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''.   
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[[Image:Synaxis of the Holy Angels.JPG|right|frame|[[Synaxis]] of the Holy Angels]]
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[[Image:Synaxis of the Bodiless Powers - Nine Orders.jpeg|right|thumb|[[Synaxis]] of the Bodiless Powers]]
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The word '''angel''' means "messenger" and this word expresses the nature of angelic service to the human race.  Angels are also referred to as "bodiless Powers of Heaven".  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:
 
  
*'''Space:'''
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The idea of there being ten initial Angelic hosts is taken from Judaism, this number possessing a very deep significance in Jewish mysticism, being the numeric value of the first letter of the [[Tetragrammaton]], and symbolizing the [[Decalogue]] given to [[Moses]] on [[Mount Sinai]] and the ten plagues against the Egyptians, by which the Chosen People were delivered from captivity. There are several different listings of these ten Angelic ranks, which inevitably overlap to a certain degree; but whereas Judaism lost its ancient belief in the fall of Angels (witnessed, for instance, by the [[Book of Enoch]]), Christianity on the other hand preserved it, hence its teaching about the nine (remaining) Angelic orders, whose number shall be completed by the souls of those [[Soteriology|redeemed]] through the blood of the [[Jesus Christ|Lamb]].
**''Length''
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**''Breadth'' or ''Width''
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**''Height'' or ''Depth''
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*'''Time:'''
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**''Past''
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**''Present''
+
**''Future''
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*'''Matter:'''
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**''Solids''
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**''Liquids''
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**''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]]:
 +
 
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:''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}}
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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 ==
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[http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1521&letter=A#4364 Jewish Encyclopedia]
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Orthodox Life, Vol. 27, No. 6 (Nov.-Dec., 1977), pp. 39-47.
 
Orthodox Life, Vol. 27, No. 6 (Nov.-Dec., 1977), pp. 39-47.
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*{{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 ==
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==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]
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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.sfaturiortodoxe.ro/orthodox/orthodox_advices_angels.htm The Holy Angels]
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*[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.ii.iii.html "Concerning angels" (Book 2 Chapter 3) in St John of Damascus' ''An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith'']
  
[http://www.esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeII/CelestialHierarchy.html ''The Celestial Hierarchy'' by St. Dionysius the Areopagite]
 
 
[http://www.zeitun-eg.net/members_contrib/PopeShenoudaIII_TheANGELS.pdf ''The Angels'' by H.H. Pope Shenouda III (Format: PDF)]
 
  
 
{{Angels}}
 
{{Angels}}
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[[el:Άγγελοι]]
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[[fr:Ange]]
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[[ro:Îngeri]]

Revision as of 16:52, January 9, 2011

Synaxis of the Holy Angels
Synaxis of the Bodiless Powers

The word angel means "messenger" and this word expresses the nature of angelic service to the human race. Angels are also referred to as "bodiless Powers of Heaven". 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 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:



The idea of there being ten initial Angelic hosts is taken from Judaism, this number possessing a very deep significance in Jewish mysticism, being the numeric value of the first letter of the Tetragrammaton, and symbolizing the Decalogue given to Moses on Mount Sinai and the ten plagues against the Egyptians, by which the Chosen People were delivered from captivity. There are several different listings of these ten Angelic ranks, which inevitably overlap to a certain degree; but whereas Judaism lost its ancient belief in the fall of Angels (witnessed, for instance, by the Book of Enoch), Christianity on the other hand preserved it, hence its teaching about the nine (remaining) Angelic orders, whose number shall be completed by the souls of those redeemed through the blood of the Lamb.

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

Jewish Encyclopedia

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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