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IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 215: Border Issues, I: Spirits between Heaven and Hell

Monday 13 July 2009, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Alaric Hall, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki
Paper 215-aNeutral in Name Only?: The Motif of the 'Neutral Angel'
(Language: English)
Gudrun Warren, Norwich Cathedral Library
Index terms: Folk Studies, Language and Literature - German, Monasticism, Theology
Paper 215-bBorderline: Double-Edged Spirits in Vincenzo Cicogna's Angelorum et daemonum nomina et attributa
(Language: English)
Edina Eszenyi, Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies (MEMS), University of Kent
Index terms: Biblical Studies, Ecclesiastical History, Hagiography, Manuscripts and Palaeography
Paper 215-cAngels and 'Daemons': Transformative Ideas about their Respective Roles in the Late 15th Century
(Language: English)
Valery Rees, Renaissance Group, School of Economic Science, London
Index terms: Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Philosophy, Theology

This session explores various boundary issues and ambivalent supernatural presences in a range of sources.

Paper -a:
The neutral angels are not biblically attested, but form a motif in the thought of the Middle Ages. A possible theological source is in the writings of Clement of Alexandria; their earliest literary appearance is in the Voyage of Brendan, within the setting of Celtic monasticism. They are discernible in the Grail company of Wolfram's Parzival, in a setting of more contentious orthodoxy. Apparent references in the works of 20th century writers such as C.S. Lewis and Tolkien attest to a continuing fascination with these almost folkloric figures. This paper seeks to elucidate the history and nature of the neutral angels, and to question which side of the orthodox/heretical line they belong.

Paper -b:
The Getty Research Institute holds an extensive treatise by the Venetian ecclesiastical scholar Vincenzo Cicogna. Besides their names and attributes, the handbook interprets metaphorical references to angels and demons in the Scriptures, altogether 223 alphabetical entries comprising an exceptional piece of theology of the period when the conception of angels and demons has already started to mingle with magic and witchcraft, and orienteering between acceptable and unacceptable supernatural agents was becoming ever more difficult. The codex contributes to the debates on heretical interpretations of the Scriptures by highlighting references commonly used for demons and angels.

These comments are all the more interesting as the piece was dedicated to Cardinal Giulio Antonio Santorio, Prefect of the Supreme Council of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, who participated in such heresy processes as those against Giordano Bruno and King Henry IV of France, and was personal consultant of seven popes.

Paper -c:
Debate on angels had largely reached consensus by the fifteenth century, but interest in daemons took a new turn with the recovery of texts by Porphyry and Iamblichus. Marsilio Ficino in Florence explored the implications of their theories, while also developing a new view of Angel as coterminous with Universal Mind.