Do Angels really have wings?

Early Christian Art did not depict angels with wings. Often angels were not shown in human form at all but instead were illustrated as doves or even as the hand of God.

It would seem that the whole idea of showing angels with wings is simply a device in Art, especially in painting, so that the observer could distinguish between the earthly and celestial figures depicted.

It was after the Roman Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD that angels were commonly shown as having wings in all forms of Art. This is not surprising for most observers of early art were illiterate so the symbolic use of wings and other images to denote spiritual or godly persons was a key element in reading the story in the painting. Haloes were used to depict holy people.

If you think about it, why would angels, who are spirit beings and therefore not subject to the elements of the universe, and in particular gravity, need wings to enable them to move. Angels after all are spirit beings and are not subject to ordinary matter as we mortals are.

When angels appear in scripture they are generally described as men, as in the passage in Genesis 18 where Abraham welcomes three angelic travelers. Later we read of two angels visiting Sodom and the people there assume them to be human.

Ancient gods of Babylonia and Egypt and other pagan deities often were shown in sculptured images or stele as having human form with wings or part human with a bird head and even as horses with wings; the familiar Pegasus of mythic tales. Other god like creatures such as Cupid, Hermes and Perseus all appear with wings.

In my books, following biblical truth, none of my characters who are angels or demons are ever described as having wings. It would be wrong I believe in Christian writing to continue the trend and artistic portrayal of angels having wings to propel themselves through space and time. To do so would be to sentimentalise the true nature of these celestial beings which would after all detract from the truth.

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