Photo of angel and blades of garden grass in Palm Coast, Florida (2014). This was shot shortly after a Florida afternoon thunderstorm.
An angel is a supernatural being or spirit, often depicted in humanoid form with feathered wings on their backs and halos around their heads, found in various religions and mythologies.
The theological study of angels is known as “angelology”. In Zoroastrianism and Abrahamic religions they are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between Heaven and Earth, or as guardian spirits or a guiding influence.
The term “angel” has also been expanded to various notions of spirits found in many other religious traditions. Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God’s tasks.
In art, angels are often depicted with bird-like wings on their back, a halo, robes and various forms of glowing light.
The word angel in English is a blend of Old English engel (with a hard g) and Old French angele. Both derive from Late Latin angelus “messenger of God,” which in turn was borrowed from Late Greek ἄγγελος ángelos. According to R. S. P. Beekes, ángelos itself may be “an Oriental loan, like ἄγγαρος [“Persian mounted courier”].” The word’s earliest form is Mycenaean a-ke-ro attested in Linear B syllabic script.
The ángelos is the default Septuagint’s translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mal’ākh denoting simply ‘messenger’ without specifying its nature. In the Latin Vulgate however the meaning becomes bifurcated: when mal’ākh or ángelos is supposed to denote a human messenger, words like nuntius or legatus are applied. If the word refers to some supernatural being – the word angelus appears. Such differentiation has been taken over by later vernacular translations of the Bible, early Christian and Jewish exegetes and eventually modern scholars.