Ineffable, invisible, inscrutable—angels are enduring creatures across Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and human experiences of the divine as mediated by spiritual emissaries are an aspect of almost every religious tradition. In popular culture, angels are often reduced to the most gauzy, sentimental, and saccharine of images: fat babies with wings and guardians with robes, halos, and harps. By contrast, in scripture whenever one of the heavenly choirs appears before a prophet or patriarch, they first declare “Fear not!” for terror would be the most appropriate initial reaction to these otherworldly beings. Angels are often not what we’d expect, but it’s precisely in that transcendent encounter that something of the strangeness of existence can be conveyed. Elysium: A Visual History of Angelology is a follow-up volume to Pandemonium: A Visual History of Demonology, and like the earlier title, this book offers an account of the angelic hierarchies as they’ve been understood across centuries and cultures and of the individual personages, such as the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Uriel, who have marked the mythology of the West.
hardcover, colour illustrations