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Rodolfo Martínez




Location: Argentina
Joined: 30 Nov 2006

Posts: 347

PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 1:20 pm    Post subject: Weapons and armours in Biblical angels.         Reply with quote

Hello people,
I was thinking about How many paintings have a Saint Michael wielding sword and wearing armour and i was thinking, From where, artists took the idea of armored angels and so on, since the book of the Revelations do not depicts any angel wearing such gear. (Even, there is a Choir named ¨Powers¨ who are depicted in such way)

I know it may be simbolic, but...

Another thing i was thinking was, God puts a guardian Cherubim in Eden, wielding a flammard-ish fire sword, Do you know if it could be inspired in any weapon of that era?

Thanks.

¨Sólo me desenvainarás por honor y nunca me envainarás sin gloria¨
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David McElrea




Location: Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 2:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Rudolfo,

The images you see are derived from the "war in heaven" language found throughout Scripture. I don't think the artists in question necessarily thought the angels were wearing literal armor of steel (for example); rather there was an analogical principle that they were drawing out. The key for the artists is, humanity exists within the context of a great cosmic warfare that extends beyond the human sphere. The angelic accouterments present that reality in a way that we, as embodied beings, can understand.

In re: the Edenic Churubim, the imagery of the "flammard", it is taken from late medieval art. The Bibilcal text simply describes it as "herem" of fire, which can be translated "sword", "weapon" or "destroyer". The biblical writer was more intent on the reader understanding that re-entry into Eden was now blocked than he was in describing the details of the angelic sword. If we were going to do it today, it might look like a light sabre. Big Grin

Hope it helps,
David
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B. Stark
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Location: ORYGUN
Joined: 25 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I can recall there is no Biblical referrence to angels wearing armor. Artistic license of the those creators of the art in question. Being that angels are described as being powerful as they are, armor would likely be superfluous to such a being. Instantaneously being able to shift thru time and space. Striking dead those who attack them or they are called to strike dead, blinding multiple enemies and so on.

The sword also is an emblem of authority, justice, and irresistable power. Hence the Garden angel.

"Wyrd bi∂ ful arćd"

Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense?

Patrick Henry
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Rodolfo Martínez




Location: Argentina
Joined: 30 Nov 2006

Posts: 347

PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 8:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

MMM... a Jedi angel....Laughing Out Loud interesting....

I know that it is simbolic, but some artists, li Durer, engraved them as depicted in the Bible (If no, see the Revelation´s angel with towers instead of legs) So, i was wondering if any other artist was Biblically accurate.

Do you think that the armour or the shield could represent Faith?
I don´t know.

Thaks

¨Sólo me desenvainarás por honor y nunca me envainarás sin gloria¨
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David McElrea




Location: Canada
Joined: 26 Nov 2003

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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Rudolfo,

St. Paul, in Ephesians 6, did use the imagery of arms and armor, including the shield of faith, to instruct Christians regarding their part in the heavenly conflict. As to whether the artists may have carried that theme over to angels or not, I don't know. I suspect the only way anyone could know is if the artist in question kept a journal.

I think Mr. Stark is right in saying it is artistic license. If you were a 16th c. (or 12th c.) artist and you wanted to visually portray the conflict of Rev 12, how would you do it? You'd make the angels look like warriors, which means giving them suitably impressive arms and armor. I don't think it comes down to anything more than that.
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Rodolfo Martínez




Location: Argentina
Joined: 30 Nov 2006

Posts: 347

PostPosted: Mon 31 Mar, 2008 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with you David about Saint Michael, since he is depicted fighting in the Revelations, and in other books, he is imagined as a soldier, but isn´t the equipment of an Angel a symbol of its message too?
because, as Mr. Stark said, even swords, and tunics, and even a human form is superfluous.
Isn´t the armour supposed to represent Faith, or truth, the sword justice, and all? At least, for the Orthodox Byzantine Church?

Thanks.

¨Sólo me desenvainarás por honor y nunca me envainarás sin gloria¨
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Tim May




Location: Annapolis, MD
Joined: 12 Nov 2006

Posts: 108

PostPosted: Mon 31 Mar, 2008 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

B. Stark wrote:
As far as I can recall there is no Biblical referrence to angels wearing armor. Artistic license of the those creators of the art in question. Being that angels are described as being powerful as they are, armor would likely be superfluous to such a being. Instantaneously being able to shift thru time and space. Striking dead those who attack them or they are called to strike dead, blinding multiple enemies and so on.

The sword also is an emblem of authority, justice, and irresistable power. Hence the Garden angel.


While not a biblical reference, Milton does describe Satan's armor in Book I of Paradise Lost. This is, however, as he says "relating the ways of God to man," making it understandable to us, as was previously mentioned. I don't have it on hand, but it is quite similar to Homer's account of Achilles' regalia in the Illiad. I haven't had much instruction in art history but I know that Milton certainly did have quite an effect on the conceptions of the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve at the time, so I would not be surprised if his description of Satan and the battle of Heav'n and Hell in Book VI did not impact art of the time.
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David McElrea




Location: Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 31 Mar, 2008 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Spot on, Tim. I think men such as Dante, Milton and Bunyan had a tremendous influence on the way their contemporaries (and many who came after) perceived things. Allegory and physical representation go hand in hand.

Rudolfo, there is a great history of symbolism attached to arms and armor. In the biblical context, when employed metaphorically, the sword has typically been used to signify judgment-- which is also a facet of Divine Justice, Protection, and, (especially in the New Testament) as an image of God's powerful Word.

God himself is described (again, obviously metaphorically) as putting on armor in Isaiah 59:17-18, and this is the imagery that Paul later picks up on and applies to Christians in Ephesians 6:10-18. Their warfare against the "spiritual forces of darkness" is carried out through God's own resources. It is fluid throughout the Bible, though, as you will see if you compare the above passages to 1 Thessalonians 5:8; that's what makes it hard to say "this is symbolic of that." It is metaphor and not a 1:1 correspondence.

What does this mean, in re: angels? Not much, necessarily. Early painters may have had a degree of symbolism in the back of their minds, possibly, but, their main intent was not to communicate something metaphorical; rather they were communicating something literal, something that was continually being acted out in history, but outside of normal human perception. The only way to communicate this is on canvas is to give the angels forms and accoutrement. As such, the arms and armor we see in the paintings might tell us quite a bit about the arms and armor of the artists contemporaries, but it won't tell us much about angelic armor.

As to the Byzantine Tradition holding a key to your question-- I cannot say.

Take care,

David
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Rodolfo Martínez




Location: Argentina
Joined: 30 Nov 2006

Posts: 347

PostPosted: Thu 03 Apr, 2008 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for your answer Mr. Elrea.

Do you know something about the miracle in Antioch, of the celestial host helping the crusaders, after finding Longinus´ spear?

¨Sólo me desenvainarás por honor y nunca me envainarás sin gloria¨
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