An archangel is a supernatural being of Zoroastrian Persian, Judaic, Christian, and Islamic theology, counted among the angels. According to the rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230–270 CE), all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon, and modern commentators would agree that the details of the angelic hierarchy were largely Zoroastrian in origin.
In the Protestant churches, the naming of the archangels can obey any of the following schemes:
- Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer or Satan – Satan falling from his position at about the year 0 following a dispute with Michael (many churches argue that Satan was always called Satan).
- Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer or Satan – Satan falling from his position sometime in the Creation for giving himself the title of God.
- Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer or Satan – Satan falling from his position sometime in the End Times because of a dispute with Michael.
- Michael and Lucifer or Satan in one of the three falling times abovementioned.
- Michael and Gabriel.
- Michael alone.
The reason this is so debated among Protestants is because Michael is the only one who is directly called an archangel and the term archangel is only used in its singular form in the Bible, although Gabriel and Lucifer/Satan seemed to be equal in position to Michael, which leads to the assumption that they too are archangels.
In the rabbinic traditions of Judaism, and in the Kabbalah, the usual number given is seven: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Sariel, Raguel, and Remiel (possibly the Ramiel of the Apocalypse of Baruch, said to preside over true visions).
Occultists sometimes associate archangels in Kabbalistic fashion with various seasons or elements, or even colors. In some (possibly early?) Christian rites, all four of the main archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel) were invoked as guarding the four quarters, or directions, and the colors associated with them are associated with their "magical" properties.
The term "Archangel", can also refer to:
- a city and region in Russia; see: Arkhangelsk
- a superhero in the fictional Marvel Universe; see: Archangel (comics)
- the "base ship" in the anime series Gundam SEED; see: Archangel (ship)
- a British military operation to support counter-revolutionaries after the Bolshevik revolution.
- a novel by Sharon Shinn; see: Archangel (novel)