Jesus and the Angel of God
Q: I have heard that “the Angel of God” referred to in the Old Testament is actually the pre-Incarnate Logos, or God the Son, who was later born as Jesus of Nazareth. Is this a heretical belief or is it something a Catholic can accept?
A: The theory that God the Son is the Angel of the Lord (mal’akh Yahweh) or the Angel of God
(mal’akh Elohim) is one that is not common in Catholic circles, but it is not heretical. The Catholic Biblical Encyclopedia by Steinmuller and Sullivan states that when one examines the passages in the Old Testament in which the Angel of the Lord is mentioned,
“it will be seen that this ‘angel of the Lord’ often speaks and acts as Yahweh Himself and not as His messenger, and that there is no essential difference between the promises made by Yahweh Himself and those made by the angel of the Lord. Hence, many scholars maintain mal’akh Yahweh or mal’akh Elohim is used interchangeably with the divine name Yahweh and is so to be identified with God Himself. However, there are also many others who believe the angel of the Lord implies a heavenly spirit acting as God’s representative, legate, or ambassador. There are only a few scholars who regard the angel of the Lord as the Logos, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity” (Catholic Biblical Encyclopedia [New York: Joseph F. Wagner, 1956], I:70-71).
If the Angel of the Lord were the pre-Incarnate God the Son, then the term “Angel” would be taken in its root sense of “Messenger,” making the pre-Incarnate Word of God “the Messenger of God” (Word = Message = Messenger).