Undergoing review is Joe Edge’s column for the Augusta Press which is tiled The Nephilim Were Not Mythical Angelic Offspring, June 26, 2023 AD: Edge, “graduated from Evans high school in 2000 and served four years in the United States Marine Corps right out of High School.”
He references, “many discussions about the Nephilim with varying opinions that were not based in fact” due to, “Improper interpretation…or a flawed traditional teaching” and so he sought, “an objective examination.
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
Joe Edge asserts that the Angel view, “that the Nephilim were the offspring of angels who left their heavenly abode to have sexual relations with women…is based on Jewish tradition rather than the Biblical text itself.”
Such, of course, isn’t the case but we will have to see whether he actually gets into that issue.
The original, traditional, and majority view among the earliest Jewish and Christians commentators, starting in BC days, was the Angel view, as I proved in my book, On the Genesis 6 Affair’s Sons of God: Angels or Not?: A Survey of Early Jewish and Christian Commentaries Including Notes on Giants and the Nephilim.
Joe Edge appeals to, “two lineages of both Seth and Cain in Gen. 4-5 present a contrast between a lineage that was evil and curses and one that was righteous” and that “It is the backdrop of these two genealogies that the context for chapter 6 is found.”
He clearly takes the Sethite view which, as we just saw, is based on myth since there’s no indication of any such a thing as, “a lineage that was evil and curses and one that was righteous”: and keep in mind that the righteous lineage was so utterly righteous that they sinned so badly that it served as the premise for the flood—go figure.
From that, Edge jumps to, “a list of reasons I believe the ‘sons of God’ does not refer to fallen angels”:
“The fact that the Nephilim were subject to God’s ensuing judgment prove that they were mortal rather than some supernatural half-breed”: this is incoherent since there’s no reason to think that God would not judge half-breeds and Edge didn’t bother elucidating his assertion.
“Gen. 6:1-8 is about humanity and its doomed outcome not angels and their punishment”: indeed, but what of it? The Bible is more of an anthropological anthology than it is a theological anthology: it’s focus always and quickly turns to humanity—our creation, our fall, and our redemption and how things along the way effect us.
“Contextually, there has not been any mention of angelic beings in the Old Testament up to this point. It would not make logical sense for this to be first mention of them”: nothing in the entire Bible is mentioned until it’s mentioned. Again, he merely asserted but didn’t elucidate why his subjective opinion is that, “It would not make logical sense for this to be first mention of them.”
“Nowhere in Scripture is it found that angelic beings have the ability to procreate as mankind can”: he can only state this after rejecting the Scripture that does refer to that. Also, Jude correlates the sin of Angles to sexual sin.
“Angels are spiritual beings not corporeal”: this is a mere assertion. Angels are described as looking just like human beings and performing physical actions without any indication whatsoever that such isn’t their ontology.
“Jesus indicated in Matt. 22:30 that angels do not have sexual relations as humans”: Jesus didn’t indicate any such thing, he specifically specified that, “Angels of God in heaven,” the loyal ones, don’t marry and are not given in marriage. Such is why those who did are considered sinners, having, “left their first estate” as Jude put it.
Thus, his top reasons for rejecting the original, traditional, and majority view consisted of subjective assertions and misunderstandings.
Joe Edge notes, “Augustine and the reformers Luther and Calvin all agreed that the correct interpretation was that the ‘sons of God’ referred to the lineage of Seth while the ‘daughters of man’ referred to the lineage of Cain.”
Augustine actually took quite a nuanced view but the part of his view that appealed to the fundamental myth may be easily, psychologically, explained.
He converted to Christianity from Gnostic Manichaeism and sough to do away with any and all such influence and since Mani taught that Angel view, Augustine would reject it.
Luther and Calvin came along millennia later and I covered all three of these men in my book.
Back to Nephilim, Edge notes that following Gen 6, “The word Nephilim appears a second time in the Old Testament in Number 13:33. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” and asks, “If the Nephilim are decedents of the Anakites then how did they survive the flood?”
His question is backward: the verse noted that Anakites (Anakim) were the decedents of the Nephilim. Yet, the question remains, “then how did they survive the flood?” I can only imagine that Joe Edge didn’t interact with the narrative of Num 13 but merely uncritically picked up one single verse and ran with it.
He notes, “The Anakites were mentioned multiple times” and were, “known for their size” when, that is, we note that what we’re told about their size (Deut 2) is that they were, “tall” subjective to the average Israelite male who was 5.0-5.3 ft.
Edge jumps to the conclusion that, “It makes logical sense that the Nephilim were a tall strong people that were part of the Anakites but not half angel abominations” but that’s merely piling up assumed assertions: 1) we don’t have a reliable physical description of Nephilim, 2) there’s no reliable way to correlated them to Anakites (and Anakim are missing from the LXX version of that verse), 3) a survival for Nephilim past the flood contradicts the Bible five times: Genesis 7:7, 23; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; and 2 Peter 2:5.
Edge notes, “An alternative meaning to Numbers 13:33 is that the Hebrew spies were exaggerating. They could have used hyperbole” yet, he bypasses that by noting, “Either way there is no textual reason to interpret the Nephilim in Numbers 13 as being anything more than large humans.” Well, stating it was exaggeration and hyperbole is being mild, he’s exclusively appealing to one single (non-LXX) version of an, “evil report” by unreliable guys whom God rebuked.
He didn’t bother elucidating those facts and those facts make that one sentence a non-issue: they just made up a tall-tale, Nephilim didn’t survive the flood in any way, shape, or form, and Anakites weren’t related to them—Anakite were a clan of the Rephaim tribe.
Speaking of exaggeration and hyperbole, as is very common, he asserts that Nephilim were, “a race of people who were violent and immoral. The text never even states that the Nephilim were the direct offspring of those two lineages but just that they were on the earth at the time.”
It’s exaggeration and hyperbole, or at least just arguments from silence, to merely assert they were violent and immoral since all we’re told about then in that sense is that they were mighty and renown (for unknown reasons).
As for the text never even stating that the Nephilim were the direct offspring of those two lineages: it would be an odd and un-contextual narrative if it just states that they were on the earth at the time.
The contextual focus of the narrative is the sons of God and daughters of men: their attraction, their marriages, and their offspring so it would be un-contextual for the narrative to artificially insert some unrelated guys who just happened to be around at the time and about whom nothing more was said.
He also asserts, “There is zero textual evidence to assume Nephilim refers to a race of half angelic half human creatures” and then moves from that it’s, “based on Jewish tradition” to that, “That idea comes strictly from Jewish myth and has no hermeneutical standing in Scripture.”
Yet, he had noted, “Jewish tradition rather than the Biblical text itself” but didn’t get around to reviewing the Angel view’s arguments: he only listed his fallacious objections to it.
Job 38:7 alone is enough to move us into the Angel view direction since it has, “sons of God” being non-human beings (which the LXX has as “angelos”).
Joe Edge concludes that, “Based on this corpus of evidence” which he has 99% ignored, “I believe that the Nephilim were decedents who resulted from inter-marriage between the women in Cain’s lineage and the men in Seth’s” even though he also told us, “The text never even states that the Nephilim were the direct offspring of those two lineages but just that they were on the earth at the time.”
He also concludes, “The corruption of Seth’s line led to God’s decree that he would wipe out mankind” but he didn’t bother telling us why such mixed marriages ever since then have not resulted in such floods.
I thought to review, in part, some of the comments to the article, in closing.
Someone wrote, “…one of your foundational assertions central to your argument is incorrect…the angelic host…have the God given ability to assume the properties of human flesh” but there’s no indication of that whatsoever.
This person quoted, “Heb 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” but what therein did you read about the God given ability to assume the properties of human flesh? Nothing, people who hold to that man-made tradition read such texts and artificially insert a concept they never state nor imply.
Rather than coming to the logical conclusion I noted above about how Angels naturally look, they eisegetically read traditions into text that don’t even hint about them.
You see, this person noted, “So human like in their appearance & actions are they that the scripture even details they are able to sit down for a meal” but then insert that it’s due to assuming the properties of human flesh rather than ontologically having such properties.
This person reiterated, “angels…are being described here as assuming form capable of eating , sleeping, walking, talking, and being sexually attractive to humans” but continues to insist that these were cases of, “assuming human form…assuming human form…assuming human form…assume human form.”
Joe Edge replied by likewise teaching un-biblical Angelology by reiterating, “The fact is that they are ‘spirit’ beings” and doubles his error by stating, “Can they take on the apperance of flesh? Yes. Are they flesh? No.”
He rightly notes, “There is no example of ‘spirits’ being able to procreate or take on flesh in that way” which is accurate but has nothing to do with Angles.
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