Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/540

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ANGEL ANGEL Is it possible that some angel of specially high rank is intended, as in Is., Ixiii, 9 (cf. Tobias, xii, 15)? May not this be what is meant by "the angel of God" (cf. Num. xx, 16)? That a process of evolution in theological thought accompanied the gradual unfolding of God's revela- tion need hardly be said, but it is especially marked in the various views entertained regarding the per- son of the Giver of the Law. The Massoretic text as well as the ^'ulgate of Exod., iii and xix-xx clearly represent the Supreme Being as appearing to Moses in the bush and on Mount Sinai; but the Septuagint version, while agreeing that it was God Himself who gave the Law, yet makes it "the angel of the Lord" who appeared in the bush. By New Testament times the Septuagint view has prevailed, and it is now not merely in the bush that the angel of the Lord, and not God Himself, appears, but the angel is also the Giver of the Law (cf. Gal., iii, 19; Heb.,ii,2; Acts, vii, 30). The person of "the angel of the Lord" finds a counterpart in the personifica- tion of Wisdom in the Sapiential books and in at least one passage (Zach., iii, 1) it seems to stand for that "Son of Man" whom Daniel (vii, 13) saw brought before "the Ancient of Days". Zacharias says: "And the Lord showed me Jesus the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan stood on His right hand to be His adversary". Tertullian regards many of these passages as preludes to the Incarnation; as the Word of God adumbrating the sublime character in which He is one day to reveal Hiniself to men (cf. adv. Prax., xvi; adv. Marc, II, 27; III, 9; I, 10, 21, 22). It is possible, then, that in these confused views we can trace vague gropings after certain dogmatic truths regard- ing the Trinity, reminiscences perhaps of the early revelation of which the Protevangelium in Gen., iii, is but a relic. The earlier Fatliers, going by the letter of the text, maintained that it was actually God Himself who appeared. He who appeared was called God and acted as God. It was not unnatural then for Tertullian, as we have already seen, to regard such manifestations in the light of preludes to the Incarnation, and most of the Eastern Fathers fol- lowed the same line of thought. It was held as recently as 1S51 by Vandenbrceck, " Dissertatio The- ologica de Theophaniis sub Veteri Testamento " (Louvain). But the great Latins, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory the Great, held the opposite view, and the Scholastics as a body followed them. St. Au- gustine (Sermo vii, de Scripturis, P. G., V) when treating of the burning bash (Exod., iii) says: "That the same person who spoke to Moses should be deemed both the Lord and an angel of the Lord, is very hard to understand. It is a question which forbids any rash assertions but rather demands care- ful investigation. . . . Some maintain that he Ls called both the Lord and the angel of the Lord be- cause he was Christ, indeed the prophet (Is., ix, 6, Septuagint Ver.) clearly styles Christ the 'Angel of great Counsel.' " The saint proceeds to show that sucli a view is tenable (hough we must be careful not to fall into Arianism in stating it. He points out, however, that if we hold that it was an angel who appeared, we must explain how he came to be called "tlie Lord," and he proceeds to show how this might be: "Elsewhere in the Bible when a prophet speaks it is yet said to be the Lord who speaks, not of course because the prophet is the Lord but because the Ix)rd is in the prophet; and so in the same way when the Lord condescends to speak throigh the mouth of a prophet or an angel, it is the same as when he speaks by a prophet or apostle, and the angel is correctly termed an angel if we consider him him- self, but cfiually correctly is he termed 'the Lord' because God dwells in him." He concludes: "It is ttie name of the indweller, not of the temple." And a little further on: "It seems to me that we shaU most correctly say that our forefathers recog- nized the Lord in the angel," and he adduces the authority of the New Testament writers who clearly so understood it and yet sometimes allowed the same confusion of terms (cf. Heb., ii, 2, and Acts, vii, 31-33). The saint discusses the same question even more elaborately, " In Heptateuchum," lib. vii, 54, P. G., Ill, 558. As an instance of how convinced some of the Fathers were in holding the opposite view, we may note Theodoret's words (In Exod.): "The whole passage (Exod., iii) shows that it was God who appeared to him. But (Moses) called Him an angel in order to let us know that it was not God the Father whom he saw — for whose angel could the Father be? — but the Only-begotten Son, the Angel of great Counsel" (cf. Eusebius, Hist. Eccles., I, ii, 7; St. Irenaeus, Hrer., iii, 6). But the view propounded by the Latin Fathers was destined to lie in the Church, and the Scholastics reduced it to a system (cf. St. Thomas, Quaist., Disp., De Potentia, vi, 8, ad S"""); and for a very good exposition of both sides of the question, cf. '^ Revue biblique," 1S94, 232-247. Angels in Babyloxian Literature. — The Bible has shown us that a belief in angels, or spirits inter- mediate between God and man, is a characteristic of the Semitic peoples. It is therefore interesting to trace this belief in the Semites of Babj-lonia. Ac- cording to Sayce (The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, Gifford Lectures, 1901), the en- grafting of Semitic beliefs on the earliest Suraerian religion of Babylonia is marked by the entrance of angels or sukallin into their theosophy. Thus we find an interesting parallel to "the angel of the Lord" in Nebo, "the minister of Merodach" (ibid., 355). He is also termed the "angel" or interpreter of the will of Merodach (ibid., 456), and Sayce ac- cepts Hommel's statement that it can be shown from the Minean inscriptions that primitive Semitic religion consisted of moon and star worship, the moon-god Athtar and an "angel" god standing at the head of the pantheon (ibid., 315). The Biblical conflict between the kingdoms of good and evil finds its parallel in the "spirits of heaven" or the Igigi — who constituted the "host" of which Ninip was the champion (and from whom he received the title of "chief of the angels") and the "spirits of the earth", or Annuna-Ivi, w-ho dwelt in Hades (ibid., 355). The Babylonian sukalli corresponded to the spirit-messengers of the Bible; they declared their Lord's will and executed his behests (ibid., 361). Some of them appear to have been more than messen- gers; they were the interpreters and vicegerents of the supreme deity, thus Nebo is "the prophet of Borsippa". These angels are even termed "the sons" of the deity whose vicegerents they are; thus Ninip, at one time the messenger of En-lil, is trans- formed into his son just as Jlerodach becomes the son of Ea (ibid., 496). The Babylonian accounts of the Creation and the Flood do not contrast very favourably with the Biblical accounts, and the same must be said of the chaotic hierarchies of gods and angels which modern research has revealed. Perhaps we are justified in seeing in all forms of religion vestiges of a primitive nature-worship which has at times succeeded in debasing the purer revelation, and which, where that primitive revelation has not re- ceived successi'e increments as among the Hebrews, results in an abundant crop of weeds. Thus the Bible certainly sanctions the idea of certain angels being in charge of sjxjcial districts (cf. Dan., X, and above). This belief persists in a debased form in the Arab notion of Genii, or Jinns, who haunt particular spots. A reference to it is perhaps to be fovind in Gen., xxxii, 1, 2: "Jacob also went on the journey he had begun: and the angels