Angels: Background information when reading Out of the Blue

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Out of the Blue

by Sophie Cameron

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron X
Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron
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  • First Published:
    May 2018, 272 pages
    Jun 2019, 288 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Grace Symes
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This article relates to Out of the Blue

Print Review

Angels continue to intrigue many, as evidenced by Sophie Cameron's debut novel, Out Of The Blue. In Zoroastrianism (which dates back to about 1500 BCE) and the Abrahamic religions (the major ones being Judaism, Christianity and Islam), angels are generally considered spiritual beings created by God to serve him in many roles, including as intermediaries with humanity. Angelos translates to "messenger" in Greek; the Hebrew word for angel is mal'ach, also meaning messenger.

Angels play an integral part in many stories in the Torah and Old Testament. God places cherubim to guard the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve are expelled, it is a messenger from God who prevents Abraham from slaughtering Isaac and the Angel of Death who kills the first born in Egypt, and Jacob sees angels ascending a ladder to heaven in his dreams.

They are also integral to many stories in the New Testament. The angel Gabriel announces the coming of Jesus to Mary, and an angel announces his birth to the shepherds, and also comforts Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion.

In Islam, the archangel Jibra'il (Gabriel) dictates the Koran to Prophet Mohammed, and a belief in angels is one of the six articles of faith. Unlike Christianity, there are no fallen angels in Islam (nor in Judaism); Iblis, the Islamic equivalent of Satan is considered one of the jinn, a creation of God parallel to human beings and angels.

Medieval Christian scholars spent much time devising angelic hierarchies (which are different from those in the Jewish and Islamic faiths). It is difficult to wrangle a definitive list due to the many different interpretations, but generally Seraphim and Cherubim are at the top of the Christian hierarchy and Archangels and Angels are at the bottom. It is the latter who are most concerned with the affairs of humanity.

The term "guardian angel" has a long history. Despite there being no Biblical reference to guardian angels, in some early Christian monasteries it was believed that only those of the highest morality earned the right to one, but over time access to guardian angels was expanded and the Catholic Church taught that all Christians were provided with one as a divine guide. In Islam, it is believed that each person has at least two guardian angels; and Zoroastrians pick a patron angel for their protection and offer prayers dedicated to that angel.

A belief in angels is still prevalent in the 21st century. A 2008 study by Baylor University showed that 55% of Americans believe they've been protected by guardian angels at some point in their lives. Many people who have near-death experiences attribute their survival to guardian angels.

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

Article by Grace Symes

This "beyond the book article" relates to Out of the Blue. It originally ran in June 2018 and has been updated for the June 2019 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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