General Question

AstroChuck's avatar

Where does it say that angels have wings?

Asked by AstroChuck (37268points) November 22nd, 2008

First off, PLEASE don’t turn this into a debate on religion. I personally don’t believe in God, nor do I believe in angels. If you do, that’s fine.
What I would like to know is how it came to be that angels are depicted with white feathered wings when (at least to my knowledge) there is nothing in the Bible or the Koran that makes reference to that. Were there other religions outside of the Judeo-Christian/Islam faiths that may have borrowed from the idea had angels with wings?

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38 Answers

cdwccrn's avatar

Check the book of revelation.

AstroChuck's avatar

Where in Revelations? I only see a reference to the “four beasts had each of them six wings…”

loser's avatar

My Mom said! Wings are cool! Just like airplanes!!!

squirbel's avatar

There are Bible studies that debunk the wing theory.

Also, the Bible does not describe angels as being human-form. There are cherubim who are described as such.

SoapChef's avatar

Right next to where it says Santa has eight tiny reindeer.

AstroChuck's avatar

Great link, squirbel. Thanks.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Angels make me think of Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle, which contains seraphim and nephilim. There are also cheribim… (I looked up angels after I read the book)

“Isaiah 6:2–4 records, “Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” Seraphs are angels that worship God continually.”

“Genesis Chapter 6, verses 1 through 4 describe the origin of the Nephilim:
“Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”

“Chapters 1 and 10 of the book of Ezekiel describe the “four living creatures” (Ezekiel 1:5) as the same beings as the cherubim (Ezekiel 10). Each had four faces – that of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10; also 10:14) – and each had four wings. In their appearance, the cherubim “had the likeness of a man” (Ezekiel 1:5). These cherubim used two of their wings for flying and the other two for covering their bodies (Ezekiel 1:6,11,23). Under their wings the cherubim appeared to have the form, or likeness, of a man’s hand (Ezekiel 1:8; 10:7–8,21).”

squirbel's avatar

Cherubim and Seraphs are distinct beings from angels.

Knotmyday's avatar

“Angels” in the sense of messengers from god were never described as having wings. They were descibed as scary as heck, though.

AstroChuck's avatar

So then, where did that notion come from?

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I think cherubim, seraphs and nephilim are types of angels. Nephilim are fallen angels.

squirbel's avatar

Catholic leaders. They tend to create notions and traditions.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Catholics and Jewish bibles—the guys that wrote the original documents.

squirbel's avatar

Jews did not describe angels with wings. Nor did they provide paintings and imagery that purported this idea.

I took Hebrew in college. Challenge me.

Knotmyday's avatar

Apparently, even Christians have no idea.
The article does present the aguments against, though.

squirbel's avatar

“Have no idea” is derogatory. I am a Christian, and I am certain that wings are a lot of hooey. Nowhere in the Bible are wings on an angel mentioned.

Knotmyday's avatar

Not derogatory, just fact. The question concerns the origin of winged angels. Here’s a minimal wiki concerning the depiction of angels in art, which presents the point that winged humanoids from the gods populate other mythologies as well.

Elumas's avatar

No proof here, but my guess is that as angels are messangers and in mythology Hermes has wings… Maybe it was taken on as a tradition. (yes I know they were wing shoes) It’s happened before putting trees in ones home was a pagan tradition.

jholler's avatar

…I learn something new every day…

So, what are the creatures mentioned in Zechariah 9:5? I think they’re the only female angelic creatures mentioned, aren’t they?

“Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.”

Knotmyday's avatar

ooo, good one. that might be it

jholler's avatar

That wasn’t argumentative, btw…I got it from one of the links squirbel posted, and it raised an interesting sidebar…why are all (with the exception of this passage) angels men?

Great question!

asmonet's avatar

Aren’t some angels made entirely of like 12 wings total? I can’t remember, one of the choirs (seraphim) or something is made of all feathers and like a pair of eyes. That, or my priest was on some serious druggage.

EDIT: Oh yeah, nvm already noted up top.

aidje's avatar

The cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant are also worth mentioning here.

Zuma's avatar

Winged angels aren’t a Christian idea at all. In fact, the oldest depiction of a winged human motif dates from Sumerian society, which flourished around 3,000 BC in what would be present day Iraq.

“The religion of these people was complex, embracing a wide variety of spirits and gods, but of particular interest was their belief in ‘messengers of the gods’, angelic forces who ran errands between gods and humans.”

“The Sumerians also believed that each person had a ‘ghost’ of some sort (that we would now probably label as ‘guardian angel’) with this entity remaining a constant companion for a person throughout their life. Altars that appear to be dedicated to guardian angels have been found in the excavations of ancient Sumerian homes, along with stone engravings and temple wall paintings of human figures with wings.”

“After the polytheistic Semitic tribes had conquered the Sumerians around 1900 BC their mythical cosmology borrowed the notion of angels from the vanquished Sumerians. These Semitic peoples developed the idea of a corpus of angels split into groupings answerable to each of the many Semitic gods, further subdividing these groups into vertical ‘ranked’ hierarchies, a notion which persisted into Zoroastrianism and monotheistic Judaism…” citation

By the way, there are quite a number of things we think of as uniquely Christian which are actually imports from earlier religions. For example, the ideas of an immortal soul, the phrase “everlasting life,” and an afterlife appear to be Greek in origin. The idea of an afterlife does not appear in Jewish thought until the Book of the Maccabees, but is not widely accepted until Alexander the Great conquered the Israel.

The ideas of a Divine Father and a Divine Son, the Garden of Eden, the concept of the first created humans Adam and Eve, the Resurrection, an apocalyptic final confrontation between Good and Evil, the Day of Reckoning, Heaven, Hell, devils and angels, the belief in a Messiah, are all imports from Zoroastrianism, which flourished all throughout Persia at least a millennium before the Old Testament.

Zoroastrianism was an offshoot of the same religion as Mithraism; which also had a Messiah; who was born of a Virgin on December 25; who performed miracles; had Twelve followers; was killed and resurrected after 3 days; who was regarded as Mankind’s savior; referred to as the Light of the World, and the Lamb of God. The concept of saints depicted with halos of light were also Mithraist in origin. In fact, the idea of a crown is based on the halo, whose reflected light is intended to depict the favor of Mithra, the sun god.

Tantigirl's avatar

AlfredaPrufrock – the original documents have never been found and have most likely not survived, there can be no way of really knowing what was in them.

delirium's avatar

According to Dante, Satan had six wings.

Knotmyday's avatar

and a really cool house

BoyWonder's avatar

If you don’t believe in angels, what the hell do you care???

Tantigirl's avatar

Why does he have to care? What happened here is an interesting conversation and debate. You know, one of the big things that fluther and flutherites are good at.

jholler's avatar

Don’t feed the troll.

BoyWonder's avatar

Just sounds pointless to even wonder about angels’ wings if u don’t even believe in angels. It’s like saying, ” I don’t believe in the tooth fairy, but did she ever have a wand?”

@jholler: Don’t worry we won’t feed you anymore, we promise.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

speaking of serious druggage, I think that Ezekiel character was smoking some funny shit when he wrote his book of the bible, some of his descriptions defy even my best LSD trips from the early 80’s.

asmonet's avatar

@Boy: An intellectual interest in a subject is not dependent on your beliefs. I’m no longer Catholic but I’m still fascinated by theology. They are not mutually exclusive.

lifecoachshirkey's avatar

Angels are no respectors of persons, places, or things therefore they serve the collective whole of humanity. No matter what, everyone has Angels even if you don’t believe in them. Best of all they do not belong to any religion but seem to be accepted more easily by the church goer because angels are frequently taught.


kitty's avatar

angels are male why ,Because God is male and Jesus . The sons of man(angels) As for the wings, there is a debate to that .But what is really important is that the angels do the will of God and answer your prayer according to God’s will for you(meaning if you know Him or not) It is written that we are not to worship them(angles) One spoke to john and told him not to worship him for he is a servent of God too. Just a step above humans. So if they have wings or not does not make or break day we will all find out even if you dont believe in them or God . it wont change a thing. Also “God” is not a respector of persons,not angles. :)

sapark's avatar

Angels are actually scapegoats, sacrifices made in the name of a god, the real reason being to intimidate people. Sacrifices were made of goats and men, thrown off a cliff, Mount Azazel. The goats and men were labeled sinful, evil, blamed for everything bad, and here you have the creation of a devil as a cloven hooved evil being, a combination of man and goat.

Also here is the creation of the fallen angel, the innocent man fallen (actually pushed) off the cliff, and wings given to save him. This is also where the terms “fall guy” and “take the fall” come from, as they mean take the blame and become scapegoats and sacrifices.

Incidentally, the phrase “Go to hell,” originally is “Go to Azazel,” translated to mean go to your death at Mount Azazel; presumably hell means death and heaven means life, as in to fall from the heavens being to fall to your death.

JustmeAman's avatar

Angels are just spirits. There are those that have lived before and passed on and are Angels and there are those that have not yet gained a mortal body. It is just a name describing a being. Michael the Archangel is Adam of Adam and Eve. Gabriel is the person Noah that lived before. We are angels ourselves but reside in a mortal body at this time.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Only the Seraphim have wings… Lots of um too.

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