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More Speculation About Angels
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Terry Law, The Truth About Angels
(Milton Keynes, UK:  Nelson Word Publishing,  1996, 247p;  Charisma House, 1996, 227p.)

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I thought a better title for this book would have been More Speculation about Angels.  Terry Law purports to lay out a full and correct view of angels, with only the Bible as the reference point.  What I found him actually doing was what I have seen in so many other books on this elusive topic:  he constructs a system to tie together various unrelated references to "messengers" in Old and New Testament passages.  What I found here was speculation based on Popular Theology posing as Exegesis.

External Sources
He gives little attention to cultural or textual context, and seems to assume that any reference of any kind that was translated, or might be translated with the English word "angel" is a related reference within some consistent common metaphysic across all the centuries and writers.  He uses the various references, many of which are only incidental or at best secondary to the point of a passage, to construct a system around some concept apparently derived from other assumptions and sources.

Law speculates pretty freely, building his system with liberal use of such words as probably, may be, appears to be, might have been, and so forth.  One thing he and other writers of similar tone seem not even to realize is that there is no direct teaching on "angels." Jesus does not present a treatise to teach us about angels.  Every time "angels" come up in the whole Bible, they are incidental or secondary.  Angels are never the subject, but angels may figure in the topic under discussion.

Popular Theology
Law falls back on the common view of popular cultural theology in the west, never seeming to really question what the various terms in biblical passages might be referring to, or whether the various passages represent the same concept.  He lumps them all together under his assumed concept and definition.

Many features of his metaphysical schema appear as early as the Book of Enoch, also known as 1 Enoch.  This work was written in Greek by Jewish sources about 150 years before the time of Christ, or perhaps earlier.  This work never became a part of an accepted canon of either Judaism or Chrisianity.

There are some indications this work was considered authoritative by the Qumran community.  One verse is also quoted by the New Testament book of Jude, but this does not necessarily mean that the writer of Jude considered it inspired in the sense of the Torah and other traditional Jewish sources.

The scenario of angels and demons and some other ideas of popoular culture never appear in the canonical Hebrew or Christian Scriptures. Law reads these modern cultural ideas, apparently influcenced by these legendary concepts from Enoch and its successors in the West, and imposes these views on some biblical passges.

Not Quite Science Fiction
I was tempted to classify this book as Science Fiction, as I would many books about the end-time in the premillennialism of Christian pop culture.  But Law includes a respectable serious review of all passages in the Bible that deal with what might be considered angels.  He also includes a brief historical summary of views in Western history.

It is also commendable that Law advises caution in considering some of the more modern sentimental, childish ideas of angels as our spirit-buddies, arising out of the New Age Movement.  He also provides a respectable collection of testimonials on personal experiences related to angels.  He superficially looks at these critically on the basis of a biblical view of angels.

Metaphysical Agenda
But this evaluation, while informative, and drawing upon a wide range of writers, is flawed by his assumption that there is some clear, consistent objective concept of angels underlying the disparate, unrelated references in the Bible.  He does not fully analyze the many biblical passages he references.  Law attempts to line out the clear metaphysic of relationships, hierarchies and ranks of angels in the spirit world.  This is where he sounds most like a Sci Fi writer, and where my patience grows thinnest.

He details distinctions between good and evil angels, with, of course, the angel called Satan at the top of the evil hierarchy.  He takes phrases — again from various writers in various periods of time and situations — like principalities, realms, domains, kingdoms, powers, etc., and arranges them into ranks in a hierarchy he considers a chain-of-command authority structure of angels!

Imposing Meanings
He further repeats the old misinterpretation drawn from popular medieval concepts and mistranslations to equate the term satan with the Latin word lucifer, and the Greek word devil (diabolos), as though they all meant basically the same thing.  There is no textual basis for claiming the Hebrew word, name or title translated in Latin as Lucifer, in Isaiah 14:12, has anything to do with a concept of a leader of evil angels, as we find in popular western cultural philosophy.

This Latin word is a translation of the Greek word eosforo (eosphoro), or fosforo (phosphoro), used to translate the Hebrew words meaning Morning Star, Bright One, or Shining One, or Light Bearer (literal meaning of the Greek), referring to the arrogance and pride of Nebuchadnezzar.

Ignoring Biblical Statements
He also declares that a similar passage in Ezekiel 28:12 is present the Garden of Eden.  Other writers have also simplistically referenced this verse to claim support for the story that Satan was thrown out of heaven.  The major problem is that the Ezekiel passage specifically addresses the King of Tyre, just as the former one addresses Nebuchadnezzar.

Can't Recommend It
This book is a good venture in entertaining light reading, as one more writer's speculations on what might be behind our ideas about "angels."  But don't consider it as a definitive resource for any serious study of the topic.  And it shouldn't be considered Bible Study.

Ironically, while Law proposes his comments as expressiongs of "what the Bible teaches," the way he treats the various biblical texts shows little practical respect for the actual texts of the Bible.  He feels free pulling them out of context, skewing words into a modern worldview context, ignoring the cultural context of the original.

Law then takes the liberty to recast them so they fit his scenario, and — in a common feature of modern millennial writing — he reorganzies passages from various parts of the Bible into a new-format text to "support" his scenario.  It is hard for me to take such disrespect for a holy text that so many millions over the centuries have built their life on.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[Review] 1 Enoch
[review] An Adventure in Christian Science Fiction
[TXT] The Book of Enoch the Prophet
[TXT] Death, Demons and a Second Chance
[Review] More about More Speculation
[TXT] Principalities and Powers:  Notes On Demonic Hierarchies

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First written and posted on Amazon.Com 19 June 2006
Updated 16 August 2006
Posted on Thoughts and Resources 9 September 2006
Last updated 10 June 2009

Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.   Other rights reserved.

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