Where did archangels come from? How did we end up with archangels in Jewish and Christian tradition?
I have offered an answer to this question in a recently published book chapter entitled, “The Origin of Archangels: Ideological Mystification of Nobility”, appearing in Class Struggle in the New Testament, edited by Robert J. Myles (Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2019).
My explanation, in a nutshell, is that the earliest Archangels (Raphael, Gabriel, Michael, and Sariel) were developed from the heroic princes and nobles of earlier Jewish legends (Rephaim, Gibborim, Anakim, King Og, and Nephilim). Archangels are based on the noble and princely class in ancient Judea, and thereby provide cosmic legitimation of the place of Jewish nobility within Hellenistic and later Judaism. The class differentiation which is integral to the construction of Archangels is then enshrined in the early Christian sect of Judaism; it provided a crucial basis both for Christianity’s development of the imagined future and “vice-regal” role of Christians in the cosmic hierarchy, and also for the attribution of angelomorphic or divine conceptions to Jesus.
The other contributions to this volume examine various aspects of conflicting class perspectives in early Christian Judaism and the New Testament.