The books of the judaic Torah) but angels are of course also referred to in the Christian New Testament as well, for instance in the revelation of John, where divine truths are reputed to have been revealed to john of Patmos by an angel,. Another example is when the messiahship of Jesus is reputed to have been proclaimed by angels at his birth. Clement of Alexandria, one of the early church fathers of Christianity, appears to have been influenced by hellenistic cosmology when he stated that angels functioned as the movers of the stars and controlled the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water. (A notion taken up later by alchemists in the middle Ages). In Christianity fallen angels have traditionally been referred to as demons, and in the european Middle Ages and the reformation period, various hierarchies of demons were developed, such as that associated with the seven deadly sins: Lucifer (pride) Mammon (avarice) Asmodeus (lechery) Satan (anger) beelzebub. Christian cosmology also took on board the notion of a personal, or guardian, angel, an idea, as we have seen, that could have been imported from any number of possible sources (from Zoroastrianism to judaism to ancient Greece or Egypt).
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Greek thought was very inventive on just about every level but there is little doubt that Greece too owed an immense debt to the cultures of Babylon and Egypt (in particular) that preceded. One aspect of iconography that may be of special interest to an angelologist looking at the culture of ancient Greece is the image of the halo that Christian artists and sunday-school attendees have come to know and love. In Greek art the sun-god Helios was often depicted with a halo, that is, a radiant circle or disk surrounding the head in an attempt to represent spiritual character through the symbolism of light. In Roman times self-applauding emperors were good sometimes also depicted with halos. (Because of its pagan origin, however, this convention was avoided in early Christian art). Throughout the middle Ages, however (by which time presumably the origins of the motif had been forgotten) angels were frequently depicted with circles of golden light surrounding their heads. Interestingly enough the halo is also found in Indian Buddhist art, appearing from the 3rd century ad onwards when it is believed that the motif was brought to the east by Greek invaders. Christianity most Christian cosmology can be traced first and foremost to judaism. However in certain respects Christian thinkers have developed their own ideas about angels. For instance, in 1259 ad thomas Aquinas gave a series of lectures on angels at the University of Paris, and the views that were expounded then continued to be referred to in Christian thought for several centuries. A number of angels are referred to in the first books of the Old Testament (i.e.
The development of the report idea of Satan as an archdemon in Judaism and Christianity was very likely to have been due to the influence of Zoroastrianism (see above in the book of Job the judaic Satan was merely a prosecutor of men in the court. That the influence of Zoroastrianism should have been largely responsible for Satan in Judaism in particular, and angels in Judaism in general, is underlined by the fact that it was not until post-exilic times (that is, after the jews returned from captivity in Babylon around. Other demons besides Satan that are mentioned in the judaic Old Testament (i.e. The pentatuech, the first five books of the Christian Old Testament also known as the torah) include, azazel (the demon of the wilderness, also given form in the myth of the scapegoat) leviathan and Rahab (demons of chaos) Lilith (a female demon of the night. I would urge keen angel-buffs to check out the Old Testament book of Enoch (probably compiled in stages somewhere between 165 bc and the start of the Christian era) where the story of the fall of the group of angels known as the watchers. The Greeks The word daemon, in the original Greek sense, meant a guardian divinity or inspiring spirit. A number of their gods could fly, such as Hermes the roman Mercury who had wings on his feet and was considered to be the messenger of the gods. The English word hermeneutics derives from the name of this Greek god, which in its traditional meaning of interpreting holy texts undoubtedly included shades of making sense of the words of the gods, so retaining the idea of facilitating a dialogue between above and below. In Greek mythology the idea of human flight crops up a number of times (for instance with the myth of Icarus, who not only learned to fly but whose ambition took him much too near the sun when he flew.).
This is what a certain encyclopædia has to say on these particular angels (in a section on Judaism ". A veritable heavenly bureaucracy. They belong to that marginal area between religion and for folklore. Like their counter-figures, the demons, they spondylolisthesis have a residual existence rooted in various layers of the jewish experience and interpretation of the universe. At some times they are highly individualized and sharply realized; at others, they flit in and out of the imagination like bats in the evening. The medieval philosophers Aristotelized or Platonized them; the early mystics neoplatonized them; the kabbalists continually invented new ones and fitted them into their complicated network of cosmic existence". Encyclopædia britannica The leader of the hebrew forces of evil (aka shedim ) was variously called, satan (the Antagonist) Belial (the spirit of perversion, darkness, and destruction) Mastema (Enmity, or Opposition. Two archangels are mentioned in the canonical Old Testament: Michael, the warrior leader of the heavenly hosts Gabriel, the heavenly messenger Two are mentioned in the apocryphal Old Testament: Raphael, gods healer or helper (in the book of Tobit and Uriel (Fire of God the.
Thus our present-day western concept of a devil derives from the zoroastrian concept of a daeva (or demon). The word devil derives both from the word daeva (that can be traced right across to India, see below) and the Greek word daibolos, meaning slanderer or accuser, which is clearly an attempt to embody the jewish concept of Satan. Judaism The early semitic peoples of the middle east believed in a wide variety of what we would now call nature spirits. Seemingly their views were informed firstly by animistic beliefs of a general kind common to widely disparate cultures across the world (where intelligences are attributed to inanimate objects and natural phenomena) but secondly they were informed by zoroastrianism (see above). Included among the legions of spirits were the spirits of wind and of fire, and these were held to be especially significant. These spirits appear to have been the basis for what later came to be known as the cherubim and seraphim (associated with wind and fire respectively: -note: did you know that originally the seraphim were believed to have six wings three pairs and not just. When these polytheistic ancestors of present-day judaism transformed themselves into something much closer to the monotheistic Judaism of today, (probably in the centuries before during and after Moses, around 1300 BC) a number of aspects of the ancestral religion(s) were inherited. Beliefs pertaining to angels were but one of many aspects of the precursor religion(s) that remained. Furthermore, the influence of Zoroastrainism continued throughout the millennium before Christ, with more and more angels (that were more and more the messengers of God) finding their way into jewish writings.
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The mithras-cult images of Mithras that we see here are typical close variations on the same scene, where mithras fights the sacred bull, with his cloak billowing out behind him in a way that seems meant to suggest wings. Over and over again we find Mithras depicted in this way. Mihr, the ancient Persian form of the word mithras, meant not only sun but also friend, and this is how Mithras was worshipped, both as a distant sun-god and also as a close personal source of love and support (ideas which are not a million. For more information on Mithras see a skeptic's guide to Church History - mithras and The cult of Mithras. Zoroastrianism A few paragraphs above we talked of how, in the fourth, third and second millennia before Christ, a number of migrations of European Indo-european people took place, with people of European ancestry finding their way eastward to central Asia and as far as India. Zoroaster was a real-life member of this ethnic grouping, living in Persia send (in and around present-day iran, turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) around 650 bc, when as a result of what he claimed were angelic communications, he spread a monotheistic religious message that subsequently became the religion.
Zoroastrianism identifies six main archangels: the Archangel of good Thought the Archangel of Right the Archangel of Dominion the Archangel of piety the Archangel of Prosperity the Archangel of Immorality along with at least 40 lesser angels called Adorable Ones Some of these angels/archangels were. On a lower level again the third rank of angels in Zoroastrian cosmology were the guardian Angels, each one assigned as guide, conscience, protector and helpmate throughout the life of one single human being. All of the various hierarchies of angels were considered to be divine gifts, all of them aspects or manifestations of the one lord of Light. Zoroastrians also believed that corresponding to the lord of Light there was also a lord of Darkness, with complementary demons and evil spirits, and it was felt that in the battle between light and darkness the forces of light would eventually win. To demonstrate the lengths to which one must go in an attempt to put together any sort of complete history of angels, one need only look at some of the terminology: for instance the demons of Zoroastrianism, that are referred to as daevas, exist. In the ancient Hinduism of the vedas, however, we find demons referred to as asuras, existing in opposition to divine forces known as devas.
As with the sumerians, Egyptian iconography includes winged humans of one sort or another also: for instance Isis, queen of all the Egyptian goddesses, is often represented as a woman with wings. The flowering of Sumerian culture was contemporaneous with the first few dynasties of the great culture of ancient Egypt, around 2,500 bc, and archaeologists incline to the view that there was a traffic not only of artifacts, but also of ideas and iconography between Sumeria. However archaeologists are apparently not in a position to say clearly whether the winged human motif was imported into Egypt from Sumeria, or vice versa, or whether it arose spontaneously and separately in each of the two cultures. The Indo-european Migration Beginning at the end of the fourth millennium bc, there was a movement of people, whose distinct ethnicity we have come to call Indo-european, from Europe to central Asia, and even as far as North India. This movement is still shrouded in a degree of mystery, but it would appear that there were probably a number of migratory waves in an easterly direction up to and including the first millennium bc, reaching a peak around 2000.
Among other things this migration helps explain the similarities between the ancient Greek and ancient Sanskrit languages. Modern Tajik is a linguistic relative. But how does this relate to the subject at hand? Well, when we look at the extent of these Indo-european migrations, across thousands of miles of Asian landscape into the mists of time, it helps to underline the fact that there must have been a dissemination of both objects and ideas between Central Asia and. A look at a map of the (later) Persian empire also helps underline the extent to which artifacts and culture could travel from India on the one hand to Greece on the other (and vice versa). And just as we find the god Mithras (for instance) popping up in Greece and Central Asia (see next section so we find his counterpart Mitra in the rig-Veda, the most ancient of all Hindu texts (that possibly goes back in spoken form to 3,000. Mithraism Mithras was a light-bringer god, whose cult flourished between 1500 bc and the time of Christ, in lands as far apart as India and Great Britain, with a basis in what was then known as Persia (see below map of the persian empire around. Although in his own cult Mithras does not fully conform to the image of angel that we are particularly interested in here, nevertheless Mithraism was the most prevalent religion in Persia when Zoroaster (qv section below) was alive, and in Zoroastrianism Mithras was considered. In Vedic cosmology also (where in the rig Veda, mitra is mentioned over 200 times mitra appears often to be more angel than god.
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Recent evidence suggests that this is the case. Egypt The forms of some of the most enduring Egyptian gods can be traced back to the first few dynasties, that is, to around 2,500. In many cases these gods took the shape of some animal, which was regarded as the soul (Ba) of the god slogan Horus, god of the sky, for instance, was represented as a falcon, whereas Thoth, god of the moon and patron of writing, learning and. Isis and maat were often represented with wings as we can see in the two images above and below. The Egyptian book of the dead lists 500 gods and goddesses, and it is possible to identify at least 1200 more deities in later ancient Egyptian writings. Some of these deities were undoubtedly closer to our concept of an angel rather than a god, however: for instance there was at one time a cult dedicated to invoking the help of the hunmanit, who were a group of entities connected with the sun. The hunmanit had a responsibility to look after the sun, such that by looking after the sun, they were also indirectly fulfilling a responsibility to look after humanity at the same time. Insofar as they were guardians, and angels, it does not seem unreasonable to characterize them as early versions of the guardian angel.
Another is the so-called paneled-facade type of architecture found in Egyptian tombs from the first to the Third Dynasties (3200 to 2800. The most remarkable evidence of cultural connection is that shown in the architecture of the early dynastic tombs of Egypt and story Mesopotamian seal-impressions showing almost exactly similar buildings". Leonard Cottrell in The quest for Sumer, sumerian domination of the middle east came to an end around 2,000 bc, when. Sumer was defeated militarily and the overlapping Assyrian and Babylonian cultures took over. Winged figures can also be found among the icons of ancient Assyria and Babylonia. But how, exactly, did images of angelic beings find their way into the hearts, minds and iconography of the sumerian people(s one asks? Where did the notion of an angel come from before that? We are lucky to have had the extremely durable stone artifacts of this period handed down to us, but (as with the dark ages much much later in Europe) just because a prior culture did not commit itself to the written word, to pictures. Almost certainly, the motif of a winged human figure goes back much further than Sumeria even, in fact the motif almost certainly goes back into the shamanic mists of time.
each of the many semitic gods, further subdividing these groups into vertical ranked hierarchies, a notion which persisted into zoroastrianism and monotheistic Judaism and beyond, as we shall see. Sumerian ideas probably set the scene for the development of Egyptian theology as well, although it is difficult to be clear about the detail of such cross-cultural influences. "The civilization of the jemdet Nasr period of Mesopotamia and the archaic period of Egypt are apparently roughly contemporary, but the interesting point is that in Mesopotamia many of the features of civilization appear to have a background, whereas in Egypt they do not. It is on this basis that many authorities consider that. Egypt owes her civilization to the people of the euphrates. There is no doubt that there is a connection, but whether direct or indirect we do not know". Emergy "There are certain elements in Egypts Early dynastic Period which seem to betray unmistakable sumerian influence. Egyptian hieroglyphic writing may be one.
Sumeria, sumerian society is the oldest society that has left us clear evidence of friendship the use of a winged human motif. This evidence is in the form of stone carvings, either in the form of three-d statues or relief carvings that provide the illusion of three-dimensionality. Sumerian culture flourished around 3,000 bc between the tigris and Euphrates rivers in present-day. Iraq (see below map showing the geographical extent of Sumerian culture). The religion of these people was complex, embracing a wide variety of spirits and gods, but of particular interest was their belief in messengers of the gods, angelic forces who ran errands between gods and humans. The sumerians also believed that each person had a ghost of some sort (that we would now probably label as guardian angel) with this entity remaining a constant companion for a person throughout their life. Altars that appear to be dedicated to guardian angels have been found in the excavations of ancient Sumerian homes, along with stone engravings and temple wall paintings of human figures with wings.
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By, richard Ebbs from, richardEbbs, website, spanish version, introduction. Have you ever had a flying dream? In my experience, and the experience of people i know, such dreams tend to be particularly intense, as though the action of flying in the dream has some special significance. Notwithstanding the Freudian approach that labels flying dreams as always symbolizing sex!, it now seems pretty clear that such dreams can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For whatever reason, its fair to say that the idea of human beings being able to fly is resume something that has fascinated people since time immemorial. Consequently, images of human beings with wings can be found across the world in every major culture. This essay explores the connections between the winged human motif and angels in the art and religious thinking of exclusively western (i.e. Christian/Islamic/Judaic) cultures, with a brief look at a number of strands of thought from ancient Sumeria and beyond, to the present-day. Our word angel comes from the Greek angelos, which itself could be considered as a translation of the hebrew word malakh, meaning messenger, etymology suggesting a being responsible for carrying messages between the human world and some other realm or realms of existence, someone who.