What are angels? Where were they first encountered? Can we distinguish angels from gods, fairies, ghosts, and aliens? And why do they remain so popular? This Very Short Introduction outlines some of the more prominent stories and speculations about angels in Judaism, Islam, Christianity and post-Christian spiritualities. It reflects on the way that angels have been portrayed in art, whether as young men in the Hebrew Scriptures, androgynous winged creatures of the pre-Raphaelites or the masculine statue of the Angel of the North. It will also consider angels in films such as Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, and Frank Capra'sIt's a Wonderful Life, as well as angels in literature. From the idea of the angel as a messenger, through to the image of angels sent to protect and help those in need, this is an examination of the implications of angels. It will ask why people find the idea of angels attractive, helpful or consoling, and why they remain so powerful in modern culture. It advances the view that reflecting on angels can teach us something about human existence and whether or not we believe that they exist in their own right, the angels can still illuminate our thoughts. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.