Published on May 11, 2020

Angel Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC
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An angel is a supernatural being in various religions and mythologies. Abrahamic religions often depict them as benevolent celestial intermediaries between God (or Heaven) and humanity. Other roles include protectors and guides for humans, and servants of God. Abrahamic religions describe angelic hierarchies, which vary by sect and religion. Some angels have specific names (such as Gabriel or Michael) or titles (such as seraph or archangel). Humans have also used “angel” to describe various spirits and figures in other religious traditions. The theological study of angels is known as “angelology”. Those expelled from Heaven are called fallen angels, distinct from the heavenly host.

Angels in art are usually shaped like humans of extraordinary beauty. They are often identified In Christian artwork with bird wings, halos, and divine light.

The word angel arrives in modern English from Old English engel (with a hard g) and the Old French angele. Both of these derive from Late Latin angelus (literally “messenger”), which in turn was borrowed from Late Greek ἄγγελος angelos. Additionally, per Dutch linguist R. S. P. Beekes, ángelos itself may be “an Oriental loan, like ἄγγαρος (ángaros, ‘Persian mounted courier’).” Perhaps then, the word’s earliest form is Mycenaean a-ke-ro, attested in Linear B syllabic script.

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The rendering of “ángelos” is the Septuagint’s default translation of the Biblical Hebrew term malʼākh, denoting simply “messenger” without connoting its nature. In the associations to follow in the Latin Vulgate, this meaning becomes bifurcated: when malʼākh or ángelos is supposed to denote a human messenger, words like nuntius or legatus are applied. If the word refers to some supernatural being, the word angelus appears. Such differentiation has been taken over by later vernacular translations of the Bible, early Christian and Jewish exegetes and eventually modern scholars.

The Torah uses the (Hebrew) terms מלאך אלהים (mal’āk̠ ‘ĕlōhîm; messenger of God), מלאך יהוה (mal’āk̠ YHWH; messenger of the Lord), בני אלהים (bənē ‘ĕlōhîm; sons of God) and הקודשים (haqqôd̠əšîm; the holy ones) to refer to beings traditionally interpreted as angels. Later texts use other terms, such as העליונים (hā’elyônîm; the upper ones).

The term מלאך (mal’āk̠) is also used in other books of the Tanakh. Depending on the context, the Hebrew word may refer to a human messenger or to a supernatural messenger. A human messenger might be a prophet or priest, such as Malachi, “my messenger”; the Greek superscription in the Septuagint translation states the Book of Malachi was written “by the hand of his messenger” ἀγγέλου angélu. Examples of a supernatural messenger are the “Malak YHWH,” who is either a messenger from God, an aspect of God (such as the Logos), or God himself as the messenger (the “theophanic angel.”)

Scholar Michael D. Coogan notes that it is only in the late books that the terms “come to mean the benevolent semi-divine beings familiar from later mythology and art.” Daniel is the first biblical figure to refer to individual angels by name, mentioning Gabriel (God’s primary messenger) in Daniel 9:21 and Michael (the holy fighter) in Daniel 10:13. These angels are part of Daniel’s apocalyptic visions and are an important part of all apocalyptic literature.

Angel Background images gallery for free download

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