The Sheppy Dog Fund Lecture has been established to address the topics of art, religion and history prior to the 19th century, and is funded by the Sheppy Dog Fund, Dr. Alan Klein, Advisor.

Past Lecture

The Fiery & the Fallen

The Early History of Angels & Demons

Guest Lecturer, Dr. Justin Sledge

Free to the public. 

Angels and demons have inspired and haunted the imagination of the western world for thousands of years, yet their origin is mysterious. Unmentioned in the traditional account of creation found in Genesis, they light up the prophetic works of Ezekiel and Isaiah. Despite this obscurity, they pepper the art of the middle ages and are said to possess the souls of ancients and moderns alike.  

What are these creatures? How did the idea of angels and demons develop over the ages? The tradition gives us a varied and often shocking vision of them: six-winged beings made of fire; powerful entities that descend from heaven to mate with human women; spirits left without bodies as the first Sabbath fell and God rested; frightening soldiers which guard the heavenly palaces; horrors which stalk in the darkness. How do we make sense of these legends? How did other ancient near eastern cultures influence the Israelite/Jewish conceptions of these entities?

Join Dr. Justin Sledge in a two-part lecture series on the early history of angels and demons. In the first, Dr. Sledge will trace the earliest Israelite, Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Zoroastrian accounts of these intriguing creatures. We will tour the rich tapestry of creatures said to act as intermediaries and messengers of the Gods visiting revelation and woe upon human kind. 

In his second lecture, Dr. Sledge will take up the flowering of angels and demons around the time of the second Jewish Temple­—from roughly the lifetime of Jesus up to the time of the writing of the Babylonian Talmud. It is during this period that angels and demons take the character of the entities well-known to us in mythology, lore, and pop culture.

Giovanni della Robbia (attributed to), Italian, 1469–1529, Figure of an Angel, late 15th/early 16th century, Tin-glazed earthenware, 26 x 9 x 9 inches. Gift of Mrs. Viola E. Bray, FIA 2005.153

Giovanni della Robbia (attributed to)
Italian, 1469–1529
Figure of an Angel, late 15th/early 16th century
26 x 9 x 9 inches 
Gift of Mrs. Viola E. Bray, FIA 2005.153


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