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Title: The Embodiment of Angels
Subtitle: A Debate in Mid-Thirteenth-Century Theology
Author(s): HARKINS, Franklin T.
Journal: Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales
Volume: 78    Issue: 1   Date: 2011   
Pages: 25-58
DOI: 10.2143/RTPM.78.1.2125160

Abstract :
This article investigates how mid-thirteenth-century theologians grappled with questions of angelic embodiment and corporeal life-functioning. Regent masters such as Alexander of Hales, Richard Fishacre, Richard Rufus of Cornwall, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure variously employed scriptural and patristic sources in conjunction with Aristotelian philosophy to develop a basic metaphysics of angels according to which these inherently incorporeal spiritual creatures assume bodies not on account of any necessity on their part, but rather simply so that we humans might understand their divinely-ordained ministries. Because the relationship between angels and their bodies is strictly occasional and extrinsic, aiming at human instruction, embodied life-functions that are natural to humans are not natural to angels. Rather, angels merely act in anthropomorphic ways in order to fittingly reveal the divine will to human comprehension.

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