi, 6). Similarly it is the common
                         view of the Fathers that by "the prince of the Kingdom of the Persians" (Dan., x,
                         13; x, 21) we are to understand the angel to whom was entrusted the spiritual
                         care of that kingdom, and we may perhaps see in the "man of Macedonia" who
                         appeared to St. Paul at Troas, the guardian angel of that country (Acts. xvi, 9).
                         The Septuagint (Deut., xxxii, 8), has preserved for us a fragment of information on
                         this head, though it is difficult to gauge its exact meaning: "When the Most High
                         divided the nations, when He scattered the children of Adam, He established the
                         bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God". How large
                         a part the ministry of angels played, not merely in Hebrew theology, but in the
                         religious ideas of other nations as well, appears from the expression "like to an
                         angel of God". It is three times used of David (II K., xiv, 17, 20; xiv, 27) and once
                         by Achis of Geth (I K., xxlx, 9). It is even applied by Esther to Assuerus (Esther,
                         xv, 16), and St. Stephen's face is said to have looked "like the face of an angel"
                         as he stood before the Sanhedrin (Acts, vi, 15).

                         Personal guardians

                         Throughout the Bible we find it repeatedly implied that each individual soul has its
                         tutelary angel. Thus Abraham, when sending his steward to seek a wife for Isaac,
                         says: "He will send His angel before thee" (Genesis 24:7). The words of the
                         ninetieth Psalm which the devil quoted to our Lord (Matt., iv, 6) are well known,
                         and Judith accounts for her heroic deed by saying: "As the Lord liveth, His angel
                         hath been my keeper" (xiii, 20). These passages and many like them (Gen., xvi,
                         6-32; Osee, xii, 4; III K., xix, 5; Acts, xii, 7; Ps., xxxiii, 8), though they will not of
                         themselves demonstrate the doctrine that every individual has his appointed
                         guardian angel, receive their complement in our Saviour's words: "See that you
                         despise not on of these little ones; for I say to you that their angels in Heaven
                         always see the face of My Father Who is in Heaven" (Matt, xviii, 10), words
                         which illustrate the remark of St. Augustine: "What lies hidden in the Old
                         Testament, is made manifest in the New". Indeed, the book of Tobias seems
                         intended to teach this truth more than any other, and St. Jerome in his
                         commentary on the above words of our Lord says: "The dignity of a soul is so
                         great, that each has a guardian angel from its birth." The general doctrine that
                         the angels are our appointed guardians is considered to be a point of faith, but
                         that each individual member of the human race has his own individual guardian
                         angel is not of faith (de fide); the view has, however, such strong support from the
                         Doctors of the Church that it would be rash to deny it (cf. St. Jerome, supra).
                         Peter the Lombard (Sentences, lib. II, dist. xi) was inclined to think that one
                         angel had charge of several individual human beings. St. Bernard's beautiful
                         homilies (11-14) on the ninetieth Psalm breathe the spirit of the Church without
                         however deciding the question. The Bible represents the angels not only as our
                         guardians, but also as actually interceding for us. "The angel Raphael (Tob., xii,
                         12) says: "I offered thy prayer to the Lord" (cf. Job, v, 1 (Septuagint), and 33:23
                         (Vulgate); Apocalypse 8:4). The Catholic cult of the angels is thus thoroughly
                         scriptural. Perhaps the earliest explicit declaration of it is to be found in St.
                         Ambrose's words: "We should pray to the angels who are given to us as
                         guardians" (De Viduis, ix); (cf. St. Aug., Contra Faustum, xx, 21). An undue cult
                         of angels was reprobated by St. Paul (Col., ii, 18), and that such a tendency long
                         remained in the same district is evidenced by Canon 35 of the Synod of

                         As Divine Agents Governing The World

                         The foregoing passages, especially those relating to the angels who have charge
                         of various districts, enable us to understand the practically unanimous view of the
                         Fathers that it is the angels who put into execution God's law regarding the
                         physical world. The Semitic belief in genii and in spirits which cause good or evil
                         is well known, and traces of it are to be found in the Bible. Thus the pestilence
                         which devastated Israel for David's sin in numbering the people is attributed to an
                         angel whom David is said to have actually seen (II K., xxiv, 15-17), and more
                         explicitly, I Par., xxi, 14-18). Even the wind rustling in the tree-tops was regarded
                         as an angel (II K., v, 23, 24; I Par., xiv, 14, 15). This is more explicitly stated with
                         regard to the pool of Probatica (John, v, 1-4), though these is some doubt about
                         the text; in that passage the disturbance of the water is said to be due to the
                         periodic visits of an angel. The Semites clearly felt that all the orderly harmony of
                         the universe, as well as interruptions of that harmony, were due to God as their
                         originator, but were carried out by His ministers. This view is strongly marked in
                         the "Book of Jubilees" where the heavenly host of good and evil angels is every
                         interfering in the material universe. Maimonides (Directorium Perplexorum, iv and
                         vi) is quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theol., I:1:3) as holding that the
                         Bible frequently terms the powers of nature angels, since they manifest the
                         omnipotence of God (cf. St. Jerome, In Mich., vi, 1, 2; P. L., iv, col. 1206).

                         Hierarchical organization

                         Though the angels who appear in the earlier works of the Old Testament are
                         strangely impersonal and are overshadowed by the importance of the message
                         they bring or the work they do, there are not wanting hints regarding the
                         existence of certain ranks in the heavenly army.

                         After Adam's fall Paradise is guarded against our First Parents by cherubim who
                         are clearly God's ministers, though nothing is said of their nature. Only once
                         again do the cherubim figure in the Bible, viz., in Ezechiel's marvellous vision,
                         where they are described at great length (Ezech., i), and are actually called
                         cherub in Ezechiel, x. The Ark was guarded by two cherubim, but we are left to
                         conjecture what they were like. It has been suggested with great probability that
                         we have their counterpart in the winged bulls and lions guarding the Assyrian
                         palaces, and also in the strange winged men with hawks' heads who are
                         depicted on the walls of some of their buildings. The seraphim appear only in the
                         vision of Isaias, vi, 6.

                         Mention has already been made of the mystic seven who stand before God, and
                         we seem to have in them an indication of an inner cordon that surrounds the
                         throne. The term archangel occurs only in St. Jude and I Thess., iv, 15; but St.
                         Paul has furnished us with two other lists of names of the heavenly cohorts. He
                         tells us (Ephes., i, 21) that Christ is raised up "above all principality, and power,
                         and virtue, and dominion"; and, writing to the Colossians (i, 16), he says: "In Him
                         were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether
                         thrones or dominations, or principalities or powers." It is to be noted that he uses
                         two of these names of the powers of darkness when (ii, 15) he talks of Christ as
                         "despoiling the principalities and powers . . . triumphing over them in Himself".
                         And it is not a little remarkable that only two verses later he warns his readers
                         not to be seduced into any "religion of angels". He seems to put his seal upon a
                         certain lawful angelology, and at the same time to warn them against indulging
                         superstition on the subject. We have a hint of such excesses in the Book of
                         Enoch, wherein, as already stated, the angels play a quite disproportionate part.
                         Similarly Josephus tells us (Be. Jud., II, viii, 7) that the Essenes had to take a
                         vow to preserve the names of the angels.

                         We have already seen how (Daniel 10:12-21) various districts are allotted to
                         various angels who are termed their princes, and the same feature reappears still
                         more markedly in the Apocalyptic "angels of the seven churches", though it is
                         impossible to decide what is the precise signification of the term. These seven
                         Angels of the Churches are generally regarded as being the Bishops occupying
                         these sees. St. Gregory Nazianzen in his address to the Bishops at
                         Constantinople twice terms them "Angels", in the language of the Apocalypse.

                         The treatise "De Coelesti Hierarchia", which is ascribed to St. Denis the
                         Areopagite, and which exercised so strong an influence upon the Scholastics,
                         treats at great length of the hierarchies and orders of the angels. It is generally
                         conceded that this work was not due to St. Denis, but must date some centuries
                         later. Though the doctrine it contains regarding the choirs of angels has been
                         received in the Church with extraordinary unanimity, no proposition touching the
                         angelic hierarchies is binding on our faith. The following passages from St.
                         Gregory the Great (Hom. 34, In Evang.) will give us a clear idea of the view of the
                         Church's doctors on the point:

                              We know on the authority of Scripture that there are nine orders of
                              angels, viz., Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities,
                              Dominations, Throne, Cherubim and Seraphim. That there are
                              Angels and Archangels nearly every page of the Bible tell us, and
                              the books of the Prophets talk of Cherubim and Seraphim. St.
                              Paul, too, writing to the Ephesians enumerates four orders when he
                              says: 'above all Principality, and Power, and Virtue, and
                              Domination'; and again, writing to the Colossians he says: 'whether
                              Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers'. If we now
                              join these two lists together we have five Orders, and adding
                              Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, we find nine
                              Orders of Angels.

                         St. Thomas (Summa Theologica I:108), following St. Denis (De Coelesti
                         Hierarchia, vi, vii), divides the angels into three hierarchies each of which
                         contains three orders. Their proximity to the Supreme Being serves as the basis
                         of this division. In the first hierarchy he places the Seraphim, Cherubim, and
                         Thrones; in the second, the Dominations, Virtues, and Powers; in the third, the
                         Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. The only Scriptural names furnished of
                         individual angels are Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel, names which signify their
                         respective attributes. Apocryphal Jewish books, such as the Book of Enoch,
                         supply those of Uriel and Jeremiel, while many are found in other apocryphal
                         sources, like those Milton names in "Paradise Lost". (On superstitious use of
                         such names, see above).

                         The number of angels

                         The number of the angels is frequently stated as prodigious (Daniel 7:10;
                         Apocalypse 5:11; Psalm 67:18; Matthew 26:53). From the use of the word host
                         (sabaoth) as a synonym for the heavenly army it is hard to resist the impression
                         that the term "Lord of Hosts" refers to God's Supreme command of the angelic
                         multitude (cf. Deuteronomy 33:2; 32:43; Septuagint). The Fathers see a
                         reference to the relative numbers of men and angels in the parable of the hundred
                         sheep (Luke 15:1-3), though this may seem fanciful. The Scholastics, again,
                         following the treatise "De Coelesti Hierarchia" of St. Denis, regard the
                         preponderance of numbers as a necessary perfection of the angelic host (cf. St.
                         Thomas, Summa Theol., I:1:3).

                         The evil angels

                         The distinction of good and bad angels constantly appears in the Bible, but it is
                         instructive to note that there is no sign of any dualism or conflict between two
                         equal principles, one good and the other evil. The conflict depicted is rather that
                         waged on earth between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the Evil One,
                         but the latter's inferiority is always supposed. The existence, then, of this inferior,
                         and therefore created, spirit, has to be explained.

                         The gradual development of Hebrew consciousness on this point is very clearly
                         marked in the inspired writings. The account of the fall of our First Parents (Gen.,
                         iii) is couched in such terms that it is impossible to see in it anything more than
                         the acknowledgment of the existence of a principle of evil who was jealous of the
                         human race. The statement (Gen., vi, 1) that the "sons of God" married the
                         daughters of men is explained of the fall of the angels, in Enoch, vi-xi, and
                         codices, D, E F, and A of the Septuagint read frequently, for "sons of God", oi
                         aggeloi tou theou. Unfortunately, codices B and C are defective in Ge., vi, but it
                         is probably that they, too, read oi aggeloi in this passage, for they constantly so
                         render the expression "sons of God"; cf. Job, i, 6; ii, 1; xxxviii, 7; but on the other
                         hand, see Ps., ii, 1; lxxxviii, & (Septuagint). Philo, in commenting on the
                         passage in his treatise "Quod Deus sit immutabilis", i, follows the Septuagint.
                         For Philo's doctrine of Angels, cf. "De Vita Mosis", iii, 2, "De Somniis", VI: "De
                         Incorrupta Manna", i; "De Sacrifciis", ii; "De Lege Allegorica", I, 12; III, 73; and for
                         the view of Gen., vi, 1, cf. St. Justin, Apol., ii 5. It should moreover be noted that
                         the Hebrew word nephilim rendered gigantes, in 6:4, may mean "fallen ones".
                         The Fathers generally refer it to the sons of Seth, the chosen stock. In I K., xix,
                         9, an evil spirit is said to possess Saul, though this is probably a metaphorical
                         expression; more explicit is III B., xxii, 19-23, where a spirit is depicted as
                         appearing in the midst of the heavenly army and offering, at the Lord's invitation,
                         to be a lying spirit in the mouth of Achab's false prophets. We might, with
                         Scholastics, explain this is malum poenae, which is actually caused by God
                         owing to man's fault. A truer exegesis would, however, dwell on the purely
                         imaginative tone of the whole episode; it is not so much the mould in which the
                         message is cast as the actual tenor of that message which is meant to occupy
                         our attention.

                         The picture afforded us in Job, i and ii, is equally imaginative; but Satan, perhaps
                         the earliest individualization of the fallen Angel, is presented as an intruder who is
                         jealous of Job. He is clearly an inferior being to the Deity and can only touch Job
                         with God's permission. How theologic thought advanced as the sum of revelation
                         grew appears from a comparison of II K, xxiv, 1, with I Paral., xxi, 1. Whereas in
                         the former passage David's sin was said to be due to "the wrath of the Lord"
                         which "stirred up David", in the latter we read that "Satan moved David to number
                         Israel". In Job. iv, 18, we seem to find a definite declaration of the fall: "In His
                         angels He found wickedness." The Septuagint of Job contains some instructive
                         passages regarding avenging angels in whom we are perhaps to see fallen
                         spirits, thus xxxiii, 23: "If a thousand death-dealing angels should be (against
                         him) not one of them shall wound him"; and xxxvi, 14: "If their souls should
                         perish in their youth (through rashness) yet their life shall be wounded by the
                         angels"; and xxi, 15: "The riches unjustly accumulated shall be vomited up, an
                         angel shall drag him out of his house;" cf. Prov., xvii, 11; Ps., xxxiv, 5, 6; lxxvii,
                         49, and especially, Ecclesiasticus, xxxix, 33, a text which, as far as can be
                         gathered from the present state of the manuscript, was in the Hebrew original. In
                         some of these passages, it is true, the angels may be regarded as avengers of
                         God's justice without therefore being evil spirits. In Zach., iii, 1-3, Satan is called
                         the adversary who pleads before the Lord against Jesus the High Priest. Isaias,
                         xiv, and Ezech., xxviii, are for the Fathers the loci classici regarding the fall of
                         Satan (cf. Tertull., adv. Marc., II, x); and Our Lord Himself has given colour to this
                         view by using the imagery of the latter passage when saying to His Apostles: "I
                         saw Satan like lightning falling from heaven" (Luke, x, 18). In New Testament
                         times the idea of the two spiritual kingdoms is clearly established. The devil is a
                         fallen angel who in his fall has drawn multitudes of the heavenly host in his train.
                         Our Lord terms him "the Prince of this world" (John xiv, 30); he is the tempter of
                         the human race and tries to involve them in his fall (Matthew, xxv, 41; II Peter, ii,
                         4: Ephes., vi, 12: II Cor., xi, 14; xii, 7). Christian imagery of the devil as the
                         dragon is mainly derived from the Apocalypse (ix, 11-15; xii, 7-9), where he is
                         termed "the angel of the bottomless pit", "the dragon", "the old serpent", etc.,
                         and is represented as having actually been in combat with Archangel Michael.
                         The similarity between scenes such as these and the early Babylonian accounts
                         of the struggle between Merodach and the dragon Tiamat is very striking.
                         Whether we are to trace its origin to vague reminiscences of the mighty saurians
                         which once people the earth is a moot question, but the curious reader may
                         consult Bousett, "The Anti-Christ Legend" (tr. by Keane, London, 1896). The
                         translator has prefixed to it an interesting discussion on the origin of the
                         Babylonian Dragon-Myth.

                         The Term "Angel" In The Septuagint

                         We have had occasion to mention the Septuagint version more than once, and it
                         may not be amiss to indicate a few passages where it is our only source of
                         information regarding the angels. The best known passage is Is., ix, 6, where the
                         Septuagint gives the name of the Messias, as "the Angel of great Counsel". We
                         have already drawn attention to Job, xx, 15, where the Septuagint reads "Angel"
                         instead of "God", and to xxxvi, 14, where there seems to be question of evil
                         angels. In ix 7, Septuagint (B) adds: "He is the Hebrew (v, 19) say of
                         "Behemoth": "He is the beginning of the ways of God, he that made him shall
                         make his sword to approach him:, the Septuagint reads: "He is the beginning of
                         God's creation, made for His Angels to mock at", and exactly the same remark
                         is made about "Leviathan", xli, 24. We have already seen that the Septuagint
                         generally renders the term "sons of God" by "angels", but in Deut., xxxii, 43, the
                         Septuagint has an addition in which both terms appear: "Rejoice in Him all ye
                         heavens, and adore Him all ye angels of God; rejoice ye nations with His people,
                         and magnify Him all ye Sons of God." Nor does the Septuagint merely give us
                         these additional references to angels; it sometimes enables us to correct difficult
                         passages concerning them in the Vulgate and Massoretic text. Thus the difficult
                         Elim of MT in Job, xli, 17, which the Vulgate renders by "angels", becomes "wild
                         beasts" in the Septuagint version. The early ideas as to the personality of the
                         various angelic appearances are, as we have seen, remarkably vague. At first the
                         angels are regarded in quite an impersonal way(Gen., xvi, 7).They are God's
                         vice-gerents and are often identified with the Author of their message (Gen., xlviii,
                         15-16). But while we read of "the Angels of God" meeting Jacob (Gen., xxxii, 1)
                         we at other times read of one who is termed "the Angel of God" par excellence,
                         e.g. Gen., xxxi, 11. It is true that, owing to the Hebrew idiom, this may mean no
                         more than "an angel of God", and the Septuagint renders it with or without the
                         article at will; yet the three visitors at Mambre seem to have been of different
                         ranks, though St. Paul (Heb., xiii, 2) regarded them all as equally angels; as the
                         story in Ge., xiii, develops, the speaker is always "the Lord". Thus in the account
                         of the Angel of the Lord who visited Gideon (Judges, vi), the visitor is alternately
                         spoken of as "the Angel of the Lord" and as "the Lord". Similarly, in Judges, xiii,
                         the Angel of the Lord appears, and both Manue and his wife exclaim: "We shall
                         certainly die because we have seen God." This want of clearness is particularly
                         apparent in the various accounts of the Angel of Exodus. In Judges, vi, just now
                         referred to, the Septuagint is very careful to render the Hebrew "Lord" by "the
                         Angel of the Lord"; but in the story of the Exodus it is the Lord who goes before
                         them in the pillar of a cloud (Exod., xiii 21), and the Septuagint makes no change
                         (cf. also Num., xiv, 14, and Neh., ix, 7-20. Yet in Exod., xiv, 19, their guide is
                         termed "the Angel of God". When we turn to Exod., xxxiii, where God is angry
                         with His people for worshipping the golden calf, it is hard not to feel that it is God
                         Himself who has hitherto been their guide, but who now refuses to accompany
                         them any longer. God offers an angel instead, but at Moses's petition He says
                         (14) "My face shall go before thee", which the Septuagint reads by autos though
                         the following verse shows that this rendering is clearly impossible, for Moses
                         objects: "If Thou Thyself dost not go before us, bring us not out of this place."
                         But what does God mean by "my face"? Is it possible that some angel of
                         specially high rank is intended, as in Is., lxiii, 9 (cf. Tobias, xii, 15)? May not this
                         be what is meant by "the angel of God" (cf. Num., xx, 16)?

                         That a process of evolution in theological thought accompanied the gradual
                         unfolding of God's revelation need hardly be said, but it is especially marked in
                         the various views entertained regarding the person of the Giver of the Law. The
                         Massoretic text as well as the Vulgate of Exod., iii and xix-xx clearly represent
                         the Supreme Being as appearing to Moses in the bush and on Mount Sinai; but
                         the Septuagint version, while agreeing that it was God Himself who gave the Law,
                         yet makes it "the angel of the Lord" who appeared in the bush. By New
                         Testament times the Septuagint view has prevailed, and it is now not merely in
                         the bush that the angel of the Lord, and not God Himself appears, but the angel
                         is also the Giver of the Law (cf. Gal., iii, 19; Heb., ii, 2; Acts, vii, 30). The person
                         of "the angel of the Lord" finds a counterpart in the personification of Wisdom in
                         the Sapiential books and in at least one passage (Zach., iii, 1) it seems to stand
                         for that "Son of Man" whom Daniel (vii, 13) saw brought before "the Ancient of
                         Days". Zacharias says: "And the Lord showed me Jesus the high priest standing
                         before the angel of the Lord, and Satan stood on His right hand to be His
                         adversary". Tertullian regards many of these passages as preludes to the
                         Incarnation; as the Word of God adumbrating the sublime character in which He
                         is one day to reveal Himself to men (cf. adv, Prax., xvi; adv. Marc., II, 27; III, 9: I,
                         10, 21, 22). It is possible, then, that in these confused views we can trace vague
                         gropings after certain dogmatic truths regarding the Trinity, reminiscences
                         perhaps of the early revelation of which the Protevangelium in Ge., iii is but a
                         relic. The earlier Fathers, going by the letter of the text, maintained that it was
                         actually God Himself who appeared. he who appeared was called God and acted
                         as God. It was not unnatural then for Tertullian, as we have already seen, to
                         regard such manifestations in the light of preludes to the Incarnation, and most of
                         the Eastern Fathers followed the same line of thought. It was held as recently as
                         1851 by Vandenbroeck, "Dissertatio Theologica de Theophaniis sub Veteri
                         Testamento" (Louvain).

                         But the great Latins, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory the Great, held
                         the opposite view, and the Scholastics as a body followed them. St. Augustine
                         (Sermo vii, de Scripturis, P. G. V) when treating of the burning bush (Exod., iii)
                         says: "That the same person who spoke to Moses should be deemed both the
                         Lord and an angel of the Lord, is very hard to understand. it is a question which
                         forbids any rash assertions bug rather demands careful investigation . . . Some
                         maintain that he is called both the Lord and the angel of the Lord because he
                         was Christ, indeed the prophet (Is., ix, 6, Septuagint Ver.) clearly styles Christ
                         the 'Angel of great Counsel.'" The saint proceeds to show that such a view is
                         tenable though we must be careful not to fall into Arianism in stating it. He points
                         out, however, that if we hold that it was an angel who appeared, we must explain
                         how he came to be called "the Lord," and he proceeds to show how this might
                         be: "Elsewhere in the Bible when a prophet speaks it is yet said to be the Lord
                         who speaks, not of course because the prophet is the Lord but because the Lord
                         is in the prophet; and so in the same way when the Lord condescends to speak
                         through the mouth of a prophet or an angel, it is the same as when he speaks by
                         a prophet or apostle, and the angel is correctly termed an angel if we consider
                         him himself, but equally correctly is he termed 'the Lord' because God dwells in
                         him." He concludes: "It is the name of the indweller, not of the temple." And a
                         little further on: "It seems to me that we shall most correctly say that our
                         forefathers recognized the Lord in the angel," and he adduces the authority of the
                         New Testament writers who clearly so understood it and yet sometimes allowed
                         the same confusion of terms (cf. Heb., ii, 2, and Acts, vii, 31-33). The saint
                         discusses the same question even more elaborately, "In Heptateuchum," lib. vii,
                         54, P. G. III, 558. As an instance of how convinced some of the Fathers were in
                         holding the opposite view, we may note Theodoret's words (In Exod.): "The whole
                         passage (Exod., iii) shows that it was God who appeared to him. But (Moses)
                         called Him an angel in order to let us know that it was not God the Father whom
                         he saw -- for whose angel could the Father be? -- but the Only-begotten Son, the
                         Angel of great Counsel" (cf. Eusebius, Hist. Eccles., I, ii, 7; St. Irenaeus, Haer.,
                         iii, 6). But the view propounded by the Latin Fathers was destined to live in the
                         Church, and the Scholastics reduced it to a system (cf. St. Thomas, Quaest.,
                         Disp., De Potentia, vi, 8, ad 3am); and for a very good exposition of both sides of
                         the question, cf. "Revue biblique," 1894, 232-247.

                         Angels In Babylonian Literature

                         The Bible has shown us that a belief in angels, or spirits intermediate between
                         God and man, is a characteristic of the Semitic people. It is therefore interesting
                         to trace this belief in the Semites of Babylonia. According to Sayce (The
                         Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, Gifford Lectures, 1901), the engrafting
                         of Semitic beliefs on the earliest Sumerian religion of Babylonia is marked by the
                         entrance of angels or sukallin in their theosophy. Thus we find an interesting
                         parallel to "the angels of the Lord" in Nebo, "the minister of Merodach" (ibid.,
                         355). He is also termed the "angel" or interpreter of the will or Merodach (ibid.,
                         456), and Sayce accepts Hommel's statement that it can be shown from the
                         Minean inscriptions that primitive Semitic religion consisted of moon and star
                         worship, the moon-god Athtar and an "angel" god standing at the head of the
                         pantheon (ibid., 315). The Biblical conflict between the kingdoms of good and evil
                         finds its parallel in the "spirits of heaven" or the Igigi--who constituted the "host"
                         of which Ninip was the champion (and from who he received the title of "chief of
                         the angels") and the "spirits of the earth", or Annuna-Ki, who dwelt in Hades
                         (ibid. 355). The Babylonian sukalli corresponded to the spirit0-messengers of the
                         Bible; they declared their Lord's will and executed his behests (ibid., 361). Some
                         of them appear to have been more than messengers; they were the interpreters
                         and vicegerents of the supreme deity, thus Nebo is "the prophet of Borsippa".
                         These angels are even termed "the sons" of the deity whose vicegerents they
                         are; thus Ninip, at one time the messenger of En-lil, is transformed into his son
                         just as Merodach becomes the son of Ea (ibid., 496). The Babylonian accounts
                         of the Creation and the Flood do not contrast very favourably with the Biblical
                         accounts, and the same must be said of the chaotic hierarchies of gods and
                         angels which modern research has revealed. perhaps we are justified in seeing
                         all forms of religion vestiges of a primitive nature-worship which has at times
                         succeeded in debasing the purer revelation, and which, where that primitive
                         revelation has not received successive increments as among the Hebrews,
                         results in an abundant crop of weeds.

                         Thus the Bible certainly sanctions the idea of certain angels being in charge of
                         special districts (cf. Dan., x, and above). This belief persists in a debased form in
                         the Arab notion of Genii, or Jinns, who haunt particular spots. A reference to it is
                         perhaps to be found in Gen., xxxii, 1,2: "Jacob also went on the journey he had
                         begun: and the angels of God met him: And when he saw then he said: These
                         are the camps of God, and he called the name of that place Mahanaim, that is,
                         'Camps.' " Recent explorations in the Arab district about Petra have revealed
                         certain precincts marked off with stones as the abiding-laces of angels, and the
                         nomad tribes frequent them for prayer and sacrifice. These places bear a name
                         which corresponds exactly with the "Mahanaim" of the above passage in
                         Genesis (cf. Lagrange, Religions Semitques, 184, and Robertson Smith, Religion
                         of the Semites, 445). Jacob's vision at Bethel (Gen., xxviii, 12) may perhaps
                         come under the same category. Suffice it to say that not everything in the Bible
                         is revelation, and that the object of the inspired writings is not merely to tell us
                         new truths but also to make clearer certain truths taught us by nature. The
                         modern view, which tends to regard everything Babylonian as absolutely primitive
                         and which seems to think that because critics affix a late date to the Biblical
                         writings the religion therein contained must also be late, may be seen in Haag,
                         "Theologie Biblique" (339). This writer sees in the Biblical angels only primitive
                         deities debased into demi-gods by the triumphant progress of Monotheism.

                         Angels in the Zend-Avesta

                         Attempts have also been made to trace a connection between the angels of the
                         Bible and the "great archangels" or "Amesha-Spentas" of the Zend-Avesta. That
                         the Persian domination and the Babylonian captivity exerted a large influence
                         upon the Hebrew conception of the angels is acknowledged in the Talmud of
                         Jerusalem, Rosch Haschanna, 56, where it is said that the names of the angels
                         were introduced from Babylon. it is, however, by no means clear that the angelic
                         beings who figure so largely in the pages of the Avesta are to be referred to the
                         older Persian Neo-Zoroastrianism of the Sassanides. If this be the case, as
                         Darmesteter holds, we should rather reverse the position and attribute the
                         Zoroastrian angels to the influence of the Bible and of Philo. Stress has been laid
                         upon the similarity between the Biblical "seven who stand before God" and the
                         seven Amesha-Spentas of the Zend-Avesta. But it must be noted that these
                         latter are really six, the number seven is only obtained by counting "their father,
                         Ahura-Mazda," among them as their chief. Moreover, these Zoroastrian
                         archangels are more abstract that concrete; they are not individuals charged with
                         weighty missions as in the Bible.

                         Angels in the New Testament

                         Hitherto we have dwelt almost exclusively on the angels of the Old Testament,
                         whose visits and messages have been by no means rare; but when we come to
                         the New Testament their name appears on every page and the number of
                         references to them equals those in the Old Dispensation. It is their privilege to
                         announce the Zachary and Mary the dawn of Redemption, and to the shepherds
                         its actual accomplishment. Our Lord in His discourses talks of them as one who
                         actually saw them, and who, whilst "conversing amongst men", was yet receiving
                         the silent unseen adoration of the hosts of heaven. He describes their life in
                         heaven (Matt., xxii, 30; Luke, xx, 36); He tell us how they form a bodyguard
                         round Him and at a word from Him would avenge Him on His enemies (Matt.,
                         xxvi, 53); it is the privilege of one of them to assist Him in His Agony and sweat
                         of Blood. More than once He speaks of them as auxiliaries and witnesses at the
                         final judgment (Matt., xvi, 27), which indeed they will prepare (ibid., xiii, 39-49);
                         and lastly, they are the joyous witnesses of His triumphant Resurrection (ibid.,
                         xxviii, 2). It is easy for skeptical minds to see in these angelic hosts the mere
                         play of Hebrew fancy and the rank growth of superstition, but do not the records
                         of the angels who figure in the Bible supply a most natural and harmonious
                         progression? In the opening page of the sacred story of the Jewish nation is
                         chose out from amongst others as the depositary of God's promise; as the
                         people from whose stock He would one day raise up a Redeemer. The angels
                         appear in the course of this chosen people's history, now as God's messengers,
                         now as that people's guides; at one time they are the bestowers of God's law, at
                         another they actually prefigure the Redeemer Whose divine purpose they are
                         helping to mature. They converse with His prophets, with David and Elias, with
                         Daniel and Zacharias; they slay the hosts camped against Israel, they serve as
                         guides to God's servants, and the last prophet, Malachi, bears a name of peculiar
                         significance; "the Angel of Jehovah." He seems to sum up in his very name the
                         previous "ministry by the hands of angels", as though God would thus recall the
                         old-time glories of the Exodus and Sinai. The Septuagint, indeed, seems not to
                         know his name as that of an individual prophet and its rendering of the opening
                         verse of his prophecy is peculiarly solemn: "The burden of the Word of the Lord of
                         Israel by the hand of His angel; lay it up in your hearts." All this loving ministry
                         on the part of the angels is solely for the sake of the Saviour, on Whose face
                         they desire to look. Hence when the fullness of time was arrived it is they who
                         bring the glad message, and sing "Gloria in excelsis Deo." They guide the
                         newborn King of Angels in His hurried flight into Egypt, and minister to Him in the
                         desert. His second coming and the dire events that must precede that, are
                         revealed to His chosen servant in the island of Patmos, It is a question of
                         revelation again, and consequently its ministers and messengers of old appear
                         once more in the sacred story and the record of God's revealing love ends fittingly
                         almost as it had begun: "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these
                         things in the churches" (Apoc., xxii, 16). It is easy for the student to trace the
                         influence of surrounding nations and of other religions in the Biblical account of
                         the angels. Indeed it is needful and instructive to do so, but it would be wrong to
                         shut our eyes to the higher line of development which we have shown and which
                         brings out so strikingly the marvellous unity and harmony of the whole divine
                         story of the Bible. (See also Angels in Early Christian Art)

                         In addition to works mentioned above, see St. Thomas, Summa Theol., I, QQ. 50-54 and 106-114;
                         Suarez De Angelis, lib. i-iv.

                         Hugh Pope
                         Transcribed by Jim Holden

                                           The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I
                                        Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company
                                        Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight
                                      Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
                                     Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

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