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angel precedes the

angel precedes the people of Israel during the pilgrimage in the desert (Exodus 23:23). In any case, however, they are described as concrete individuals, very “human” in the way they themselves manifest and behave with biblical protagonists to whom they have been sent to perform a specific task. We do not want to make a compendium of angelology as it has developed over the centuries, since there is already vast literature on it; we only want to provide the reader with some basic concepts useful to understand the differences between the real literal text and the massive conceptual hoarding that religion has superimposed. The manipulation began in the so-called “post-exile” period, that is after the Jewish people were exiled by Nebuchadnezzar II in the early sixth century BCE, and the subsequent permanence in the territory of Babylon, with the resulting cultural contaminations. We have already said that the names in Greek and Hebrew (àgghelos and malàkh) define the function and not the essence of these figures, and this, in our view, has a very simple and straightforward explanation: the authors of the text did not feel the need to analyze their nature, because it was blatant and obvious to all. These were similar humans, and thus did not require any sort of speculation! We'll go deeper into this by presenting some stories in their literal version. To go back to the little angelology we were doing, the conception of a spiritual world divided into various hierarchies reveals the influence of Mesopotamia and Persia: once in contact with these beliefs, Jewish thought develops its doctrine, using a symbolism that was alien to its original culture, used to systematize its own representation of the angelic world. Also later commentators, and then the whole Christian tradition, had the need to make these figures coherent with the vision of a spiritual and transcendent monotheistic God. Thus, interpreters and exegetes, theologians and church fathers believed they could not prevent providing a description of these figures. Therefore, they said and wrote about them as spiritual beings with no material body, who take visible appearance only when needed, that they only apparently eat or walk but never for real, who are only employed as 74

intermediaries, if necessary, by gods for punishment or help. The descriptions provided by the Bible led, anyway, to the need to assign a certain corporeity, and thus they have also been described as having a sort of “ethereal, airy, fiery body”. There was then a plethora of hypotheses which the Church decided to stop in the fourth Lateran Council (1215), by establishing, once and for all, the spiritual essence of these beings. They were divided into nine choirs (cherubim, seraphim, thrones, virtues, powers, dominions, principalities, archangels and angels), and distributed into three hierarchies. But then we wonder: Does all this match up with the figures of the “Elohìm's Messengers” described in the Old Testament? Are we sure that this view corresponds to what the texts tell about the events that occurred to the “Adàms” in those historical periods when they were still in close contact with “god” and his angels? True to our commitment, we are now going to read what those texts tell about ancient times. We will literally present, those texts here, prior to any manipulation or post-exile influence. Zechariah and the malakhìm In our exemplification of how “angels” are truly represented in the Old Testament, we now quote a very curious brief excerpt from the book of the prophet Zechariah, which we will later examine more extensively in order to observe some absolutely interesting “visions” which are rarely – indeed, almost never – surveyed. In the first chapter of this ambiguous book, the prophet tells of his “vision” during which he listens to a dialogue between a man in a deep ravine, on a bay horse, amid some myrtles, and others standing behind him, also amidst the myrtles. A first curiosity is found in verse 1.10 isc: this character is described as a “man” (jSA), therefore an individual of flesh and bones, but in the following verse, when the other men talk to him, he is referred to as “angel”: 75

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