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Posted July 1, 2010

Book: The Angelic Way: Angels through the Ages and their meaning for us
Author: Rami Shapiro
Blue Bridge, New York. 2009. Pp. 228

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Humankind has been fascinated with angels — and angel-like beings — for thousands of years; they are one of the greatest spiritual phenomena ever. Humans have a subtle intuition of the sacred, and angels symbolize the way to it. Thus we have always adored angesl and feared them, prayed to them and challenged them. Houses of worship were built and music composed to celebrate angels. Countless artists carved their images in stone and painted them in oil. And since ancient times people have spoken and written about angels, frm Zorastrian teachers and Jewish prophets like Ezekiel and Zechariah to the gospel authors of the New Testament. We are told of the cherubim stationed at the gate to the Garden of Eden, of Jacob wrestling with an angel, the archangel Gabriel visiting Mary, Michael the archangel fighting the dragon, and of the guardian angels of Islam watching over humans; but we also hear about the fallen angels like Satan, and the angel of death.

The Angelic Way illuminates the spiritual, philosophical, and psychological implications of angels, both heavenly and fallen, for readers and seekers of every faith or none. It offers an accessible history of angels in our varied religious cultural traditions, and exploration of angelology through the ages, and a means to make sense of angels and the divine in today’s world.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Satan as “intimate enemy” is found in Jesus’s rebuke of Peter in the Gospel of Matthew. “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Peter is appalled at the thought of this and rebukes Jesus. Jesus then turns to Peter and says, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.

Here Peter is still playing the role of the diabolos, the obstructer. He is not Satan per se, but articulating the satanic, the obstructive fear that arises within him at the thought of Jesus’s passion and death. But to call Peter Satan is new, and quite alien to the Hebrew Bible.

Something similar is revealed in the Gospel of Luke where we read about Judas’s betrayal of Jesus: “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them.

At first this may sound like Satan in the Chronicles story of David and the census, but looking closer it becomes clear that Satan possesses Judas in some way, and rahter than approaching Judas with the suggestion that he betray his teacher, actually takes over the body of Judas to do the betraying. Indeed, this passage in Luke maybe the first time in biblical literature that the notion appears that Satan can enter into a person and use the person for satanic ends.

Table of Contents:

1. Angels through the ages

2. Angelic imagination

3. Humans and angels

4. The archangels

5. Satan, the Fallen Angel

6. The angel of death

7. The ascended one

8. Lectio Divina and the angelic way