posted on Jul, 1 2003 @ 03:49 AM
The Western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have all accepted the belief that there is, between God and mankind, a class of intermediary
beings called Angels. The word Angel comes from the Greek word 'Angelos', various services for God or for people and God's behalf.
Angels are good spirits. They have thier counterpart in Demons, or eveil spirits. The word demons is derived from the greek word 'Daimon', meaning
basically any supernatural being or spirit. Belief in spirits of all kinds was quite prevalent in the ancient world. But when Chrisitianity appeared,
nearly 2,000 years ago, it condemned belief in such spirits and assigned them the name Demon. Ever since, demons have been thought of as evil
The origins of belief in angels and demons can be traced to the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. Followers of the prophet Zoroaster
believed that there were two supreme beings, one good and one evil. The good one, Ahura Mazda, was served by angels: the evil one, Ahriman, had demon
helpers. Zoroastrians referred to demons as 'Daevas', hence the word devil. Belief in good and evil spirits worked its way into judaism and later
into the religions of Christianity and Islam.
Angels are frequently mentioned in the Bible, mostly in the role of messengers from God to mankind. Their appearances on Earth seem to have been in
human form. In the Old Testament books of jobs, Ezekiel, and Daniel as well as in the Apocryphal book of Tobit, angels play significant roles. In the
book of Job the leading demon, satan, is also introduced. But it is not until the New Testament that satan is portrayed, under the name Lucifer, as
the first of the fallen angels - the angels that rebelled against God.
In the New Testament, angels are present at all the important events in the life of Jesus, from his birth to the Resurrection. In the very dramatic
Book of Revelation, angels are portrayed as the angels of God in bringing judgment upon the world. Other New Testament writers also speak of angels.
St Paul especially take note of them by assigning them ranks. He lists seven groups: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtures, dominions
and thrones. The Old Testament had spoken of only two others: cherubim and seraphim.
Early Christianity accepted all nine ranks and in the course of time developed extensive doctrines about both angels and demons. The latter were
conceived of as Satan's legions, sent out to lure mankind away from belief in God. Angels and demons play similar roles in Islam and are often
mentioned in its holy book, the Koran.
Belief in supernatural spirits has not been limited to the major Western religions. In the preliterate societies of Africa, Oceania, Asia and the
Americans, spirits were thought to inhabit the whole natural world. These spirits could act either for good or for evil, and so there was no division
between angels and demons. The power of these spirits is called 'mana', which can be either helpful or hurtful to people.
Fascination with angels and demons has led to their frequent depiction in works of art and lierature. The paintings, stained glass, mosaics and
sculptures of the Middle Ages and Renaissance are especially replete with figures of both.
In John Milton's long poem "Paradise Lost" (1667), Satan himself is a main character; and the angels Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael play prominent
roles. In Dante's "Divine Comedy" (1321?) angels appear as both messengers and guardians, and satan is vividly portrayed frozen in a block of
[Edited on 1-7-2003 by blackwidow666]