How many orders of angels were there?

seraphim-angelsI know some may consider this heretical but I have to wonder if the burning ones (seraphim), mighty ones (cherubim) and the living creatures (hayyot) referred to in the visionary experiences of the prophets are synonymous, not different ranks of angels (malakim) at all. Take for example Ezekial 10:15 where the living creatures and cherubim are explicitly identified with one another.

3 Comments

  1. I doubt that one can determine such a thing from one particular text.
    How much does it matter to us human beings?
    The ranks of angels is probably of more concern to angels than it is to us, and if you visit a country for the first time and see someone in a uniform, how well could you describe their rank?
    I’m reminded of the Tom Lehrer song, which said of the military training of a recruit that
    Its effects were so well rooted
    that the next day he saluted
    a Good Humor man, an usher, and a nun.
    And so, I imagine, most humans would react to the presence of angels of various ranks, even Ezekiel (Ezekial was Jerry Pournelle’s computer).

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  2. Yes, I am of a similar view. There is too little said to say too much of anything with certainty. I’ve seen a number of attempts to expound on the orders of angels, that of Pseudo-Dionysius being only one of them. They all seem largely arbitrary, and so to my mind, largely suspect. It’s for that reason I consider the efforts of esoteric Christians largely futile in this regard. What I am drawing attention to above is that the language itself seems to be fluid so that’s even more cause to be cautious.

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