Medieval theologians commonly held that angels are subordinated one to the other. However, they did not agree on the foundations and nature of this order of subjection. This article traces the trajectory of the theological discussion on the nature of the angelic prelacy. While there is extensive scholarly literature on medieval theologians' conceptions of the angelic hierarchy, there is next to nothing on their views of angelic prelacy. This article suggests that one of the questions that drives the route taken by the discussions on angelic prelacy is a tension internal to the very idea of angelic prelacy. To be a subject involves some degree of unfreedom. Yet it seemed unsuitable to medieval theologians to attribute unfreedom to angels. A satisfactory picture of angelic prelacy had to posit a form of subjection that did not imply any loss of liberty for the subject angels.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© Daniel Schwartz, 2023.
- Albert the Great
- Thomas Aquinas