Posted: July 31, 2011 in Did you know?, History Related
Tags: , , , ,

Sorry, this isn’t about marines fighting aliens in outer space.  I’m writing about all those halos you see over the head’s of angels. I’ve always wondered, what does that mean? Where did the halos come from?

Halos[1] are obviously a disk or ring of light over someone’s head, which is classically used to symbolize divinity. Why? Well, many ancient cultures from Rome to India believed the circle to be supernatural since it had no beginning or end.[2] The word “Halo” means “threshing floor” in Greek because oxen and cattle would often leave hoof imprints on threshing floors in the shape of a circle as they walked in circles.[3] Painters began to paint it around the heads of Roman Emperors since they were believed to be divine anyways. Later on when Christianity took over, painters borrowed the same halo technique and applied it to their paintings of Christ, Mary and the saints.[4] As these paintings became popular overtime our culture naturally misconceived that people receive halos in heaven. Hence why the traditional depiction of an angel involves having a halo over their head.

As you can see, the halo has evolved over the years…

Are halos in the Bible though? Nope. Just add it to the laundry list of non-biblical attributes found in biblical paintings. Since technically the roots of the halo are pagan, one could argue it to be disrespectful to place halos over the head of divine figures in Christianity.

[1] Also called “nimbus.”

[4] J. Stephen Lang, “1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,” (Barnes & Noble, Inc.New York:NY 2010) Pg. 408


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