Saturday, April 24, 2010

Angels & Demons 5: What Law Did the Angels Break?


Fallen Angel Stories are typically justified on the basis of some perceived Law that the angels broke. Look through the Ten Commandments. Do you see any commandment targeted at angels? I do not. The Law was given to humans, not angels. But, even so, let’s consider whether angels could have been guilty of breaking one of these Laws:

1. “You shall have no other gods.” Angels supposedly know the truth . . . that there ARE NO OTHER GODS, right? I suppose that if Persian Dualism were accepted, there would be one other god—the evil god. That’s what “dualism” means: that there are TWO gods—one good and one evil. By the time Jesus was born, however, Judaism was apprehensive about the dualistic implications involved in the fallen angel theme. If Greek theology were accepted, there would be dozens of gods—all marrying each other and having sexual relations with humans and having offspring—both divine and human. After toying with these polytheistic (multiple gods) ideas for nearly 400 years, Jewish teachers were determined to fight against them. If believers today are determined to resurrect these Persian and Greek theologies, they may themselves be guilty of breaking the first commandment, but did angels break this commandment?

2. “Do not make graven idols.” No angel stories tell of any angel making an idol.

3. “Do not take my name in vain.” In a non-inspired angel story from the time period of the New Testament, angels knew the name of God and knew the power of pronouncing his name. The story suggests that pronouncing his name brings one to the very throne of God. To keep humans from taking his name “in vain” (i.e., using it in an empty way), the Jews hid the pronunciation. “Jehovah” is NOT the pronunciation of his name. The Jews “wrote” his name, but only used the consonants of his name: YHWH. They inserted vowels, but these vowels were not the vowels from his name; they were the vowels to the word “Adonai.” Adonai is translated “Lord.” When you take the vowels from Adonai and insert them in the consonants from YHWH, the result is the word Yahowah (or Jehovah). The letters Y and J are interchangeable, as are the letters W and V. Anyone who knows the German language, for example, knows that the German expression for yes (Ja wohl) is actually pronounced “Yah Vohl.” Hence, Yahowah becomes Jehovah. Actually, the Jews never pronounced this composite word. They pronounced only the word Adonai (Lord), so that they would not take “The Lord’s name” in vain. When you read your English version of the Old Testament, and find the word “Lord,” what is actually written in the Hebrew text is the word YHWH. It is unpronounceable, because the Jews were helping you avoid breaking this commandment. (Incidentally, even the popular pronunciation of this word today—Yahweh—is almost certainly incorrect. It is still very difficult for you to violate this commandment.) Nevertheless, there are NO angel stories that tell of an angel taking the name of the Lord in vain.

4. “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.” No angel stories tell of any angel breaking the Sabbath.

5. “Honor your father and mother.” Angels don’t have mothers. While Jesus teaches humans to address God as “Our Father in heaven,” and while God calls humans his children, angels do not seem to share in that intimacy. It is true that angels were called “sons of God” in the Book of Job, but no one seriously contends that angels are the offspring of God in any parent-child sense. Ultimately, no angel stories every accuse angels of failing to honor their “father.”

6. “Do not kill.” Fallen Angel Stories do not portray the angels as murderers. John’s gospel, on the other hand, quotes Jesus responding to certain Jews who were seeking a way to kill him (8:37-44): “You have the devil for your father and you wish to practice the desires of your father; he was a slayer of men from the beginning, and he could not stay in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks according to his nature; for he is a liar and the father of liars.” Jesus was probably referring to the devil’s roles as tempter/tester and executioner. Hebrews 2:14 speaks of Jesus as neutralizing the one who wields the power of death, namely the devil. The first time the term Satan appears in the Bible is in the Book of Job, where Satan not only tests Job but also KILLS his wife and children. God restricts his power so that he cannot KILL Job himself, because Job is righteous. For those of us who are not as righteous as Job, Satan does indeed pose the threat of death. But, is this killing of humans a sin? Is Satan breaking the Law by killing men? Not if we deserve it. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. Romans 3:23 says all have sinned. In my previous commentary, I observed: “I Timothy 1:20 says that Paul surrendered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan, so that they might be disciplined. In a similar vein, I Corinthians 5:5 has Paul counseling the church to hand over a fornicator to Satan so that Satan can destroy the fornicator’s ‘flesh,’ in order that the fornicator’s ‘spirit’ might be SAVED.” Ultimately, however, Jesus came to rid mankind of the various “roles” of Satan. Revelation 12 introduces the Fall of Satan as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice. Satan can no longer “accuse” the brothers in the heavenly courts, because they are forgiven. However, Revelation does not assert that “accusing the brothers” was a sin; it was Satan’s job in Heaven, just as punishing and executing sinners on Earth was. Revelation 20 begins by further subjugating Satan: he is bound and thrown into the Abyss. Revelation 20 ends (at least 1000 years later) by casting the devil into the Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death. At that point, Satan will be gone—but not because he sinned. He will be gone because there will no longer be a need for any of his roles—tempter/tester, accuser/prosecuting attorney, punisher/executioner, or raiser of world empires.

7. “Do not commit adultery.” Adultery consists of having sexual relations with someone else’s wife or husband. Having sex with one’s own wife or husband is not a sin. Even if Genesis 6 were correctly interpreted as suggesting that angels married human women, would that be a sin? We don’t know of any commandments given to angels not to marry humans, and the term “marry” is definitely in the Genesis 6 passage. Whoever the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 are, they are not raping the “daughters of men” or having sex with them outside the bonds of marriage. They are “marrying” them. Since this is the most significant version of the Fallen Angel Story in the Greek period, we will return to the issue of angels having sex with humans in a future commentary. Jesus seems to suggest that it is impossible. But, for now, we are just considering what Law angels may have broken. We do not know of any Law against marrying human women.

8. “Do not steal.” If, as I discussed in “Angels & Demons 2: The ‘Prometheus’ Connection,” Azazel and the fallen angels had (like Prometheus) STOLEN fire and cultural arts from God, they might be accused of breaking this commandment. However, I Enoch 65:6-7 speaks of the angel’s secrets that were passed on to humans, including sorcery, incantations, and working with melted metals such as silver, lead, and tin—but never accuses the angels of STEALING such things. Furthermore, this Fallen Angel Story of bringing culture to humans is not found anywhere in the New Testament. I surmise, therefore, that this is ALSO NOT a Law broken by angels.

9. “Do not bear false witness.” This is a tough one, but it never shows up in Fallen Angel Stories. As I mentioned when discussing “Do not kill,” John’s gospel quotes Jesus (8:44): “You have the devil for your father and you wish to practice the desires of your father; . . . he could not stay in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks according to his nature; for he is a liar and the father of liars.” As I also mentioned, Jesus is probably referring to Satan’s role as a tempter. If as the New Testament asserts, the serpent of Genesis is actually Satan, it is clear that he lies. He said, “You shall not surely die.” The serpent was, as a result of his act, cursed: the offspring of woman will eventually crush his head. Is this, then, the Law broken by an angel that could result in a Fallen Angel Story? It has possibilities, but, strangely enough, the Fallen Angel Stories do not make that much out of it. Jesus mentions that Satan is a man killer and a liar, but when Satan is cast out of Heaven in Revelation 12, it seems to have happened because there was no longer any room for him in Heaven. Why wait until Jesus’ sacrifice to cast him out, if he has been a liar from the beginning? Even though Revelation calls him the “deceiver of all humanity,” one wonders if his deceit simply amounts to something like putting a False statement in a True-False test. Yes, it is a lie, but the student is being tested to see if s/he recognizes it as such. Am I sinning when I give my students True-False tests?

10. “Do not covet.” Unless it was connected to the commandment “Do not commit adultery,” no Fallen Angel Stories seem to claim that this specific Law was broken by angels. Even if connected to the sexual angel story, there seems to be no indication that the women whom the angels married belonged to someone else. Hence, the Law against coveting does not apply.

Why did we consider whether angels broke any of the Ten Commandments? Because, some sort of justification is needed for a Fallen Angel Story. Usually, that justification is found in some perceived “sin” of the angels. In my next commentary, I will relate to you a story. This is a fictional story, but it was written about the time of the New Testament. It tells of fallen angels who DID NOT SIN, but fell anyway. It attempts to justify a Fallen Angel Story without claiming a sin on the part of the angels. Why do you think that might be?

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