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John A. McGuckin

Subject Religion

Key-Topics apocalypse, liturgy, revelation

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405185394.2011.x


Angel is the Greek biblical term for “messenger” of God ( angelos ) and in most of the many scriptural references to the angels (Gen. 16.7, 32.1; Judg. 6.11; Dan. 7.10) they appear as heavenly beings, sometimes radiant in light and power, but on earth usually in human form (called “Sons of Men” or “Sons of God”), made present as intermediaries who serve God's will by mediating with humankind. In the biblical texts the angels are especially the deliverers of revelation and, as such, play a large role in the New Testament stories of the annunciation, the nativity, and the resurrection (Mt. 28.2-7; Jn. 20.12). The late inter-testamental (especially the Apocalyptic) texts saw the angels chiefly in the court of God, attending on the divine will for earth and supervising human affairs as his ministers of providential care. This influenced the thinking of the early Christian literature (especially the Book of Revelation and the Letter to the Hebrews) and this aspect of angelic attendance at the divine court developed among the earliest churches into a vision of the angelic host as the preeminent singers of God's glory, the liturgical choir of divine praise, which was also thought to be specially attracted to the church Eucharistic liturgies, so as to join in with them. Jesus referred to angels on several occasions, teaching that they always enjoyed the presence and vision of the Father ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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