Reviews - What do customers think about Angels of Light, Powers of Darkness: Thinking Biblically about Angels, Satan, & Principalities?
Excellent reference Dec 7, 2000
There are many books on this subject but this one is well thought out, well-referenced, and well-documented. He uses examples from interviews which he has performed in his research on angels and demons. He covers the various views held from different denominations and explains well their connection to the Biblical record. It is an indepth research work that can be referred to over and over again. He is so thorough that you can get lost in the information!
Well written presentation of the orthodox protestant view Jul 18, 1999
In many ways this book is very similar to Clinton Arnold's "Powers of Darkness", as the overlap of half the title would present. The difference is in Ch2-3-4 which cover the 'good' angels which Arnold does not.
I also found Noll's footnoting better than Arnold's, as for example in 'The Snake in the Garden; Satan's disappearing act' (p.98-99) where he correctly footnotes the 1st Century BC 'Book of Wisdom' as the first book to identify the serpent as Satan. (It would have been even better had he mentioned that Paul, the only NT writer to directly discuss the temptation of Eve, clinically describes the serpent as "the serpent", but anyway..).
Reservations come in Noll's treatment of some of the OT history. For example Noll in Ch.5 (p.97-98) rejects the impact of Persian dualism on Hebrew thought. This seems to be done for theological reasons rather than historical. Compare a preexilic writer such as Isaiah's rejection of dualism "I form the light AND create darkness, I make peace AND create evil, I the Lord do all these things" with the dualistic view of postexilic books such as 1Enoch. With all respect to Noll, in this case the "widespread scholarly view" for once is correct; Judaism did shift from a more strictly monotheistic view of evil pre-exile to a dualist one post-exile.
Another reservation is in the dismissal of the generation of John Locke (1632-1704) as mere skeptics. While Locke himself unquestionably was a rationalist, others of that period such as Isaac Newton rejected fallen angels as a part of wider developments in non-conformist belief generated partly by Mennonite, Socinian and other influences from Europe.
This aside the book is well written and well referenced. It is populist in it's approach and makes no bones about being written by someone who believes in both 'angels of light and powers of darkness' to an audience who believe the same. Occasionally this standpoint leads to selective presentation which causes a grin (such as clipping off the awkward word "all" from the beginning of Heb.1:14 on page 154) but on balance Noll does this a lot less than other writers on this subject.
I wish I could recommend a book for the alternative viewpoint (i.e. that all angels are good, the problem is with mankind) but either those books don't get written, or there isn't a market for them. Maybe Primo Levi's autobiographical novel 'If this is a man?' is that other side of the story?