the Ascension of Isaiah supply much information on this subject.
In the New Testament angels appear frequently as the ministers of God and the agents of revelation; and Our Lord speaks of angels as fulfilling such functions, implying in one saying that they neither marry nor are given in marriage. Naturally angels are most prominent in the Apocalypse. The New Testament takes little interest in the idea of the angelic hierarchy, but there are traces of the doctrine. The distinction of good and bad angels is recognized; we have names, Gabriel, and the evil angels Abaddon or Apollyon, Beelzebub, and Satan; ranks are implied, archangels, principalities and powers, thrones and dominions. Angels occur in groups of four or seven. In Rev. i.-iii. we meet with the “Angels” of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. These are probably guardian angels, standing to the churches in the same relation that the “princes” in Daniel stand to the nations; practically the “angels” are personifications of the churches. A less likely view is that the “angels” are the human representatives of the churches, the bishops or chief presbyters. There seems, however, no parallel to such a use of “angel,” and it is doubtful whether the monarchical government of churches was fully developed when the Apocalypse was written.
Later Jewish and Christian speculation followed on the lines of the angelology of the earlier apocalypses; and angels play an important part in Gnostic systems and in the Jewish Midrashim and the Kabbala. Religious thought about the angels during the middle ages was much influenced by the theory of the angelic hierarchy set forth in the De Hierarchia Celesti, written in the 5th century in the name of Dionysius the Areopagite and passing for his. The creeds and confessions do not formulate any authoritative doctrine of angels; and modern rationalism has tended to deny the existence of such beings, or to regard the subject as one on which we can have no certain knowledge. The principle of continuity, however, seems to require the existence of beings intermediate between man and God.
The Old Testament says nothing about the origin of angels; but the Book of Jubilees and the Slavonic Enoch describe their creation; and, according to Col. i. 16, the angels were created in, unto and through Christ.
Nor does the Bible give any formal account of the nature of angels. It is doubtful how far Ezekiel’s account of the cherubim and Isaiah’s account of the seraphim are to be taken as descriptions of actual beings; they are probably figurative, or else subjective visions. Angels are constantly spoken of as “men,” and, including even the Angel of Yahweh, are spoken of as discharging the various functions of human life; they eat and drink, walk and speak. Putting aside the cherubim and seraphim, they are not spoken of as having wings. On the other hand they appear and vanish, exercise miraculous powers, and fly. Seeing that the anthropomorphic language used of the angels is similar to that used of God, the Scriptures would hardly seem to require a literal interpretation in either case. A special association is found, both in the Bible and elsewhere, between the angels and the heavenly bodies, and the elements or elemental forces, fire, water, &c. The angels are infinitely numerous.
The function of the angels is that of the supernatural servants of God, His agents and representatives; the Angel of Yahweh, as we have seen, is a manifestation of God. In old times, the bnē Elohim and the seraphim are His court, and the angels are alike the court and the army of God; the cherubim are his throne-bearers. In his dealings with men, the angels, as their name implies, are specially His messengers, declaring His will and executing His commissions. Through them he controls nature and man. They are the guardian angels of the nations; and we also find the idea that individuals have guardian angels. Later Jewish tradition held that the Law was given by angels. According to the Gnostic Basilides, the world was created by angels. Mahommedanism has taken over and further elaborated the Jewish and Christian ideas as to angels.
While the scriptural statements imply a belief in the existence of spiritual beings intermediate between God and men, it is probable that many of the details may be regarded merely as symbolic imagery. In Scripture the function of the angel overshadows his personality; the stress is on their ministry; they appear in order to perform specific acts.
ANGEL, a gold coin, first used in France (angelot, ange) in 1340, and introduced into England by Edward IV. in 1465 as a new issue of the “noble,” and so at first called the “angel-noble.” It varied in value between that period and the time of Charles I. (when it was last coined) from 6s. 8d. to 10s. The name was derived from the representation it bore of St Michael and the dragon. The angel was the coin given to those who came to be touched for the disease known as king’s evil; after it was no longer coined, medals, called touch-pieces, with the same device, were given instead.
ANGELICA, a genus of plants of the natural order Umbelliferae, represented in Britain by one species, A. sylvestris, a tall perennial herb with large bipinnate leaves and large compound umbels of white or purple flowers. The name Angelica is popularly given to a plant of an allied genus, Archangelica officinalis, the tender shoots of which are used in making certain kinds of aromatic sweetmeats. Angelica balsam is obtained by extracting the roots with alcohol, evaporating and extracting the residue with ether. It is of a dark brown colour and contains angelica oil, angelica wax and angelicin, C18H30O. The essential oil of the roots of Angelica archangelica contains β-terebangelene, C10H16, and other terpenes; the oil of the seeds also contains β-terebangelene, together with methylethylacetic acid and hydroxymyristic acid.
The angelica tree is a member of the order Avaliaceae, a species of Aralia (A. spinosa), a native of North America; it grows 8 to 12 ft. high, has a simple prickle-bearing stem forming an umbrella-like head, and much divided leaves.
ANGELICO, FRA (1387–1455), Italian painter. Il Beato Fra Giovanni Angelico da Fiesole is the name given to a far-famed painter-friar of the Florentine state in the 15th century, the representative, beyond all other men, of pietistic painting. He is often, but not accurately, termed simply “Fiesole,” which is merely the name of the town where he first took the vows; more often Fra Angelico. If we turn his compound designation into English, it runs thus—“the Beatified Friar John the Angelic of Fiesole.” In his lifetime he was known no doubt simply as Fra Giovanni or Friar John; “The Angelic” is a laudatory term which was assigned to him at an early date,—we find it in use within thirty years after his death; and, at some period which is not defined in our authorities, he was beatified by due ecclesiastical process. His baptismal name was Guido, Giovanni being only his name in religion. He was born at Vicchio, in the Tuscan province of Mugello, of unknown but seemingly well-to-do parentage, in 1387 (not 1390 as sometimes stated); in 1407 he became a novice in the convent of S. Domenico at Fiesole, and in 1408 he took the vows and entered the Dominican order. Whether he had previously been a painter by profession is not certain, but may be pronounced probable. The painter named Lorenzo Monaco may have contributed to his art-training, and the influence of the Sienese school is discernible in his work.
- E.g. Matt. i. 20 (to Joseph), iv. 11 (to Jesus), Luke i. 26 (to Mary), Acts xii. 7 (to Peter).
- E.g. Mark viii. 38, xiii. 27.
- Mark xii. 25.
- Luke i. 19.
- Rev. ix. 11.
- Mark iii. 22.
- Mark i. 13.
- Michael, Jude 9.
- Rom. viii. 38; Col. ii. 10.
- Col. i. 16.
- Rev. vii. 1.
- Gen. xviii. 8.
- Gen. xix. 16.
- Zech. iv. 1.
- Judges vi. 12, 21.
- Rev. vii. 1. viii.
- Rev. viii. 13, xiv. 6.
- Job xxxviii. 7; Asc. of Isaiah, iv. 18; Slav. Enoch, iv. 1.
- Rev. xiv. 18, xvi. 5; possibly Gal. iv. 3; Col. ii. 8, 20.
- Ps. lxviii. 17; Dan. vii. 10.
- Matt. xviii. 10; Acts xii. 15.
- Gal. iii. 19; Heb. ii. 2; LXX. of Deut. xxxiii. 2.