many religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam,
it is believed that between God and mankind there are intermediary
beings, called angels.
are bodiless entities that perform certain tasks for God
and are commonly thought of as the messengers of God.
are good spirits, unlike their counterparts the demons.
They are usually portrayed as having a human form, being
dressed in long, white clothes, surrounded by a bright light
and with long, swanlike wings. They were portrayed thus
by artists, often on Church command, to alert the faithful
that angels are more than human.
are cases, however, where angels appeared as ordinary men
and were mistaken as such (the story of Lot,
for instance). In the Old Testament angels play a prominent
role as the messengers from God.
in the Old Testament the leading demon, Satan,
is introduced. However, it was not until the New Testament
that Satan was portrayed as Lucifer,
the first of the fallen
angels to rebel against God.
the New Testament, angels are present at all the important
events in the life of Jesus. Here, they became more than
just messengers; they are portrayed as the agents of God
in bringing judgement to the world.
the New Testament there were only two orders of angles;
the seraphim and cherubim.
commonly used hierarchy of nine orders is that popularized
by the Pseudo-Areopagite of Pseude-Dionysius (early 5th
century) in his De Hierarchia Celesti, which arranges them
in three triads: Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones
(Ophanim) in the first circle; Dominions (Hashmallim),
Virtues (Tarshishim), and Powers in the second
circle; Principalities, Archangels
and Angels in the third circle.
seven holy angels are:
and Gabriel are mentioned in the Bible, Raphael in the Apocrypha
and all appear in Enoch (VIII, 2). A list of fallen angels
is given by Milton in Paradise Lost (Bk. I, 392).
say that angels were created from pure bright gems; the
genii from fire, and man from clay.