Did God Make the Angels?

Did God Make the Angels? February 27, 2021

Did God make the angels, elohim, sons of god, and deities of other nations or were they just, you know, “around” so to speak.

Explicit reference to God making angels and the gods of the nations is not found in the Hebrew Bible, but we can look braoder in post-biblical literature for answers. In sum, I think understanding God as maker of the gods, angels, hosts valid for several reasons:

(1) Many texts do distinguish God as Creator from other gods, angels, and heavenly beings (e.g., Exod 15.11; Ps 89.5-8; 95.3; 97.7-9; 148.1-13; Isa 37.16; Neh 9.6; 3 Macc 2.2-3; 1 Enoch 9.5);

(2) There are references to God creating the world without assistants (Isa 44.24; Sir 42.31; 2 Enoch 33.4; 4 Ezra 3.4; 6.6; Josephus, Apion 2.192; Philo, Opif. 23; Justin, Dial. 56.3);

(3) Angels do not assist in creation but rejoice/bask over God as creator (Ps 148.2; Job 38.7; Jub 2.3; 11Q5 26.12; Pr. Az. 37);

(4) God creates the angels/gods implicitly with the language “all things … apart from him … nothing” (e.g., 1QS 11.11; 1QHa 9.20; Jn 1.3; Od. Sol. 16.18) and in mention of God making the heavens “and all that is in them” (e.g., Exod 20.11; Ps 148.1-5; Neh 9.6; Jas 1.17; Rev 10.6);

(5) God explicitly makes ranks of angels, spirits, and god-like beings in second temple literature (Jub 2.2; 1 Enoch 9.4-5; 2 Enoch 29.1-3; 4Q405 frag. 19; 1QS 3.13-26; 1QM 13.10-13; 3 Enoch 4.1);

(5) Gnostic interpretation of Gen 1.1-2 arguably understood the Pentateuchal creator-god to be ignorant because he thought he was the only deity who created in solitary, which assumes only one god creates (Irenaeus, AH 1.5.3-4; 1.30.6; Apoc. Jn. 11.20-22; Gos. Eg. 58.25-59.9);

(6) I should add that God as exclusive Creator does not require creatio ex nihilio since Philo and Justin distinguish God from gods and creation yet believe in creatio ex matera. Gen 1.1-2 does not necessitate creatio ex nihilio, however, such a view is implicit in Jewish literature at Qumran (1QS 3.15-16; 11.11, 17-18), apocalypses (4 Ezra 3.4; 6.38; 2 Bar 21.4; 2 Enoch 24.2), and rabbinic writings (b.Ber. 32b; b. Hag. 14a), and expressed implicitly or explicitly in Christian writings (Rom 4.17; Col 1.16; Heb 11.3; Jn 1.3; Herm. Mand. 26.1; Theophilus, Autol. 2.13; Irenaeus, AH 3.10.3). What authors stress is “creation’s comprehensive and absolute contingency on the Creator while at the same time affirming his unlimited sovereignty and freedom” (Markus Bockmuehl, “The Idea of Creation Out of Nothing: From Qumran to Genesis Rabbah,” in Visualising Jews Through the Ages: Literary and Material Representation of Jewishness and Judaism, eds. Hannah Ewence and Helen Spurling [New York: Routledge, 2015], 27).

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