Angels, By David Albert Jones

 

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What with cards, tree decorations and It's a Wonderful Life, many of us will be entertaining angels soon. The heavenly messengers have never found a warmer welcome.

As this delightful addition to Oxford's blessed "Very Short Introductions" list makes clear, all the monotheistic religions find room for these multicultural spirits. And writers, painters and musicians have always been keen to elaborate on the rather hazy accounts of their shape and role in scripture.

With grounded learning but a feathery touch, Jones suggests why the winged visitors "show no sign of taking flight" from our culture.

Sadly for sceptics, the idea that medieval theologians debated how many could dance on the head of a pin is merely "a modern invention".

 

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