Angels

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The word '''angel''' means "messenger" and this word expresses the nature of angelic service to the human race.  Angels are organized into several orders, or Angelic Choirs. The most influential of these classifications was that put forward by pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (not to be confused with [[Dionysius the Areopagite]], who was baptized by Saint [[Apostle Paul|Paul and lived in the first century, and from whom pseudo-Dionysius took his name) in the fourth or fifth century in his book ''The Celestial Hierarchy''.   
 
The word '''angel''' means "messenger" and this word expresses the nature of angelic service to the human race.  Angels are organized into several orders, or Angelic Choirs. The most influential of these classifications was that put forward by pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (not to be confused with [[Dionysius the Areopagite]], who was baptized by Saint [[Apostle Paul|Paul and lived in the first century, and from whom pseudo-Dionysius took his name) in the fourth or fifth century in his book ''The Celestial Hierarchy''.   
  
In this work, the author drew on passages from the [[New Testament]], specifically [[Epistle to the Ephesians|Ephesians]] 6:12 and [[Epistle to the Colossians|Colossians]] 1:16, to construct a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs. In descending order of power, these were:
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In this work, the author interpolated several ambiguous passages from the [[New Testament]], specifically [[Epistle to the Ephesians|Ephesians]] 6:12 and [[Epistle to the Colossians|Colossians]] 1:16, to construct a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs. In descending order of power, these were:
  
  
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**''[[Angels]]''
 
**''[[Angels]]''
  
Try comparing this model of the Triune God in the Immaterial, Incorporeal and Invisible World with the one existing in our corporeal, material and visible World:  
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Try comparing this model of the [[Holy Trinity|Triune God]] in the Immaterial, Incorporeal and Invisible World with the one existing in our corporeal, material and visible World:  
  
 
*'''Space:'''
 
*'''Space:'''
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**''Gases''
 
**''Gases''
  
However, one should be a bit cautious about taking pseudo-Dionysius' model too concretely, as the gospel truth (to use the expression quite literally). The author himself was a fairly early advocate of [[apophatic theology]], which insists on only describing God in the negative. Still, many have accused the writer of wavering somewhere in between Orthodoxy and Neoplatonism, a pagan Greek philosophical system; such critics say that the three groupings of three in the angelic hierarchy derive from the Neoplatonic tendency to divide beings into triads. Furthermore, the comparison of the celestial with the earthly breaks down if one takes into account modern science, which tells us of a fourth category of matter, plasma, plus the fact that Einstein considered time another, fourth dimension, and modern string theorists (whose scientific validity is still very debatable) propose somewhere between 10 and 26 dimensions in the physical universe. All said and done, this is not to entirely discredit pseudo-Dionysius, who has been much esteemed by numerous [[Church Fathers]] and theologians up to the present day.  
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However, one should be a bit cautious about taking pseudo-Dionysius' model too concretely, as he is the only source we have for such a classification system. The author himself was a fairly early advocate of [[apophatic theology]], which insists on only describing God in the negative. Still, many have accused the writer of wavering somewhere in between Orthodoxy and Neoplatonism, a pagan Greek philosophical system; such critics say that the three groupings of three in the angelic hierarchy derive from [[Neoplatonism]]:
 +
:''The Hellenic concept of the world as "order" and "hierarchy," the strict Platonic division between the "intelligible"
 +
:''and "sensible" worlds, and the Neoplatonic grouping of beings into "triads" reappear in the famous writings of a
 +
:''mysterious early-sixth-century writer who wrote under the pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite.''{{ref|1}}
 +
 
 +
Furthermore, the comparison of the celestial with the earthly breaks down if one takes into account modern science, which tells us of a fourth category of matter and a very debatable number of dimensions (see [[w:String Theory]] if interested). All said and done, this is not to entirely discredit pseudo-Dionysius, who has been much esteemed by numerous [[Church Fathers]] and theologians up to the present day.  
  
 
== Sources ==
 
== Sources ==
 
Orthodox Life, Vol. 27, No. 6 (Nov.-Dec., 1977), pp. 39-47.
 
Orthodox Life, Vol. 27, No. 6 (Nov.-Dec., 1977), pp. 39-47.
 +
*{{note|1}}From ''Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes'' by Fr. [[John Meyendorff]]. New York: Fordham University Press, 1974, p. 27. ISBN 0-8232-0967-9.
  
 
== External Links ==
 
== External Links ==
[http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/angels2.aspx The Church's Teaching Concerning Angels]
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*[http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/angels2.aspx The Church's Teaching Concerning Angels]
 
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*[http://www.esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeII/CelestialHierarchy.html ''The Celestial Hierarchy'' by St. Dionysius the Areopagite]
[http://www.esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeII/CelestialHierarchy.html ''The Celestial Hierarchy'' by St. Dionysius the Areopagite]
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*[http://www.zeitun-eg.net/members_contrib/PopeShenoudaIII_TheANGELS.pdf ''The Angels'' by H.H. Pope Shenouda III (Format: PDF)]
 
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[http://www.zeitun-eg.net/members_contrib/PopeShenoudaIII_TheANGELS.pdf ''The Angels'' by H.H. Pope Shenouda III (Format: PDF)]
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{{Angels}}
 
{{Angels}}

Revision as of 19:11, July 27, 2006

The word angel means "messenger" and this word expresses the nature of angelic service to the human race. Angels are organized into several orders, or Angelic Choirs. The most influential of these classifications was that put forward by pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (not to be confused with Dionysius the Areopagite, who was baptized by Saint [[Apostle Paul|Paul and lived in the first century, and from whom pseudo-Dionysius took his name) in the fourth or fifth century in his book The Celestial Hierarchy.

In this work, the author interpolated several ambiguous passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 6:12 and Colossians 1:16, to construct a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs. In descending order of power, these were:


Try comparing this model of the Triune God in the Immaterial, Incorporeal and Invisible World with the one existing in our corporeal, material and visible World:

  • Space:
    • Length
    • Breadth or Width
    • Height or Depth
  • Time:
    • Past
    • Present
    • Future
  • Matter:
    • Solids
    • Liquids
    • Gases

However, one should be a bit cautious about taking pseudo-Dionysius' model too concretely, as he is the only source we have for such a classification system. The author himself was a fairly early advocate of apophatic theology, which insists on only describing God in the negative. Still, many have accused the writer of wavering somewhere in between Orthodoxy and Neoplatonism, a pagan Greek philosophical system; such critics say that the three groupings of three in the angelic hierarchy derive from Neoplatonism:

The Hellenic concept of the world as "order" and "hierarchy," the strict Platonic division between the "intelligible"
and "sensible" worlds, and the Neoplatonic grouping of beings into "triads" reappear in the famous writings of a
mysterious early-sixth-century writer who wrote under the pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite.1

Furthermore, the comparison of the celestial with the earthly breaks down if one takes into account modern science, which tells us of a fourth category of matter and a very debatable number of dimensions (see w:String Theory if interested). All said and done, this is not to entirely discredit pseudo-Dionysius, who has been much esteemed by numerous Church Fathers and theologians up to the present day.

Sources

Orthodox Life, Vol. 27, No. 6 (Nov.-Dec., 1977), pp. 39-47.

External Links

Angels
First Hierarchy: Seraphim | Cherubim | Thrones
Second Hierarchy: Powers | Dominions | Principalities
Third Hierarchy: Virtues | Archangels | Angels
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