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5/13/2018 9:23 am  #1

Angels - why created in a place?

I'm not seeing why St. Thomas Aquinas says that angels were created in the ‘caelo empyreo’ rather than saying they were not created in a place at all. In ST 1a 61.4, he argues for this claim by explaining that angels have a relation of ranking w/ regard to corporeal creation. They preside over all corporeal creation. For that reason, he says, they should be created in the topmost body, in supremo corpore.

But in ST 1a 52.1, he had said that an angel and a body are said to be in a place equivocally; an angel is only said to be in a place via its application of its power in some way to some place. It is not contained in a place or contained by a corporeal thing, but contains the place in some way. Yet, the empyrean is a place.

Back in 61.4, Aq does not state that the above is a problem, but he seems to recognize it. He says in c and ad 1 that angels could have been created before all corporeal creation, since they do not depend on body w/regard to their existence or to their being made; they were made in a corporeal location to display their ordering toward corporeal nature and their virtual contact with bodies.

What sense does it have to say that angels were created in a corporeal location if they don’t have location but can operate on material things? They could still perform these functions without having been created in a place. Angels would not seem to need a genesis in the created realm in order to operate on it, if what is said about their virtues is true. Thomas allows that the Greek church holds that angels were created before the corporeal world, 61.3 ad 1. I am not understanding his motivation for disagreeing with this view except perhaps out of loyalty to Augustinian traditions of interpreting Genesis.

Does anyone have light to shed on this?


8/07/2018 4:25 pm  #2

Re: Angels - why created in a place?

Clearly an angel is not in a place in the same way a cloud is, but as you say, is said to be in a place via its application of its power in some way to that place. Now, since the Ascension of Jesus the physical location of Jesus (and also of Mary after her subsequent Assumption), which we can call ‘caelo empyreo’, is a place (*) which all angels have in mind, so that they can all be said to be in that place. But before the Ascension of Jesus I see no reason why angels should have the ‘caelo empyreo’ in mind and thus be there. And they certainly did not need to.

(*) Possibly, and in my view probably, not within this universe.


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