Fallen angel

Fallen angel
Statue of the Fallen Angel, Retiro Park (Madrid, Spain).

Fallen angel is a concept developed in Jewish mythology from interpretation of the Book of Enoch.[1] The actual term fallen angel is not found in either the Hebrew Bible[2] or the New Testament. Christians adopted the concept of fallen angels[1] mainly based on their interpretations of the Book of Revelation Chapter 12.[2] Fallen angels are identified with the Watchers,[3] as well as the angels who are cast down to the earth from the War in Heaven, and ha-satan.[2]


Allusions to fallen angels

The Watchers

The mention of the "sons of God" in Genesis 6:2 ("The sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose") has sometimes been interpreted, both in Judaism and in Christianity, as a reference to fallen angels.

The pre-Christian apocryphal Book of Enoch recounts that a group of 200 rebellious angels, or Watchers, left heaven and came down to Earth to marry human women and have children with them.[4]

Angels cast to earth

In the New Testament, Revelation 12:3-4 refers to the dragon’s tail that drew a third part of the stars of heaven. In verses 7-9, The Dragon and his angels battle against Michael the Archangel in a War in Heaven. Losing the battle, they are “cast out” of heaven to the earth. Thus, amongst Christians, fallen angels have been associated with the term “cast out”.[2][5]

Fall of ha-satan

An explicit reference to a "fall" is found in Luke 10:18, often read as concerning the "fall" of Satan himself, although the New Testament never explicitly identifies Satan himself as an "angel".[6] According to Ben Witherington, the translation "fall from heaven, like lightning" or "fall, like lightning from heaven" is disputed. The question remains as to what the phrase "from heaven" modifies— Satan's fall, or "like lightning." If it modifies "like lightning," then we may not be told from where Satan fell. Yet even if we translate, "I saw Satan fall, like lightning from heaven," it could still be implied that Satan's fall is from the same place from which.. "[7]

Fall of Lucifer

From the 5th Century CE, literature develops about Lucifer (Latin for Morning Star), a name frequently attributed to the Devil in Christian belief. This usage stems from a particular interpretation of Isaiah 14:3-20, by Origen and others,[8] Some see the passage as using this name to describe the king of Babylon, who had exalted himself as being deity himself, after which God would cast him down. Similar terminology is used in Ezekiel to describe the king of Tyre. The Greek word used in the Septuagint of Isaiah 14;12 is Ἑωσφόρος (Heosphoros, "dawn-bearer"),[9][10][11] not φωσφόρος, the etymological synonym of Latin lucifer,[12][13] used in 2 Peter 1:19 of the morning star, which is mentioned also elsewhere in the Bible with no reference to Satan.

Other religious views


The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of "the fall of the angels" not in spatial terms but as a radical and irrevocable rejection of God and his reign by some angels who, though created as good beings, freely chose evil, their sin being unforgivable because of the irrevocable character of their choice, not because of any defect in the infinite divine mercy.[14]


19th-century Universalists such as Thomas Allin (1891)[15] claimed that Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Gregory of Nyssa taught that even the Devil and fallen angels will eventually be saved.[16]


The Unitarian Joseph Priestley suggested that the passages refer to Korah.[17] William Graham (1772) suggested that it referred to the spies in Canaan.[18] These passages are generally held today to be commentary, either positive or neutral or negative, on Jewish traditions concerning Enoch circulating in the Early Church.[19]


The Quran mentions angels (malak ملاك) around ninety times, usually in the plural and referring to obedient angels.

The Quran states that Satan was a Jinn (as in Islam, angels do not have free will and act only as instruments of Allah) though he is addressed with the angels in verses (2:34,[20] 7:11, 15:29, 17:61, 18:50, 20:116, 38:71) prior to his fall. Satan (also called Iblis from Greek diabolos, "the devil") rebelled and was banished on earth, and he vowed to create mischief on earth after being given respite by Allah till the Day of Judgment, according to verses (80-85:38).[21] Apparently Jinns, like humans, have a choice about which side to be on, and will be judged on the last day.

Harut and Marut (Arabic: هاروت وماروت‎) are two angels sent to test the people of Babylon. That there are fallen angels is not in the Quran and the Qur'an explicitly states angels have no free will, but are like appendages of Allah.[22][23]


In literature, John Milton's Paradise Lost (7.131-134, etc.), refers to Satan as being "brighter once amidst the host of Angels, than the sun amidst the stars."[24]


  1. ^ a b Reed 2005, p. 2
  2. ^ a b c d Davidson 1994, p. 111
  3. ^ Reed 2005, p. 1
  4. ^ Charlesworth Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Vol.1 Doubleday
  5. ^ Early Christian thought in its Jewish context p 67 ed. John M. G. Barclay, Morna Dorothy Hooker, John Philip McMurdo Sweet - 1996
  6. ^ Philip Edgcumbe Hughes Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians 1962 "Nothing could be more incongruous, therefore, than for Satan to pose as an angel of light"
  7. ^ Ben Witherington. The christology of Jesus 1990
  8. ^ Russell, Jeffrey (1981). Satan. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801494133. [page needed] "A great deal of the vivid elaboration of legend and literature on the Devil's nature arises from Origen's initiative in using these texts.61 The angels fell in the beginning along with Satan, and for the same reason, pride."
  9. ^ Septuagint Book of Isaiah
  10. ^ Isaiah 14 LXX
  11. ^ "Lucifer" in Isaiah 14:12-17
  12. ^ ScriptureText.com
  13. ^ φωσφόρος Etymonline.com
  14. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The Fall of the Angels" (391-395)
  15. ^ Allin, Thomas (1891). Christ Triumphant or Universalism Asserted as the Hope of the Gospel on the Authority of Reason, the Fathers, and Holy Scripture. http://www.tlchrist.info/tallin.htm. [page needed]
  16. ^ Itter on Clement, Crouzel & Norris on Origen, etc.
  17. ^ The theological and miscellaneous works of Joseph Priestley, Vol.2
  18. ^ William Graham, An enquiry into the scripture meaning of the word Satan, and its synonimous terms, the devil, or the adversary, and the wicked one. Wherein the notions concerning devils or demons are brought... MA 8vo. is. 6d. Johnson. 1772
  19. ^ The Jewish apocalyptic heritage in early Christianity p 66 ed. James C. VanderKam, William Adler - 1996 "... who would not bring forth fruit to God. since the angels that sinned had commingled with them. ... 206 The translation is from Bauckham, "The Fall of the Angels', 320. 207 'Enoch says that the angels who transgressed taught mankind "
  20. ^ Iblis became Satan: "Behold! We said to the Angels, 'Bow down to Adam': they bowed down except Iblis. He was One of the Jinns, beings born of Fire, making Iblis think he was superior to a being born of Earth, and he broke the Command of his Lord....(Koran, 18:50)"
  21. ^ Jeffrey Burton Russell Lucifer, the Devil in the Middle Ages chapter 'The Muslim Devil' p55
  22. ^ مصباح المنير في تهذيب تفسير إبن كثير Ismāʻīl ibn ʻUmar Ibn Kathīr, Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al Mubarakpuri, Ṣafī al-Raḥmān Mubārakfūrī / The Meaning And Explanation Of The Glorious Qur'an: 1-203 Muhammad Saed Abdul-Rahman "The Story of Harut and Marut, and the Explanation that They were Angels Allah said, (And such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they.."
  23. ^ Jan Knappert Islamic legends: histories of the heroes, saints and prophets of Islam 1985 p59 "Harut and Marut - When the Prophet Idris (sometimes identified with Enoch) entered Paradise after his long life on earth, it is said that he was met by two naughty angels, whose names were Azaya or 'Uzza and 'Aza'il."
  24. ^ Online-Literature.com


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

Further reading

  • Ashley, Leonard. The Complete Book of Devils and Demons Barricade Books. ISBN 1-56980-077-4
  • Bamberger, Bernard Jacob, (March 15, 2006). Fallen Angels: Soldiers of Satan's Realm, 300pp. ISBN 0-8276-0797-0
  • Davidson, Gustav, 1994. A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-907052-X

External links

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