[Milton-L] Re: the wings again

John Rumrich rumrich at mail.utexas.edu
Thu Jan 3 10:58:21 EST 2008

I hesitate to add another lidless can to a list littered with opened  
worm containers, but it was commonplace of the platonic tradition to  
figure the soul's desire for immortality as wings (see the  
Phaedrus).  My guess is that figure might have been adapted by  
syncretic Christians who saw Christ as the true agent of the soul's  
aspiration to divine realms--on a wing and a prayer.  The association  
would be allegorical and need not entail imagining Christ as an angel.

On Jan 3, 2008, at 9:40 AM, Rose Williams wrote:

> One more odd contribution. Does Giotto's angel (or Christ) remind  
> anyone of St. Teresa's description of her agony-causing visitor? Or  
> of Bernini's sculpture of her angelic encounter?
> Rose Williams
>> This will be an odd contribution to this discussion, but I just  
>> talked
>> to a friend who is the ex-Bishop of Pittsburgh (Episcopal) to get a
>> theological opinion, and he tells me that, based on a distinction  
>> made
>> in Hebrews, Jesus cannot be regarded as an angel (after death, of
>> course).  My response to this is an uneducated one, and the  
>> Bishop's of
>> course is Protestant, but Hebrews 1.4 does expressly say that the  
>> Son is
>> "made so much better than the angels" and the angels "shall  
>> perish; but
>> thou ["Lord"] remainest, and they all shall wax old as doth a  
>> garment"
>> (1.11, quoted from the AV).  So, for Paul, the angels are mortal  
>> and the
>> Son is not.
>> Now, Giotto, together with his followers as collected by Jeffrey
>> Hodges, still might have associated the figure that came to St.  
>> Francis
>> in the dream as being less and less seraphic and more and more like
>> Christ on the cross.  I wonder if Giotto didn't start something.   
>> After
>> all, his fresco is in Assisi.
>> Roy Flannagan
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