In my opinion, I think you would be hard pressed to find another subject, paranormal or otherwise, other than politics, that individuals can me more emotional about. If you believe the stories, and there are quite a few of them, they are responsible for everything from turning cities to salt, to saving babies in burning buildings. Theories on their existence, or lack of, are just as varied. The theories include everything from ancient astronauts, to servants of "God" or "Satan", spirits or souls of the dead, polytheistic deities (Apollo, Venus, Gaia, etc), or "who knows what". It is kind of striking how the camps break down. It appears that people either believe in one (1) of the theories very strongly or they fall quite solidly in the "who knows what" category and seem quite resistant in even contemplating what they could be. Is this a fear of the unknown, a fear of what may be, or maybe its just complacency to even theorize on something that they believe is just plain non-sense?
Whatever the case is many books have been written on the subject, some religious and some not, but the fact is that at the end of the day many people don't know more about angels than what they've seen in pop culture (see Frailty and Dogma). Maybe they know the names of some angels like Micheal and Gabriel. They may have even heard about the Book of Revelation in the new Testament of the Bible where the "war is heaven" is described, again another reference brought to the fore front by being the basis of screenplays (see Constantine and The Prophecy).
Truth be told, most of the things we know about angels is not in the Bible. The Bible only references seven (7) angels. Michael as one of the leading angels is considered "Prince" of the heavenly hosts, and appears twice in the Book of Daniel (10:13 and 12:1). He is the only one in the Bible referred to as an Archangel (Jude 1:9), and serves a major role in Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation. The angel Gabriel first appears twice to Daniel (Daniel 8:16 and 9:21), but is best known for the Annunciation to Mary that she would be the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38). The Book of Tobias (Tobit 12:15) names Raphael as "one of the seven who stand before the Lord." Revelation 8:2 also refers to the seven angels who stand before the Lord. The seven are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the three named in the Bible, and Raguel, Remiel, Saraqael, and Uriel, named in Enoch (20:1-8), a book found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Bible of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Ethiopia. So, if these are the only ones referenced in the Bible and these are the only situations they are referred to in where does the rest of the lore, and the innumerable names of them come from?
For the most part they come from apocryphal texts. The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical". Here is a very brief list of apocryphal books, it may not seem especially brief but, believe it or not, there is a tremendous amount of literature out there that may or may not have been part of the Bible at some point in its development:
- 1 Esdras
- 2 Esdras
- Additions to Esther
- Wisdom of Solomon
- Ecclesiasticus (Sirach)
- Baruch with the Letter of Jeremiah
- Song of the Three Young Men and Prayer of Azariah
- Story of Susanna
- Bel and the Dragon
- Prayer of Manasseh
- 1 Maccabees
- 2 Maccabees
- 3 Maccabees
- 4 Maccabees
- Psalm 151 (in the Septuagint) and Psalms 152-155
- 2 Baruch or the Letter of Baruch
- 3 Baruch or the Apocalypse of Baruch
- 4 Baruch or the Paralipomena of Jeremiah
- 1, 2, 3 Megabyan
Now, lets keep this in mind, this is a blog post. We cannot expound on everything "Angels" in just one post. That would be impractical and probably not much fun to read. There is a lot of material out there and, as I stated above, much of it is alien to all except for a few biblical scholars. That being said, there is a lot of material that has not been referenced for movies and books that is just as fascinating, some would even say bizarre. There is a reason why the early Judeo-Christain leaders allowed some books into the Bible, and why some were not. Mind you, the Bible is full of miracles and wonders, but if everything ever written intended for the Bible, was in the Bible, it would be tens of thousands (10,000's) pages long and be full of material that would rival our most outlandish fantasy novels. A book like this would be firstly too ungainly for all but the most wealthy, and secondly would most likely classified as more of a book of mythology, and less a book of historical fact.
I'm in Seventh Heaven", but what does it mean? In the song a man sings about loving a woman but there is much more to the "seventh heaven" than that, and it starts with a man named Enoch.
Enoch was a man who lived nine-thousand (9,000) years ago, according to the Bible. If you look above you will note that "Book of Enoch" is one of the apocryphal texts. The contents of said book are quite extensive and filled with some of the more incredible stories of the Bible. After all, its not everyday you read about a man who doesn't die, walks with God, told the secrets of the universe, visits the Garden of Eden, and is made into an angel who is called the "king of the angels". My suspicion is this prophet will be revisited in future posts but for today lets concern ourselves with the "secrets of the universe" part of his resume.
- Third Heaven (Sagun or Shehaqim) - The angelic ruler is Anahel. It is also the domain of Azrael, the Islamic angel of Death, which seems to accord with Enoch who places Hell within its northern boundaries. Here the wicked are punished and tortured by the angels.