Angels

Authored by: John Charles Arnold , Tony Walter

The Routledge Companion to Death and Dying

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138852075
eBook ISBN: 9781315723747
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315723747.ch33

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Abstract

The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam understand angels to comprise a distinct species of bodiless, intelligent creatures who move between the sensible material world and the realm beyond. Angels mediate between humanity and the transcendent One God. They not only relay messages and prayers across the chasm that divides them, but also mark arenas of spatial purity where God’s power and wisdom might enter or reside in this world. As liminal figures, angels also figure prominently in the death experience. They execute the divine will by bringing or protecting against death, or by guarding and accompanying the dead to judgment. In some cases they have been seen as a trace or shade of the human dead. These roles emerged from a synthesis of Jewish, Greek, and Persian ideas as well as those of other ancient Near Eastern cultures.

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