понеделник, 15 август 2011 г.

Angels-PATRISTIC ANGELOLOGY

It was impossible for the early

Christian fathers to neglect angels

,
principally because of the many references to them in the Bible,
which plainly implies their ontological reality. Thus, the early fathers
of the church were forced to recognize angels as part of their theologi-
cal enterprise. Being so close to the traditional
polytheism of the Mediterranean world, they
also had to explain to their pagan antagonists
that neither angels nor saints were worshiped as
divinities and that angels, though revered for
their superior status in the hierarchy of being,
their closeness to God, and their benevolence
to humanity, were nonetheless creatures like
ourselves.
Beyond these issues, however, the Christian
authors of the first five centuries were far
too concerned with disciplinary and dogmatic
issues to give much attention to theories about
angels, with the exception of the brilliant
Alexandrian theologian Origen. Origen attributed
to angels an ethereal body, an attribution
that would later be disputed by Thomas
Aquinas. He also took the position that angels
are capable of falling from their high estate and
asserted that they derive their position or rank
according to their merit; they are neither
impeccable nor unredeemable.
It was only with the early sixth-century
writings of the mystical theologian Dionysius
the Areopagite, who flourished about the year 500, that Christian
angelology took on its classical form. Dionysius’s chief work on angles,
The Celestial Hierarchy, took on rather different interpretations in
Eastern and Western Christianity. Byzantine authors, from Maximus
the Confessor in the seventh century to Gregory Palamas and his
opponents in the fourteenth century, adapted and used the Dionysian
system as part of a mystical theology with roots in the writings of the
Alexandrian and Cappadocian fathers.
In the Latin West, however, Dionysius’s work stimulated theories
concerning the nature of angels. The early medieval authors Gregory
the Great and Bede the Venerable used his writings in essentially pastoral
discussions of the role of angels. In the ninth century The Celestial
Hierarchy was translated into Latin by Hilduin of Saint-Denis and
again by John Scotus Erigena. The latter translation, corrected by
Anastasius the Librarian in 875, became a standard reference work in
the High Middle Ages.

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