The Art of Angels - Thrones

Thrones are the third class of angels in the top tier, along with Seraphim and Cherubim. Getting to grips with their function and appearance is not easy, and the rather opaque description by Pseudo-Dionysus may not help:

The appellation of the most exalted and pre-eminent Thrones denotes their manifest exaltation above every grovelling inferiority, and their supermundane tendency towards higher things; and their unswerving separation from all remoteness; and their invariable and firmly-fixed settlement around the veritable Highest, with the whole force of their powers; and their receptivity of the supremely Divine approach, in the absence of all passion and earthly tendency, and their bearing God; and the ardent expansion of themselves for the Divine receptions.

Thrones get one mention in the Bible, in  Paul's letter to the Colossians, though we don't learn much there either:
'For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.' (Ch 1 v 16)

They are associated with the extraordinary vision of Daniel:
'I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
' (Ch 7 v9)
  The mention of wheels links Thrones with the Hebrew Ophanim, meaning wheels, creatures made up of linked rings with eyes. Their function is to move the throne of God when required. This is shown in this rare image from the church of John the Baptist, Kratova, Macedonia.

The idea of Thrones as wheels is not generally accepted in Christian theology. Rather they are seen as symbols of authority and justice, and their name does give weight to that. Here are two images showingThrones in a more familiar angelic form. On the left below are the Thrones from the Baptistery in Florence. The other is by Guariento D'Arpo, c 1345, froan sequence of angelic images. The Florentine Thrones carry mandorlas, which have a suggestion of wheels. Guariento's Throne sits on a throne rather than carrying one, and this certainly suggests authority and justice. 


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