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Easton Taylor
Easton Taylor

Discover the Secrets of the Angelic Hierarchy in Thomas Heywood's Classic Book



The Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels Pdf




Angels are spiritual beings that serve as messengers, guardians, and helpers of God. They are often depicted as winged creatures with human-like features, but they can also take different forms depending on their mission and rank. But how many types of angels are there, and how are they organized? In this article, we will explore the concept of the hierarchy of angels, which is a ranking system of angels based on their power, authority, appearance, and function. We will also look at how different religions and cultures have developed their own views on angels and their ranks, and how a 17th-century book by Thomas Heywood called The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells contributed to this topic.




The Hierarchy Of The Blessed Angels Pdf



The origin and history of angelic hierarchy




The idea of a hierarchy of angels can be traced back to ancient times, when various civilizations had their own beliefs and myths about supernatural beings that served as intermediaries between humans and gods. For example, the ancient Egyptians had a complex pantheon of gods and goddesses, each with their own associated spirits or messengers. The ancient Greeks and Romans also had a variety of gods and goddesses, as well as lesser deities such as nymphs, satyrs, fauns, and muses. The ancient Persians had a dualistic religion that divided the cosmos into two opposing forces: Ahura Mazda (the wise lord) and Angra Mainyu (the destructive spirit). They also believed in six divine beings called Amesha Spentas (the bounteous immortals) who assisted Ahura Mazda in his fight against evil.


However, the most influential sources for the development of angelic hierarchy were the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These monotheistic faiths share a common belief in one God who created everything, including angels. They also share some common scriptures, such as the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament) and the Quran (the holy book of Islam). These scriptures contain many references to angels and their roles in God's plan for humanity. For example, in Genesis 28:12-15, Jacob sees a vision of a ladder reaching up to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. In Exodus 3:2-6, Moses encounters an angel in a burning bush who speaks to him on behalf of God. In Daniel 10:13-21, Daniel receives a visit from an angel who reveals to him some future events. In Luke 1:26-38, Gabriel announces to Mary that she will give birth to Jesus. In Revelation 12:7-9, Michael leads a war in heaven against Satan and his fallen angels.


Based on these scriptures and other sources, such as apocryphal books (books that are not part of the official canon), mystical writings (such as those by Kabbalists or Sufis), theological treatises (such as those by Pseudo-Dionysius or Maimonides), and artistic representations (such as paintings or sculptures), different theologians and scholars have proposed various schemes for classifying angels into different hierarchies or orders. These schemes vary in the number, names, and functions of the angelic ranks, as well as their relation to God and humans. In the following sections, we will examine some of the most prominent and influential angelic hierarchies in the three Abrahamic religions.


The Christian angelic hierarchy




The most influential Christian angelic hierarchy was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a mysterious author who lived in the 5th or 6th century CE and claimed to be a disciple of Saint Paul. In his book De Coelesti Hierarchia (On the Celestial Hierarchy), he described nine levels of spiritual beings that he grouped into three orders: the highest order, the middle order, and the lowest order. Each order contained three choirs or ranks of angels, each with different characteristics and functions. He based his scheme on passages from the New Testament, such as Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, as well as on Neoplatonic philosophy, which posited a hierarchy of being from the One (the ultimate source of reality) to the many (the material world). According to Pseudo-Dionysius, the hierarchy of angels reflected the hierarchy of being, with each level closer to God being more pure, perfect, and powerful than the lower ones. He also believed that the angels mediated between God and humans, transmitting God's grace and illumination to the lower realms.


The highest order of angels consisted of the seraphim, the cherubim, and the thrones. These were the closest to God and his throne, and their main role was to praise and worship him. The seraphim were the highest rank of angels, and their name means "the burning ones". They were described as having six wings: two covering their faces, two covering their feet, and two for flying. They constantly sang "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:3). The cherubim were the second rank of angels, and their name means "the fullness of knowledge". They were depicted as having four wings and four faces: that of a lion, an ox, an eagle, and a human. They guarded the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve's expulsion (Genesis 3:24) and supported God's throne (Ezekiel 10:1-22). The thrones were the third rank of angels, and their name means "the steadfast ones". They were portrayed as having wheels within wheels covered with eyes (Ezekiel 1:15-21) or as fiery chariots (Daniel 7:9). They carried out God's judgments and decrees.


The middle order of angels consisted of the dominions, the virtues, and the powers. These were responsible for governing and ordering the lower realms according to God's will. The dominions were the fourth rank of angels, and their name means "the lords". They were depicted as wearing crowns and holding scepters or orbs. They regulated the activities of the lower angels and ensured that they obeyed God's commands. The virtues were the fifth rank of angels, and their name means "the forces". They were shown as holding flaming swords or shields. They performed miracles and signs on earth and gave courage and strength to humans in times of need. The powers were the sixth rank of angels, and their name means "the authorities". They were represented as wearing armor or helmets. They fought against evil spirits and defended humans from their attacks.


The Jewish angelic hierarchy




The Jewish angelic hierarchy is established in the Hebrew Bible, Talmud, Rabbinic literature, and traditional Jewish liturgy. They are categorized in different hierarchies proposed by various theologians. For example, Maimonides, a 12th-century Jewish philosopher and scholar, counted ten ranks of angels in his Mishneh Torah or Yad ha-Chazakah: Yesodei ha-Torah (The Foundations of the Torah). He based his classification on the names and functions of the angels mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and other sources. According to Maimonides, the ten ranks of angels are:


  • The Chayot Ha Kodesh (the holy living creatures), who are the highest rank of angels and support God's throne. They are described as having four faces and four wings (Ezekiel 1:5-14).



  • The Ophanim (the wheels), who are associated with the Chayot Ha Kodesh and also support God's throne. They are described as having wheels within wheels covered with eyes (Ezekiel 1:15-21).



  • The Erelim (the valiant ones), who are also called Ishim (the fiery ones) or Seraphim (the burning ones). They are described as having six wings and praising God with the words "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:2-3).



  • The Hashmallim (the glowing ones), who are also called Cherubim (the fullness of knowledge). They are described as having four faces and four wings (Ezekiel 10:1-22) and guarding the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24).



  • The Seraphim (the princes), who are different from the Erelim or Seraphim mentioned above. They are described as being like sparks of fire and standing before God's throne (Daniel 7:9).



  • The Malakim (the messengers), who are the most common type of angels and perform various tasks for God and humans. They are often given specific names, such as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, etc.



  • The Elohim (the gods), who are also called Bene Elohim (the sons of God) or Bene Elim (the sons of the mighty). They are described as being part of God's heavenly council and sometimes interfering with human affairs (Genesis 6:1-4; Psalm 82:1-8).



  • The Bene Elohim (the sons of God), who are different from the Elohim or Bene Elohim mentioned above. They are described as being loyal to God and singing praises to him at the creation of the world (Job 38:7).



  • The Cherubim (the mighty ones), who are different from the Hashmallim or Cherubim mentioned above. They are described as being powerful warriors who execute God's judgments on earth (Psalm 18:10; 2 Samuel 22:11).



  • The Ishim (the men), who are the lowest rank of angels and resemble humans in appearance and free will. They are also called Neshamot (the souls) or Asiyot (the doers). They can ascend or descend in the angelic hierarchy depending on their deeds.



The Islamic angelic hierarchy




There is no standard hierarchical organization in Islam that parallels the Christian division into different "choirs" or spheres, and the topic is not directly addressed in the Quran. However, it is clear that there is a set order or hierarchy that exists between angels, defined by the assigned jobs and various tasks to which angels are commanded by God. Some scholars suggest that Islamic angels can be grouped into fourteen categories, with some of the higher orders being considered archangels. Qazwini, a 13th-century Persian scholar and cosmographer, describes an angelic hierarchy in his Aja'ib al-makhluqat (The Wonders of Creation) with Ruh on the head of all angels, surrounded by four archangelic cherubim. Below them are the seven angels of the seven heavens. According to Qazwini, the fourteen categories of angels are:


  • Ruh (the spirit), who is also called Jibril (Gabriel) or the Holy Spirit. He is the highest and most noble of all angels, and the chief messenger of God. He revealed the Quran to Muhammad and other scriptures to previous prophets.



  • The four cherubim, who are also called the bearers of the throne or the supporters of the heavens. They are Israfil (the blower of the trumpet), Mikail (Michael, the provider of sustenance), Azrail (the angel of death), and Izrail (the angel of mercy).



  • The seven angels of the seven heavens, who are also called the guardians of the gates or the keepers of the records. They are Ridwan (the angel of paradise), Malik (the angel of hell), Raqib (the angel who records good deeds), Atid (the angel who records bad deeds), Munkar (the angel who questions the dead in the grave), Nakir (the angel who questions the dead in the grave), and Kiraman Katibin (the noble scribes who record everything).



  • The angels of the lower heavens, who are also called the watchers or the observers. They are responsible for various natural phenomena, such as rain, wind, thunder, lightning, etc.



  • The angels of the earth, who are also called the helpers or the assistants. They are involved in various affairs of humans and animals, such as protection, guidance, inspiration, healing, etc.



  • The angels of the mountains, who are also called the stabilizers or the balancers. They prevent the mountains from shaking or collapsing.



  • The angels of the seas, who are also called the sailors or the navigators. They control the currents and waves of the oceans and seas.



  • The angels of the rivers, who are also called the irrigators or the fertilizers. They distribute water to different lands and regions.



  • The angels of the plants, who are also called the growers or the nurturers. They help plants grow and produce fruits and flowers.



  • The angels of the animals, who are also called the caretakers or the guardians. They look after animals and their needs.



The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells by Thomas Heywood




The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells was a book written by English author Thomas Heywood and first published in 1635. It detailed the hierarchy of angels accepted in Christian belief at the time, including their names, orders, and offices. It also covered the story of how Lucifer and other wicked angels were cast out of heaven. The book was based on various sources, such as the Bible, apocryphal books, mystical writings, classical authors, and medieval legends. The book was divided into three parts: the first part dealt with the creation and nature of angels, the second part described the nine orders and three hierarchies of angels according to Pseudo-Dionysius, and the third part narrated the fall of Lucifer and his followers. The book also included many illustrations, poems, songs, and dialogues that enriched its content and style.


The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells was one of the most comprehensive and influential works on angelology in English literature. It reflected Heywood's erudition and imagination, as well as his religious and artistic sensibilities. The book was widely read and admired by both scholars and laypeople, and it influenced many later writers and artists who dealt with the theme of angels. For example, John Milton drew on Heywood's book for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), which also depicted the war in heaven between God and Satan. The book also inspired many paintings and sculptures that portrayed angels in various forms and functions.


The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells was not only a literary masterpiece, but also a spiritual guide for its readers. It aimed to teach them about the nature and role of angels in God's plan for humanity, as well as to inspire them to emulate their virtues and avoid their vices. It also encouraged them to seek the intercession and protection of angels in their daily lives. The book was a testament to Heywood's faith and devotion, as well as his artistic talent and vision.


Conclusion




In this article, we have explored the concept of the hierarchy of angels, which is a ranking system of angels based on their power, authority, appearance, and function. We have also looked at how different religions and cultures have developed their own views on angels and their ranks, and how a 17th-century book by Thomas Heywood called The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells contributed to this topic. We have learned that angels are spiritual beings that serve as messengers, guardians, and helpers of God. They are also involved in various aspects of human and natural affairs, such as protection, guidance, inspiration, healing, judgment, etc. They are organized into different hierarchies or orders according to their closeness to God and their roles in his plan. They also have different names, features, and functions depending on their rank and mission.


We hope that this article has given you some insight into the fascinating world of angels and their hierarchy. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you can read Heywood's book or other sources that deal with angelology. You can also pray to God and ask him to send his angels to watch over you and your loved ones. You can also thank him for creating such wonderful creatures that reflect his glory and grace.


FAQs




  • What is the hierarchy of angels?



The hierarchy of angels is a ranking system of angels based on their power, authority, appearance, and function.


  • How many types of angels are there?



There is no definitive answer to this question, as different religions and cultures have different views on angels and their ranks. However, some common types of angels are seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, and angels.


  • Who is the highest angel?



Again, there is no definitive answer to this question, as different sources may give different names or titles to the highest angel. However, some possible candidates are Ruh (the spirit), Jibril (Gabriel), Michael (the leader of God's army), or Metatron (the scribe of God).


  • Who is Lucifer?



Lucifer is a fallen angel who rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven along with his followers. He is also known as Satan, the devil, the adversary, the accuser, the tempter, etc. He is the enemy of God and humanity, and he seeks to deceive, corrupt, and destroy them.


  • Are angels male or female?