We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Interpreting Angel Motif in Prophetic and Apocalyptic Literature

By David P. Melvin

Publication Year: 2013

Melvin traces the emergence and development of the motif of angelic interpretation of visions from late prophetic literature (Ezekiel 40–48; Zechariah 1–6) into early apocalyptic literature (1 Enoch 17–36; 72–82; Daniel 7–8). Examining how the historical and socio-political context of exilic and post-exilic Judaism and the broader religious and cultural environment shaped Jewish angelology in general, Melvin concludes that the motif of the interpreting angel served a particular function. Building upon the work of Susan Niditch, Melvin concludes that the interpreting angel motif served a polemical function in repudiating divination as a means of predicting the future, while at the same time elevating the authority of the visionary revelation. The literary effect is to reimagine God as an imperial monarch who rules and communicates through intermediaries—a reimagination that profoundly influenced subsequent Jewish and Christian tradition.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Series: Emerging Scholars

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (96.5 KB)
pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF (111.8 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (110.4 KB)
pp. ix-x

This study originated as a PhD dissertation written under the direction of Dr. Joel S. Burnett at Baylor University. It has gone through a few minor changes since it was defended in July 2012, but the essence remains the same. I was led to the topic of the interpreting angel motif and the broader subject of Jewish apocalyptic literature through an early foray into biblical angelology...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (82.6 KB)
pp. xi-xii

A great many people have contributed, directly or indirectly, to the present study, and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all who have supported my scholarly quest over the years. My parents, Paul and Sherry Melvin, stand at the top of this list, for they inspired and encouraged me to follow my dreams. The faculty, staff, and my fellow students at Christian...


pdf iconDownload PDF (113.1 KB)
pp. xiii-xviii


read more

1. Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (198.2 KB)
pp. 1-28

The interpretation of symbolic visions by angels is one of the major literary motifs in biblical literature of the Second Temple period. It emerges from prophetic soil, with precursors in Amos 7:7-9; 8:1-3; Jer. 1:11-19; 24, but it takes on new life with the rise of apocalyptic literature in the sixth–second centuries BCE. With a few possible exceptions, it appears to be a distinctly Jewish...

read more

2. A Mysterious Man: The Interpreting Angel in Ezekiel 40–48

pdf iconDownload PDF (286.5 KB)
pp. 29-80

The interpreting angel motif appears for the first time in the temple vision of Ezekiel 40–48. Here a mysterious “man” (איש) guides the prophet through a tour of a future temple in Jerusalem. The text describes this man in terms reminiscent of the supernatural beings described in Ezek. 1:26-28 and 8:2-3, specifically as one “whose appearance was like the appearance of copper” (Ezek. 40:3a; compare...

read more

3. The Angel Who Spoke With Me: The Interpreting Angel in Zechariah 1–6

pdf iconDownload PDF (267.8 KB)
pp. 81-126

Chapter two examined the appearance of a “man” (איש) in Ezekiel 40–48. This “man” leads Ezekiel through a visionary tour of an eschatological temple in Jerusalem. His primary task is to take measurements of various architectural features, although he does occasionally offer explanations or answer questions, particularly in Ezek. 47:1-12. In this final vision, Ezekiel comes closest to the...

read more

4. Angelic Bystanders and a Man Named Gabriel: Interpreting Angels in The Book of Luminaries (1 Enoch 72–82), The Book of Watchers (1 Enoch 17–36), and Daniel 7–8

pdf iconDownload PDF (269.2 KB)
pp. 127-172

We have seen in the previous chapter that several new developments of the interpreting angel motif appear in Zechariah 1–6, including the clear identification of the guide/interpreter as an angel (המלאך הדבר בי), the seer’s admission that he cannot understand his visions apart from the angel’s explanation, and the adoption of a formal vision pattern clearly derived from...

read more

5. Conclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF (147.3 KB)
pp. 173-186

As the preceding chapters have shown, the interpreting angel motif underwent considerable development from its first appearance in Ezekiel 40–48 to its full blossoming in Daniel 7–8. In the summary below, I trace the development of this motif through the texts analyzed in the preceding chapters. I then note the influence of imperial administration on Jewish angelology, as evident in the...


pdf iconDownload PDF (173.9 KB)
pp. 187-210

Index of Names

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.1 KB)
pp. 211-214

Index of Biblical References

pdf iconDownload PDF (93.2 KB)
pp. 215-225

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (235.3 KB)
p. 247-247

E-ISBN-13: 9781451469660
E-ISBN-10: 1451469667
Print-ISBN-13: 9781451465600
Print-ISBN-10: 1451465602

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Emerging Scholars