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Title: Pagan Angels in Greek Inscriptions: A Reconsideration of the Evidence
Contributor(s): Luxford, Jean Margery (author); Horsley, Gregory (supervisor); Stanton, Gregory  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2012
Copyright Date: 2012
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to test whether references to an angelos in a number of Greek inscriptions from Roman Asia Minor and elsewhere are influenced by early Hebrew and Jewish notions of the divine messenger, early Christian writings and thought, Classical Greek ideas, a combination of these, or none of them. An article by A.A.R. Sheppard a generation ago was the initial stimulus for this investigation. In Part A the three survey chapters deal first with the angelos appearances in Hebrew and Jewish literature, where its divine status and primary role of messenger are established. Pluralities of angels occur occasionally. Their role expands to that of guide, protector, interpreter, and revealer. The angelos continues to act as messenger in the NT and early Christian writings. It functions also as deliverer and instructor. The idea of evil spiritual powers is introduced. Christ is represented as an angel in some texts. In Classical Greek literature two gods are identified as messengers, Iris and Hermes. Of these, Hermes has greater profile, having other functions beside that of messenger; and he is seen as a cunning and inventive god. Part B is the heart of the thesis, where the relevant angelos inscriptions are introduced. Ten inscriptions (or related groups of them) are examined. The result of this investigation is that some inscriptions showed no external influence, the angelos who is acting as a divine messenger being indigenous. They showed no evidence of borrowing, with the possible exception of one which speaks of the 'angels of fire.' One group of texts appears to be Christian, but incorporates some pagan elements. One text may incorporate some non-standard Jewish ideas. Several of the inscriptions are decisively pagan. The result of our investigation is that there is indeed some attestation of angelic figures which reflect no influence of Christian or Jewish ideas; and because they are found generally in rural parts of Asia Minor, they cannot be claimed to reflect Classical Greek notions, except at most very indirectly. Accordingly, the thesis concludes that these epigraphic texts should definitely be classed as indigenous. Their small numbers, restricted in time and to and mostly to non-urban localities mainly in Western Asia Minor, all point to these 'pagan angels' being a phenomenon in the consciousness of villagers during the Roman Imperial period. Sheppard's thesis of Jewish influence on these epigraphic texts is to be dismissed.
Publication Type: Thesis Masters Research
Field of Research Codes: 210306 Classical Greek and Roman History
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
Rights Statement: Copyright 2012 - Jean Margery Luxford
HERDC Category Description: T1 Thesis - Masters Degree by Research
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