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Angels

(5,988 words)

Author(s): Woschitz, Karl M. | Görg, Manfred | Wischmeyer, Oda | Sparn, Walter | Lohberg, Gabriele | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament– IV. Church History – V. Philosophy of Religion – VI. Dogmatics – VII. Art History – VIII. Practical Theology – IX. Judaism – X. Islam I. Religious Studies Religious conceptions include numinous intermediary beings of the most varied types and origins that mediate between the divine sphere and humanity and also serve higher powers. These are sometimes seen as emanations of the divine, sometimes as personified good guardian forces of the human. The original source are experiences of the intervention of forces from the non-human realm or other forms of irrational experience of a mysterious power affecting people. According to E.B. Tylor the “primitive” discovered the “soul” by reflecting on the cause of death, sleep, dreams as distinct from the body and as an outward projection (“external soul,” “souls outside” a personal guardian spirit). Zoroastrianism (Zarathustra/Zoroastrianism), the origin of the angel-concept in the stricter sense, represents an example of this duality with its Ameša Spenta, the canonical divine spirits and executors of the divine will of Ahura Mazdā or Fravurti (Fravashi; avestic “confession,” Avesta), the spiritual double of the person, one's “guardian angel,” which unites with a person's soul after death and makes the person immortal. Further, the sacral value of the messenger becomes the prototype for the heavenly messengers: for example Hermes, Iris, among the northern Germanic peoples the two ravens Hugin (“thought”) and Munin (“memory”) as companions of the god Odin who whisper in his ear what they have observed. In contrast, in the speculations of …