Está en la página 1de 17

ANALISYS OF THE TERM ANGELS OF GOD

IN THE TRILOGY THE PROPHECY

Cristiano Max
Malcon Naor Voltz
Camila Melo Ferrareli

Abstract

Keywords: Angels; Hierarchy; Messenger; God;

INTRODUCTION

It is said that angels have been around since before the creation and accompany human
beings since they are born, protecting and taking their messages to God. For some
Archaeologists, Theologians, Anthropologists, angels presence among humans may be even
earlier than the oldest known culture, thus, it is sought evidences to support this. They are
present in the history and culture of several civilizations, from the Sumerian to the Europeans,
the Aborigines to the Amerindian peoples, the Middle East peoples to those from Asia. They
are used in contradictory ways by humans, they are regarded as images of the spiritual world,
Gods messengers, a connecting link between this world and the divine. To a large extent, the
angels were transformed into emblems of human superficiality, represented by consumerism.
Today there is an increasing interest in angels with several reports of angelic
appearances. They are part of almost every religion and seem to have the same messenger
role. There are playing cards, lamps, candles, pendants, pictures, magazines, websites
teaching ways to communicate with the guardian angels, everything paid, of course. Angels
are explained in books, magazines, websites, radio, television, videos, CDs, lectures, they
are find in movies and they are characters in Marvel and DC Comics comic books as well. It
is clear that in the past angels were also portrayed in different ways and the access to the
knowledge about them was restricted to a special order of people who held the religious
power. Nowadays, it is possible that an ordinary person talk about angels with more basement
than one of the 15th Century, but the mix that is made with the subject is impressive.
Being that said, this article seeks to analyze the angels presented in the trilogy The
Prophecy taking in account the biblical angelology perspective, especially the Old Testament
and seeks to answer who the angels are, what is their origin, their hierarchy in this world of
2

thought, how the angels image of white clothes and wings and a halo above their heads came
to be. Thus, we want to get to the Hebrew text from the meaning of the English word angel
as well as Latin, German, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. We want to discuss the presence of
the archangels, cherubs, seraphs and angels in the angelic rank and try to make an analysis of
the understanding of the expression angelic hierarchy which was developed over the end of
the Old Testament period.
From the biblical-theological-historical-sociological reflection, this article wants to
help people to discover a more critical sense about angelology and their use in the film
industry. Therefore, it is expected that people do not just walk in the wave of the popular
belief, but that reflect and draw their own conclusions and sought to approximate the
development of the concept of angels to the varied figures of flying beings, winged men and
women or bird men and women, which appear in many different history and cultures of the
planet. For some Archaeologists, Theologians, Anthropologists, the concept itself may be
related to dreams in which the human being has the feeling of flying, a capability that has
fascinated mankind for a long time.

The Prophecy

Im an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even,
when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls. From now til Kingdom Come, the
only thing you can count on in your entire existence...is never understanding why.
(Gabriel, to Catherine Henley, in the first film).

Released in 1995, The Prophecy is the debut of Gregory Widen, one of the writers of
Highlander, who also wrote the screenplay. Bold, the director/writer approaches the angels
subject with a much heavier and more realistic approach than is usually practiced in
Hollywood, where mythological beings are almost always portrayed as good and without
malice1. Anticipating a trend that has crystallized in the comic books of the Irish writer Garth
Ennis, writer of, among others, John Constantine, Hellblazer and creator of the unmoral
Preacher, Widen brings the concept of the angels as a militia of God, who do the dirty work
with the men and against the armies of Satan, without modesty to kill and act with
refinements of cruelty and impiety, in His name.

1
Uma das poucas excees no cinema so os filmes Michael, com John Travolta e Dogma de Kevin Smith.
3

The plot starts with Thomas Dagget2, a Catholic seminary student who on the day of
his ordination as a priest receives terrifying visions of impaled and fallen angels, shaking his
faith and making him leave the priesthood. Years later, while Thomas is a detective with the
LAPD, two angels fall to Earth: one, Simon, enters Thomas home and warns him about the
coming events before disappearing; the second, Usiel, one of Archangel Gabriels3 lieutenant,
is killed in a fight with Simon 4. Investigating this, Thomas finds in Simons apartment the
obituary of a recently deceased Korean War veteran named Colonel Arnold Hawthorne 5 and
the Theology thesis about angels which Thomas wrote in the Seminary. Meanwhile, in
Chimney Rock, Arizona, Simon finds the dead veteran awaiting burial and sucks the evil soul
out of the corpse.
The medical examiner informs Thomas that the strangers body (Usiel) is like nothing
he has seen before, because it has no eyes, no signs of bone growth, it has hermaphroditism
and the same blood chemistry as an aborted fetus. Among the personal effects found on the
body is an ancient, hand-written Bible, which includes an extra chapter of the Book of
Revelation that describes a second war in heaven and a prophecy that a dark soul will be
found on Earth and used as a weapon, and this war provoked a split between the angels and
lasted for millennia, closing Heaven to humans. The movie has many funny dialogues, like
this one between the medical examiner and Thomas:

Joseph: He's also a hermaphrodite. [lifts the sheet covering the corpse so Thomas
can see] He's got both male and female sex organs.
Thomas: Think of the possibilities!
Joseph: Yeah, you can be impotent and frigid all at the same time.

Meanwhile and unknown to Thomas, Gabriel comes down to Earth to fulfill his
desires. Needing a human helper, Gabriel catches Jerry6, a suicide, in the moment of his death,
when he wanted to hang himself and keeps him in a state of limbo. Unhappily dominated by
Gabriel, Jerry retrieves Usiels belongings from the police station while Gabriel destroys
Usiels body in the morgue. After finding Hawthornes obituary, Gabriel and Jerry head for
Chimney Rock. Before Gabriel arrives in Chimney Rock, at the local reservation school,

2
Elias Koteas, ator de forte presena no cinema de arte e independente, com os diretores David Cronenberg e
Atom Egoyan.
3
Christopher Walken.
4
Eric Stoltz.
5
Jeffrey Tambor.
6
Adam Goldberg.
4

Simon hides Hawthornes soul in a little Native American girl, Mary7, who immediately falls
ill and is taken care of by her teacher, Katherine.
Through a newspaper clipping, Thomas realizes that the black soul mentioned in the
Bible belongs to Colonel Hawthorne and goes to Chimney Rock to find out what is
happening, receiving Katherines help. But Gabriel also knows about the soul and is in pursuit
of the girl and her protectors who rely on Lucifers 8 reluctant help to defeat Gabriel, even if
by his own motivation. Gabriel confronts Simon and says that Hawthornes soul will tip the
balance to whichever side possesses it. If the rebellious angels win, Heaven will become like
Hell with Earth in the middle. Simon refuses to reveal its location and Gabriel kills him,
ripping out his heart. The dialogue between Simon and Gabriel show how old they are and
their involvement in the war:

Simon: I'm so tired of this war.


Gabriel: Reject the lie Simon. Join us! Help us make it like it was before the
monkeys. You remember? We cast out Lucifer's army, you and I. We threw their
rebel thrones from the wall.
Simon: They wanted to be gods.
Gabriel: I don't wanna be a god, Simon. I just wanna make it like it was, before the
lie. When He loved us best.

Meanwhile, Mary shows signs of possession by the evil soul, by telling an incident
from Hawthornes war experiences in first-person perspective. Thomas examines Simons
remains and questions Katherine about all the situation. In Hawthornes house, he finds
evidence of war crimes practiced by Hawthorne, like the one in which Hawthorne practiced
human sacrifice and cannibalism during the Korean War. Being too much for him, Thomas
goes out to find a church and to reflect about all his discovers and in there, a supposable place
of peace and comfort, Gabriel appears to him and he is shaken by a verbal confrontation with
Gabriel. Now he is beginning to understand even more the nature of the jealous angels who
hate humans because God loves them most.
After this, at school, Katherine finds Gabriel questioning the children and after he
leaves, she rushes to Marys home and finds Thomas there. As Marys condition worsens,
Katherine takes Thomas to an abandoned mine where she had seen Gabriel. Inside, they find
angelic script and experience together a terrible vision of the angelic war, in which they
witness macabre visions of dozens of dying angels impaled on thick stakes. They rush back to
Marys home only to find Gabriel and Jerry there. Thomas kills Jerry, who thanks him for the
7
Moriah Shinning Dove Snyder.
8
Viggo Mortensen.
5

release. Katherine stops Gabriel temporarily when her wild gunshot misses him and blows up
Marys trailer home. The three protagonists flee to a Native American site where Mary can be
exorcised. In a hospital ICU ward, Gabriel recruits a new unwilling assistant, Rachael 9, just as
she dies of a terminal illness. He needs her because he doesnt know how to drive.

Gabriel: Eternity here in that sagging skin suit, or one more day with me.
Rachael: [miserably] Why?
Gabriel: Can't drive. But I can wait. Until stars burn out if you don't make up your
mind.

That night, Lucifer appears and confronts Katherine and tells her that other angels
have taken up this war against mankind, and since then, no human soul have been able to
enter Heaven. He knows of Gabriels plan to use Hawthornes soul to overthrow the obedient
angels. He also knows that if Gabriel wins the war, Heaven will ultimately devolve into
another Hell under his influence, which Lucifer considers one Hell too many. The next day,
Lucifer appears too Thomas and advises him to use Gabriels lack of faith against him.
Gabriel arrives and attempts to disrupt the exorcism ritual. Thomas kills Rachel and he and
Katherine fight Gabriel. Here we have two other interesting dialogues:

Catherine: Go to hell!
Gabriel: Heaven, darling. Heaven. At least get the zip code right.
Catherine: It's all the same to you, isn't it?
Gabriel: No. In heaven, we believe in love.
Catherine: What do you love, Gabriel?
Gabriel: Cracking your skull.

Lucifer: Hello, Catherine. We must talk.


Catherine: [overwhelmed] No... I can't...
Lucifer: I can lay you out and fill your mouth with your mother's feces... or we can
talk.

Lucifer: Think, Thomas. What is the one thing essential to an angel, the thing that
holds his entire being together?
Thomas Daggett: Faith.
Lucifer: And what would happen if that faith was tested, and an angel, like you, just
didn't understand? Use that. Use it!

Lucifer appears first encouraging the tribe to complete the exorcism. Then he
confronts Gabriel telling him that his war is based upon arrogance, which is evil, making it
Lucifers territory. Gabriel taunts Lucifer about his past when he fell from grace; Lucifer tells
Gabriel he needs to go home and rips out his heart. Simultaneously Mary expels out
Hawthornes soul from Maria, a rancid cloud of evil. The enemy ghost starts to attack the

9
Amanda Plummer.
6

people but a bright light from Heaven immediately destroys it. With the threat to his evil
kingdom eliminated, Lucifer tells Thomas and Katherine to come home with him. They
staunchly refuse. I have my soul and my faith. What do you have, angel? To which Lucifer
answers: Leave the light on, Thomas. In the end, Lucifers slave drags Gabriel to hell and
Lucifer walks away and disappears in a cloud of crows. As morning comes, Thomas
comments on the nature of faith and what it means to truly be human.

Colocar dilogos
Origin of the term angel

The word angel comes from the Greek angelos, which in turn is a translation of the
Hebrew , meaning messenger. Although the winged figures emerge almost everywhere
in the world, it is believed that the angel itself has arisen in the Middle East, probably in
Sumeria, which would not be surprise, since other biblical narratives are rooted in the same
civilization. Some scholars believe that the early work of art showing winged beings come
from Sumeria because it owned a complex religion, full of gods and spirits, and what is
conventionally called as messengers of the gods, beings who traveled between the gods and
the humans. Similarly, it is said that the Sumerians believed that each person had a kind of
ghost that nowadays is associate with guardian angels, a constant companion of individuals
throughout their lives.
When the Semitic peoples conquered Sumeria, around 1900 B.C., they took the
concepts regarding the angels, likewise divided them into groups, assimilating them to the
different Semitic gods and established hierarchies. Later, these hierarchies have been
improved in the monotheistic Zoroastrianism and Judaism, in addition to what is believed to
be a relationship between the Sumerian and Egyptian Theology. Some scientists have
suggested that the notion of the existence of angels has not developed in Sumeria by chance,
that is, it has an earlier origin, which might be called shamanic period. One example of this
culture can be found at Catal Huyuk, in the region of Anatolia, Turkey. In the archaeological
site were found twelve overlapping cities, the oldest dating from the year 9000 B.C. There is
evidence that there was realized a kind of worship involving birds and, later, the figure of a
god-vulture, responsible for removing the souls of the dead. In one of the murals found, there
is the figure of a human dressed with feathers of a vulture.
7

The abilities of the Sumerian winged beings, like being able to fly to places that
ordinary people cannot reach and serve as intermediaries between the human world and
higher worlds are also considered as attributes of shamans in many different cultures.
Archaeologists and anthropologists are careful in attempting to establish this shamanic
connection, but it is also cited another discovery that may be related, made in Kurdistan, in
the 1950s, in a cave used for burials by people known as Zawichami around the year 8870
B.C. At this location, the archaeologists and anthropologists Rose and Ralph Solecki found
bones of large predatory birds, including various kinds of vultures and eagles. In 1977, Rose
Solecki published an article in which she establishes a connection between the shamanism
from Kurdistan and the one from Catal Huyuk.
The Kurdish scholar Mehrdad Izady is one of those who believes that the shamanic
cult related to the predatory birds influenced the development on the concept of angels. The
Kurdistan region originated three services to the angels, the most famous of them is the one
from Yezidis, Iraq, centered on the figure of a supreme angelic entity called Melek Taus, the
angel-peacock. This angel is often shown in the form of a strange bird known as sanjag.
According to Izady, the oldest sanjaqs were peacocks, but they were predatory birds similar to
those worshiped by the shamanic people zawi chami.
According to archaeologists, the relationship between Sumeria and Egypt may not
have been only of artifacts, but also of ideas, concepts and iconography. The early Sumerian
culture coincides with the first Egyptian dynasties. Nevertheless, one cannot define whether
the winged beings went to Egypt from the Sumerian or whether it was the other way around,
or if the concept has evolved separately in the two cultures.
In any case, possible antecedents of the angels were also present in the representation
of the Egyptian gods. Horus, for example, was represented as a falcon, Thoth was represented
as a man with head of ibis. Isis and Maat were also represented with wings. In earlier
Egyptian texts it is possible to identify at least 1200 deities, many of them close to the idea
that one has of the angels. In addition, they managed to identify a cult dedicated to evoke the
help of the Hunmanit, a group of entities related to the sun and represented as rays of
sunshine, as well as subsequently happened with the Christian representation of the angelic
choir of Seraphs. They had the responsibility of taking care of both the sun as of humankind,
and some scholars believe that it is possible to understand these entities as early versions of
the guardian angels.
8

If so far the references may seem vague to some people, there may be no doubt that
the history of the angels and humans begin to emerge more clearly with the emergence of
Zoroastrianism, which would definitely influence the Jewish and Christian religions. It is with
Zoroastrianism that the dualistic nature of religion is presented more clearly, with Good and
Evil, clearly defined in the figures of Ahura-Mazda, Ormuzd, Angra Mainyu or Ahriman. The
religion was developed by Zarathustra, or Zoroaster, who lived at some time between the 12th
and 6th centuries B.C., and the basic idea is that the two were constantly fighting
commanding his armies.
The evil only becomes real when the world takes care of material things, so that
human beings are at the forefront of the conflict. On Ahura Mazda side, there are his helpers
called Amesa Spentas, which help the humans making the link with god, for they are
responsible for leading the prayers and bringing the blessings and strength to humankind. On
Evils side, there are the daivas, or devas and the khrafstras.
Some historians believe that Zoroastrianism may have influenced Judaism because
they claim that Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, lived in the city of Ur in Mesopotamia
around 2000 or 1800 B.C., a time when the religion prevailed in the region. However, many
historians believe that Zarathustra emerged way after that time, around 650 B.C., and that the
influence would have another source: it occurred when Cyrus (560-530 B.C.) built the empire
that would become one of the largest in History. When he conquered Babylon, Cyrus set free
the Jews who were in captivity and they may have received some Persian concepts, among
them the existence of the angels.
In this way, the monotheistic Judaism would have united the concepts of
Zoroastrianism with some of their own from the religions earliest days, especially in regard
to the existence of numerous spirits, such as wind and fire, which some historians believe to
have been the basis for the emergence of Cherubs and Seraphs. Subsequently, the angels
became more and more the messengers of God and many more appeared in the Jewish texts.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Kabbalists, especially the medieval ones,
invented new angels and adjusted them to the complicated cosmic existence network.
As in its essence, Christianity owes a lot to Judaism and Zoroastrianism. The concept
of angels is also derived from here, although some scholars add that Christians have
developed their own ideas about angels. Just like they have been mentioned in the Old
Testament, they also appear in the New Testament, in which the angels are presented in seven
9

different groups: Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions and Thrones,
besides the already mentioned Cherubs and Seraphs, forming nine choirs of angels which
refer to the Christian theology. Christianity also began to consider the existence of guardian
angels, a concept that might also have their origin in Zoroastrianism and Judaism, in Greece
or Egypt, which was assimilated by Christianity.
In Islam, the presence of the angels is also important because it was the archangel
Gabriel (Djibril) itself who was revealed to Muhammad in a cave, handing him a scroll that
became the sacred text of Islam, the Koran, or Quran (of curan, read or read aloud). In
Islam, the angels are called malaika, also with the meaning of messengers, with the main
function to carry messages to Allah. They also have a mission to protect and do battle against
evil.
Its not difficult to perceive that the history of the angels is much more extensive and
complex than one might imagine. According to Christianity, especially Catholicism, God
created the angels because humans could not come into direct contact with Him. We are
talking about something that cannot be confronted by simple matter, so humans need these
intermediaries. The approaches not religious, esoteric or mystical, understand that contact the
angels is to contact what is most pure and correct within oneself. In this contact, one find
strength and guidance for the good that, so far, was hidden or inaccessible, either for any
reason whatsoever.
It is taught that every human being has a guardian angel and this angel is always
protecting and taking their messages to God. As already mentioned, from day to day it is
heard about angels in books, magazines, novels, movies, Internet. Who has not heard of or
used expressions such as my little angel, my angel, my guardian angel, angel of
death, angel of light, angel of darkness, cupid angel, good angel, bad angel, night
angels, warrior angel, angel of the Lord, protector angel, holy angel, angel of good
news, revenge angel, avenging angel, seductive angel, etc.? There are various ways
used to refer to angels.
For some researchers, the presence of the angels among humans is older than the
oldest known cultures. The history of the angels runs parallel to human beings history,
equally full of contradictions, because their history begins when begins the one of the human
being.
10

When analyzed deeply, it is noted that the existence of angels, its importance and roles
within the relationship of humans with the divine, are elements that always bothered religions
and cultures since ancient times. In all of them, the angels were seen as real beings and with
established responsibilities, were respected and feared. Today, when there is a tendency for
the recovery of materials and scientific assets, the angels are considered as a belief of
simpleminded people or then of old-fashioned religious background.
We can find examples of these beliefs in songs, books, movies, tales. For instance, the
band Van der Graaf Generator has an album called Pawn Hearts, from 1971, wherein the
vocalist Peter Hammill sings: Angels live inside of me, I can feel them smile. Their presence
calms and soothes the storm in my mind, and their love can heal all wounds I have created.
They take care of me while I fall. I know I will be sustained, while the angels live. Another
example is from the Brazilian rock group Legio Urbana, which has a song called Monte
Castelo, with melody and lyrics by the vocalist and leader, Renato Russo, that is an adaptation
of the biblical passage of 1st Corinthians 13th and of the Sonnet 11, of Lus de Cames:
Though I speak the language of men and speak the language of angels, without love, I am
nothing .... These are two examples of the hundreds or thousands of existing conceptions
about the angels.
One of these conceptions seeks to approximate the development of the concept of the
angels to the several figures of flying-men or men-birds that arose and continue to arise in
different cultures of the world: from the Middle East to North America, from Brazil to
Europe, from the ancient Sumeria to the ancient Egypt, from Babylon to Greece and then
Rome, from the West to the East, among many indigenous tribes around the world, from the
Meso-American cultures to the Nordic and Germanic peoples even to the peoples of the
Balkans.
For some researchers, the concept itself might be related to the desire that humans
have to fly, a capability that has fascinated mankind since always, as in the example of Icarus
and Daedalus, from the Greek Mythology.
Most people have seen pictures of angels who seem to be like very beautiful human
beings, with pale skin, white wings, bright halos and flowing white robes, the classical
representation of the angels. The halos are circles of light surrounding their heads, frequently
shown in paintings and in engravings made in the Middle Ages. When we read about angels,
11

they are often described in the same way and sometimes are known to appear as dazzling
white light, almost blinding.
How artists and ancient scribes came to the conclusion that angels have wings and
halos and wear white clothes? The books of the Old Testament do not describe the angels in
this way, at least, most part of them. Generally they are described as ordinary human beings
dressed in white goat fur, because white skins symbolize purity, light and holiness.
How artists and ancient scribes came to the conclusion that angels have wings and
halos and wear white clothes? The books of the Old Testament do not describe the angels in
this way, at least, most part of them. Generally they are described as ordinary human beings
dressed in white goat fur, because white skins symbolize purity, light and holiness.
Wings and halos appeared in Christian art around the time of the Roman Emperor
Constantine. Around the year 312 A.D., after seeing a cross in the sky before an important
battle, he converted himself from the Roman paganism to Christianity. Before that, the Greek
pantheon included winged gods as Hermes and Eros, as well having other functions they
carried messages between the Olympian gods and the minor gods on Earth. The word angel
comes from the Greek term angelos, which means messenger. As they act as messengers of
God, the angels are seen as winged, as well as the Greek gods Hermes and Eros, or the Roman
equivalent, Mercury. The wings symbolize how quickly the angels travel, carrying Gods
messages. The halo, aureole or aura of white light symbolizes its origin or home, i.e., the sky.
The ancient cultures of Egypt, Babylon, Persia and India recognized winged beings
often called gods. It is likely that these traditions have influenced the Greeks and the
Romans who began to paint angels wings in the West. The sutras, which are a type of book
with philosophical content, common to Eastern cultures and are part of the yoga meditation of
the Indian master Patanjali, more or less contemporary of Plato, reveal how a person could
make contact with the celestial beings meditating on the light inside the head. These beings
of light make the connection between the human and the divine realms.
A particularly significant development in the angels history came from Persia, where
Zoroaster described them in great detail in his Avesta, name of the oldest Zoroastrian
scriptures. The basis of the Avesta is a collection of hymns, or gathas, which speak of the
creator god Ahura, his encounters with the guardian angels, each of which is designated as
guide, protector and companion of one person over of his life. Zoroaster said that angels are
extensions and projections of God towards humanity, not independent beings placed between
12

God and humanity. God is portrayed by Zoroaster as presiding over a court of angels, human
figures larger than normal, male and female, reflecting the radiance of God. There is a biblical
parallel in Job 2:1-7, where a celestial council meets to ramble on about humans. Zoroaster,
also known as Zarathustra, was a messenger or demonstrator of God who was born in ancient
Persia, now called Iran. Some researchers say that it was about a thousand years before Christ,
others say that it was around 628-551 B.C. He was the founder of the religion called
Zoroastrianism.
The idea that angels are expressions or extensions of God and not independent beings
was emphasized by the Gnostics, contemporaries of Jesus, which prevented from accepting
the angels as intermediaries between humans and God, as, in effect, God brokers.

Meaning, origin and etymology of the word angel

There is not a single word in the biblical Hebrew language that matches the one in
English that is translated as angel because, according to dictionaries, the English word
angel means a spiritual being who inhabits in heaven and is the intermediate between
humans and God. The English term angel derives from the ecclesiastical Latin angelus,
which comes from the Greek aggelos that means messenger of God which, in turn,
translates the Hebrew .
The Hebrew term means send and can be translated as sent, messenger.
However, there are other meanings that can be attributed to this term, such as legacy,
ambassador, emissary, mail, angel. As seen, there is a gap between what is meant by angel
and what it means in its infancy. Therefore, it is not recommended to bring this meaning as a
translation.
Understanding the meaning of the word orlm, messenger, it is discovered that it
designates not a being, but a function, that is, to deliver a message to a particular recipient. To
verify the occurrence of this word in the Old Testament, it is clear that it was used both for
human beings messengers as well as for Gods messengers. This double use for human
beings messengers and Gods messengers permeates the entire Old Testament.
The distance that has grown between the original meaning of the word to the
English translation is an interesting event because it reports the development of a whole
Judeo-Christian angelology. The Hebrews did not believe in the existence of a post-death
13

reality, since, for them, life began at birth and ends with death and there is not the Hellenic
conception that the human being is an embodied spirit. The human being is an animated body
that consists of ruach, which means life itself, the person, the I, that feels, is the home of
emotions, desires. It means throat, breathing, breath, being, person, individuality, life, soul
and so on.
By the meaning that the word soul currently has, due to the Hellenic influences, it is
wrong to translate the Hebrew term as well. The soul is the subject of mental and volitional
processes, which are usually attributed to heart. Ruach is the spirit of life, the breath, which
is given by God and drawn by Him in death. This is not a personal living being in humans.
Without the spirit nobody lives. In addition, it is also vitality while activity, character,
temperament and courage. So why the meaning of angel in Portuguese refers to a spirit
being, that it has its origin in the Hebrew word ruach, which?
In the attempt to answer the question above, lets go back in time - when they drafted
the Septuagint (LXX), where the translators at first glance, only brought into the context of
their universe what meant for the Jewish people, meaning messenger. Nevertheless,
there are several indications that already in the LXX the word aggelos begins to take on an
almost divine meaning. Clear examples of this are the translations of ( sons of
God) and ( gods) by aggelos in Genesis 6:2 and Ps 96:7, respectively. It can also be
mentioned a substitution at Ec 5:5. In fact, it is not a translation, as you can see, but rather an
interpretation, resulting from the Hellenistic influences about Judaism from the Diaspora.
With the two deportations of 598/7 B.C. and 587/6 B.C., the people of Israel suffered
much oppression and fear resulting from the Babylonian domination. Population groups
migrated to Egypt. This period in Israels history eventually gave rise to the Diaspora.
Between 333 B.C. and 331 B.C., with the conquest of the Middle East by Alexander the
Great, began a long period of Hellenization among the nations of the East, which also lasted
during the Roman Empire.
Despite the Judaism of Palestine have resisted in a great extent the intellectual
influence of Hellenism, the same cannot be said of the Judaism of Alexandria, Diasporas
main intellectual center. About a century after the conquest of Alexander the Great, King of
Macedonia, leader and most famous strategist of the Ancient Times (356 B.C. 323 B.C.), the
Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, thus resulting in the LXX, which was not free from
the Hellenic influences. In this translation, there were eliminated many anthropomorphisms
14

and anthropopathisms of the Hebrew literature, i.e., hand was translated as power. This
suggests that the Greek conception of intermediate beings that were divine beings, as Hermes,
who was a messenger god in the Greek Mythology, son of Zeus and Maia, may have also
influenced the interpretation of for the Greek world, resulting then in the interpretations
viewed above.
A clear distinction between the divine and the human messengers exists only in the
Vulgate which translates angelus for divine messengers and nuntios for human messengers.
This distinction was maintained by modern translations. However, what really happened for
developing understanding of what originally meant a function, as king, engineer,
postman, scribe and other functional nouns that exist, until the designation of a spiritual
being, will be viewed later. In this first part, it is worth noting only that the term has
functional character, messenger, and is not essential.

Angels: divine, myths or humans?

This inquiry has its reason for being in the preceding paragraph, where we sought to
give an initial response to the development of the biblical angelology. We wondered for the
reason of the English word angel meaning, since it is originated from the Hebrew that
has only functional character.
The Hebrews had no idea about the reality of post-mortem and about the
understanding of spirit as a pre-existing being, who survives death, who lives with God and
is a personal living being inside humans. They simply did not believe in it. From the Jewish
conception of being human, it is possible to come up with a conclusion: the angels are not
spiritual beings. At least it was not so for the Hebrews. Therefore, what would it be? Would
then Gods messengers be humans, smaller gods or just myths?
A recent study wants to prove that the Canaanite people played a key role in the
Jewish religion. These people believed in the divine world, with a hierarchy divided into four
layers, according to the Ugaritic narrative. It is possible to express this structure as follows:

-- maximum deity (El and Asherah)


-- main gods (Baal, Yam, Mamot, Mot, Anat)
-- gods art (Kothar-wa-Hasis)
15

-- messenger gods (Malachim)


There are several indications that this structure of the Canaanite pantheon was part of
the pre-exilic worship in Jerusalem. Archaeological evidences confirms the existence of the
pantheon and biblical evidences show that Yahweh had a partner who was part of the real
worship. However, the biblical authors reject the goddess as deity (1st Kings 11:5-8).
The theology of the religious worship of Judah considers only Yahweh as God. He is
the source of all wisdom and the controller of all events. According to Lowell K. Handy, arose
a religious movement in Judah who fought the pantheon, saying that there was only one deity
in the entire cosmos.
However, Lowell K. Handy notes that the Jewish religion has kept the structure of the
Canaanite pantheon but extinguish the two levels between the highest authority and
messenger. According to him, the two intermediate classes were holding certain autonomy
and could compromise the normal course of the universe by Yahweh. The actions of the
messenger gods were just extensions of the action of the god that had sent them. The
messenger gods were preserved because they did not have power and authority, other than
serve. Therefore, they could not argue with Yahweh or disrupt its management.
Such comprehension would lead to the statement: angels would then be messenger
gods who were not extinct in the change process of the Jewish religion to the early Judaism,
at which only came to accept the maximum deity of the divine world and Mythological
Canaanite religion. The messengers of God would not be, at first glance, the mythological
gods. The study of Lowell K. Handy is extremely relevant because, unlike Theodor H. Gaster,
he seeks parallels in the ancient religion of the country in question, not in the neighboring
cultures. However, the structure in which the answer to the question is unfold is more
complex than it seems.
Theodor Gaster also refers to the ancient pagan religions to explain the existence of
the messengers of God as gods. The existence of the intermediate beings was common in the
beliefs of the Middle East peoples. According to him, the specific characteristics of the
angels in the older parts of the Old Testament also derive from the oldest cultural heritage of
the Middle East.
The historians of the religions observed that the gods of a religion supplanted by
another did not totally fade away, but at times succeeded in staying as individuals subjected to
the higher deities, but getting themselves superior to humans. In other words, facing the new
16

god, the ancient gods lose a large divine percentage, becoming intermediate beings. For
example, against the Yahwist monotheism, the old gods were reduced to the level of Yahweh
servers, presiding over his heavenly council (Job 1-2).
Furthermore, there is a philosophical factor. Comparing the divine and the human
stood a huge disparity between the divine transcendence and the human world, especially in
the Greek thought. The intermediate beings emerged, then, as an alternative to establish the
contact between the two worlds. Thus, there are three alternatives related to the mythological
gods as the answer to the question about the essence of Gods messengers. Such alternatives
would not also point to a possible mythological character of Yahweh?
Claus Westermann discards the thesis of the angels as spiritual beings, but does not
deny the possibility of the existence of Gods messengers as human beings. According to
Westermann, the angels are as inaccessible as God. The being of the angels or its
existence cannot be determined because the Bible never speaks about the being of the
angels or about their existence. It only reports the arrival of a messenger and the only thing
one can find is the message.
Other researchers, such as Sister Maria Pia Giudici and Dom Joo E. M. Terra, even
though agreeing with part of the critics survey, confirm the existence of Gods messengers as
spiritual beings belonging to a superhuman world and that they are, before anything, a truth of
faith. According to them: If the praise of the angels were a mere literary ornament to signify
that the material creatures render praise to God, it would not be a sign of greatness for the
Church to be associated with these praises.
All this shows how difficult it is to define the nature of the angels, making room for
the most possible antagonistic views. Some scholars, such as Theodor Gaster, receive
criticism for not considering the historical-salvific context of the Old Testament, extrapolating
the biblical field to look for the minimum analogies in the most disparate fields, such as the
French, Germanic and Celtic folklore or the Greek tragedy.

Semantics

Despite of being the most common, the entry is not the only one that is used to
designate heavenly beings in the Old Testament, because other terms or expressions are also
used to designate angels, including: sons of the Almighty, Ps 82:6; sons of God, Gen.
17

6:2; sons of gods, Ps 29:1; spirit, 1 Kings 22:21; saints, Ps 89:9; accuser, Num 22:22;
adversary, Num 22:22; assembly of God, Ps 82:1; congregation of God, Psalm 82:1,
counsel of God, Jn 15:8; prince of the army, Joshua 5:14; army, Ps 89:9; ministers,
Ps 103:21; sublime, Jn 21:22; vigilant, Daniel 4:10; strong, Ps 78:25; heroes, Ps
103:20.
In their majority, these entries are found in the third block of the canonical books. It is
in this part which are attributed names to the angels, as Gabriel (Dn 12:1) and Miguel
(Daniel 10:13).
All these terms and expressions used to describe Gods angels come from a large
religious influence of the Persian Empire. They have their reason for being from the
development of the Old Testament angelology after the Babylonian Exile. Most of this new
concept did not actually enter into the Vetere-testamentary canon. The major influences are
discovered in the other writings, mainly in the books of Job, Daniel and Tobias.
In the book of Daniel, angelology is highly developed. In addition to the incalculable
number of angels who is around God (Daniel 7:10), the functions of angels are specialized
and are hierarchized while their personality is needed, Gods messengers receive names like
Michael in Dn 10:13 and Daniel 12: 1, considered the protector of Israel; and Gabriel in
Daniel 8:16 and Daniel 9:21, who explains to Daniel the meaning of his visions.
For the most part, these expressions are of Persian origin, whose religion understood
the divine world as being governed by a supreme authority, El and his subordinates.
These subordinates, who are below the Almighty, are called sons of the Almighty, sons
of God, sons of gods and saints.
As time passed, the Hebrew culture incorporated many of these concepts, applied to
the essence of these beings and other terms already mentioned above. These deities who are
subordinate to Yahweh became His army because of the warrior character of Yahweh himself.
There is a clear problem of biblical angelology today. To understand this problem, we
should look at some passages of the Old Testament in order to assist in the search for a
biblical angelology.