Jesus and Angels
- Apologies for cross posting.
Here is a rough draft of the first section of an entry on "Jesus and
Angels" that I am working on for a work on the Historical Jesus that
Craig Evans is editing. I'd be grateful for your thoughts on it. I'd be
especially grateful if you'd help me in adding citations from the
Apocrypha, The Pseudepigrapha, the DSS, the NT, and from demonstrably
early Rabbinic material that demonstrate the claims I've made about the
nature, roles, and functions "angels" were thought to have in second
If what appears here seems too concise, please remember that I am
constrained to keep the entirety of the entry to approx. 1000 words, and
I have not yet dealt completely with the topic "fallen angels", let
alone at all with the topic of Jesus' view of angels.
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
Transcendent, incorporeal/1/, yet in earthly manifestation
anthropomorphic, a-sexual, numinous, visually glorious /2/, and powerful
beings who were regarded by all parties within 1st century Judaism (the
Sadducees, despite the apparent testimony of Acts 23:8, being no
exception/3/) as having been created by the God of Israel before or
shortly after his establishment of the world/4/ who, under the explicit
direction or the permissive will of their creator, carry out a variety
of functions, depending on their status as heavenly and holy or as
rebellious and fallen.
The primary function of those within the former grouping is to serve as
divine messengers envoys who speak in the name, and with the
authority, of God himself. In this capacity they take on such tasks as
announcing the births of important figures within the divine plan (cf.
Gen 16:1112; Gen 18:915; Judg 13:35; Matt. 2; Lk 2), communicating
the word of the Lord to prophets (Elijah, 2 Kgs 1:3, 15; 1 Kgs 13:18;
1 Kgs 22:1922; Isaiah 6; Jer 23:18, 23), and relaying (and
interpreting) divine injunctions and promises or revealing the future to
those to whom they are sent.
But they also are commissioned as agents whose role is to give
assurances to those in fear and service to those under trial, to protect
those who travel (Dan. 10: 13, 20; 11: 1; 12: 1; 2 Macc. I I 3 Macc.
6:18; Sus. 45; Bel 34-39; Enoch 20:5; J 35:17; lQH 5.21-22; IQS 9,15;
lQM 9.16; . T. Jud. 3:10), to bring the prayers and the petitions of the
faithful before God (Tob. 12:15; 2 Bar. I I G; I QH 6.13), and to
intervene at crucial moments of a persons life to change or guide that
persons actions (Hagar, Gen 16:9; Abraham, Gen 22:1112; Balaam, Num
22:3135; the people of Israel, Judg 2:15).
Notable, too, is that they are given the task of requiting disobedience
to God in both the present and, especially, at the end of the age, when
they will be an instrument of divine judgement and justice against
apostates and all enemies of Gods people.
They were envisaged as an army (2 Baruch 5:11; 70; Test. Levi 3:3; Matt.
Lk. 2 ) which is drawn up in hierarchical and distinct ranks headed by
commanders called archangels,5 and were expected to participate in a
final war against the wicked ((Zech. 14:13; lQH 3.35-36; 10.34-35;
And as T.H. Gaster has noted, the holy ones were also portrayed as the
controlling spirits of such natural phenomena as celestial bodies and
winds (Enoch 19:1; 40:4-5; 60: 12, 16-21; 61:10; 72:1; Jub. 2:2-3; lQH
1.10-11~ 47.7-13) and of the seasons as well as of such abstractions as
peace (Enoch 40:8; 52:5; Test. Dan 6:5; Test. Asher 6:6; Test. Benj.
6:1; cf. Isa. 33:7), healing (Tob. 33: 17; Enoch 10:7; 40:9), and death
(2 Bar. 21:23; cf. Prov. 16:14).
The primary function of fallen angels, who seem always to be envisaged
as under the leadership of an angelic prince (s8ar) -- identified
variously as Mastema (Jub. 10:8), Beelzebul, Satan (Matt. 25:41; 2 Cor.
12:7. 1 Pet. 3:19 f.), the enemy; the evil one, the ruler of this
world, the adversary, the devil, Beliar and other names -- is to
separate Israel from God by ensnaring them in evil, inciting them to
apostacy, and leading the elect astray. But they also, in conjunction
with their primary function, and in conformity with their rebellious
nature, serve to arouse and direct the Nations, over whom they were
originally set as guardians /6/, to dominate, if not to destroy, Gods
people in an attempt to frustrate or make impossible the implementation
of Gods purposes in and for the world.
1. But cf. Jubilees 15:27 which describes angels as circumcised.
2. Cf., e.g., 2 Enoch 5; Lk. 2:
3. On this, see D. Daube, JBL 109 (1990) 493-497; B.T. Viviano and
Justin Taylor Sadducees, Angels, and Resurrection (Acts 23:8-9), JBL
111 (1992) 496-498.
4. Cf. Job 38:7; Jub. 2:2; Bereshith Rabba 3
5. The number of these commanders varies. According to Tob. 12:1 G;
Enoch 81:5; 90:21-22; 2 Esdr. 5:20), there are seven; according to Enoch
40; 87:2-3; 88:1), four; according
to Enoch 90:31, three.
6. Cf. Dan. 10:13, 20, 21; 12:1, Jub. 15:31-32; 1 Enoch 89.59 among