Thursday, August 16, 2018

Fiery angel

On this occasion [Exod 3:2-3] however, the "angel/messenger" does not appear in human form, but as a flame of fire...The "Angel of YHWH" appears in the form of "self-sustaining fire"...The use of fire to represent the presence of God in accounts of theophanies may be due to its nonmaterial, formless, mysterious and luminous characteristics. Later in Exodus the "Angel of God" is identified with the pillar of cloud that led the Israelites during the day. T. D. Alexander, Exodus (IVP 2017), 82-83. 

Which confirms my own view that the traditional interpretation is mistaken. It wasn't a burning bush. Seen from a distance, it looked like a burning bush. But that was an optical illusion, caused by the luminous angel standing behind it or inside it. The bush was never on fire. Still a supernatural event, though. 

Did the angel take the form of fire, or did the angel have a humanoid but incandescent appearance? 

The angel seems to be metamorphic. It can take the form of a dust devil or fire devil–as well as humanoid form. And this isn't just an angelophany but a theophany. 

And this may presage the Transfiguration. Which would also explain the presence of Moses and Elijah, since both men were associated with supernatural fire. 

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