POTTER, Dylan David
Angelology: Recovering Higher-Order Beings as Emblems of Transcendence, Immanence, and Imagination
Cambridge: James Clarke & Co, 2017. 214 p.
ISBN 978-0-227-17631-3, £18.
The aim of Potter’s book is to discuss the theology of angels and to then explore to what extent it can be “reappropriated for our own day” (xi). The main sources under discussion are the Hebrew Bible, pseudo-Denys, and Aquinas, which Potter sees as offering a Hebrew, Orthodox, and Catholic bulwark against a claimed Protestant diminution of angelology. Potter then considers modern responses to angelology, including Barth and New Ageism, and calls for a resurgence of angelology as a “theological device that brings glory to the Godhead and reveals a glimpse of paradise in our midst” (194).
The volume is divided into four chapters (focusing on these four sources) and contains a bibliography that will be useful as a survey of scholarship on the subject. The work began as a PhD thesis at the University of St. Andrews but reads with a flair that is both colourful and passionate (for example: “Rather than perceiving angelology as we do the mercurial clouds that wisp and mingle with the wind … it has been … stuffed and preserved like taxidermy, hung vacant-eyed, between doctrinal kinspersons” (193). I have a few quibbles — the discussion of the important Mesopotamian antecedents of the cherubim (16-17) is too brief — but overall, this is an important re-interpretation of an interesting field.
Ronan McLaverty-Head, The King’s School, Worcester