Friday, 1 May 2015

Maria Munkholt Christensen: Witnessed by angels: The role of angels in relation to prayer in four ante-Nicene euchological treatises

On the basis of four treatises on prayer from the third century, this paper investigates the role of angels in connection with the act of praying. The sources are: Clement of Alexandria's Stromateis, Book 7, Origen's Peri Euchês, Tertullian's De Oratione and Cyprian's De Oratione Dominica. Despite of the different emphases in these treatises, they all accentuate the social relations connected with the act of praying. Most important are the vertical relations to the triune God and the horizontal relations to the fellow Christians. The authors, however, envisioned that more celestial agents were involved in the act of prayer, e.g. angels, but the authors understood the role of angels differently. For instance, Clement describes the angels as praying by themselves (Stromateis 7.7), whereas Origen points out that the angels pray with the Church (Peri Euchês 31.5); and Cyprian mentions the angel Raphael's role as mediator between humans and God (De Oratione Dominica 33). There are many more examples. The aim of the paper is to investigate these different roles of angels with the purpose of sketching out the "social world" in which the Late Antique Christians shaped their Christian identity.

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