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Early-Modern Nephilology in Joseph Sutcliffe’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

In the midst of conducting research for my (as of Oct 2023 AD still unpublished) book Noah’s Flood, the Deluge, Global or Local?, Vol II, I read many, many commentaries on Genesis chapters 6-7.

I mostly ignored comments about Genesis 6:1-4 since although those verses are the premise for that which follows, comments about sons of God, Nephilim, etc. were un-contextual to that book.

Yet, I was so struck by Joseph Sutcliffe’s comments that I had to include them as an example of early Nephilology. Granted, given the historical context of commentary having been upon made regarding Nephilim for millennia, this is an example of early-modern, having been published in 1838 AD. This pertains specifically in terms of what un-biblical Nephilology has been all along: valid data points mixed with invalid data points and all strung together via illogical, ill-theo-logical, and ill-bio-logical subjective assertions.

In my book Nephilim and Giants As Per Pop-Researchers I traced the lineage, as it were, of that which I term neo-theo-sci-fi Nephilology back to I.D.E. (Isaac David Ellis) Thomas who proposed the key points of which such Nephilology is made: Nephilim were very, very tall, there were post-flood Nephilim, Anakim were related to them (and so somehow ergo, all Rephaim), throw UFOs into the mix and you got yourself a theory. They whom I term the pop-researchers of Nephilology merely repeat Thomas’ assertions—and plump them up with ever increasing doses of sci-fi with time and telling. I know not Thomas’ date of birth, but it was into the 1900s AD.

Well, Sutcliffe deserves some amount of credit for laying the groundwork for un-biblical Nephilology, un-biblical Rephaology, un-biblical giantology, etc. much earlier—all under the guise of commentary upon the Bible.

Hereinafter is what I am to publish regarding Sutcliffe’s comments in my yet to be published book:

Due to his calculation of a cubit, we will have to deal somewhat with his comments on vss. 1-4.

Of sons of God, he notes, “Some understand this expression of Seth’s sons, who intermarried with Cain’s daughters…Others understand it, and with greater propriety, of the sons of great men…Hence the sons of the judges, or great men, seized the daughters of the poor; and rapes, prostitution, and violence were without restraint.”

I am unsure whence he got those specifics and even more unsure of why he follows that directly with, “Being gigantic in stature, and having no regular government, they filled the earth with murder and robbery. All our Saxon chiefs claimed descent from Odin, and all the Greeks from Jupiter…”

I can only imagine that he read the modern English word, “giants” in the version he is consulting and just imagine what that means.

Yet, he may have imagined that spiked by mythology as he continues:

Genesis 6:4. Giants. These the poets call children of the earth, or earth-born, as is the etymon of the Greek γιγαντες. They were men of prodigious stature…Plato mentions this war of the giants or Titanes…Berosus, describes these giants…Rev. W. Ward…has written the history of the Mythology of the Hindoos, in which he says “The giants…”…eighth incarnation of Vishnoo was to destroy the giants. The Hebrews call the giants before the flood the Nephilim or apostates, the Gibborim or mighty men.


Those of Palestine are called the Anachim. They were beyond all dispute from nine to ten feet in stature. The origin of pagan fable is founded on facts stated by Moses.


Those monsters mocked at the Ark…These are the Rephaim or the dead, who sunk under the waters, and are now associated with all the inhabitants of hell. Job 26:5-6. Proverbs 2:18.

This comment from 1838 seems to be the sort which set the stage for the incoherent neo-theo-sci-fi which Nephilology has become.

It reminds me of pop-researcher Gary Wayne’s (whom I debated: Gary Wayne & Ken Ammi debate Nephilim & Giants) modus operandi which is to quote anything from anyone at any time in history and weave it together into a grand narrative via mere assertions.

They were, “gigantic in stature…Giants…of prodigious stature…giants or Titanes…giants…giants…giants….giants…nine to ten feet in stature.”

The translators of the Greek Septuagint/LXX rendered (did not translate, in this case) Nephilim as γιγαντες-gigantes yet, we know not why. Was it due to what Flavius Josephus puts as, “many angels of God accompanied with women and begat sons…the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians called giants” (Antiquities of the Jews 1.3.72-74).

Yet, it is not a simple as that Titans were called gigantes ergo since gigantes were very tall then Nephilim were very tall.

There are a lot of issues to consider including that there were more than one generation of Titans (if, that is, we can even correlate Titans to Nephilim—a big IF), some having a hundred arms, some having the lower bodies of serpents, etc.

Moreover, it is far too simplistic to merely assert that gigantes is a term used of Titans and (some) Titans very tall ergo, Nephilim were very tall. It is myopic since perhaps if such a correlation was being drawn it was due to Titans and Nephilim both being hybrids or both being tyrannical, etc.

In any case, Sutcliffe then tells us that the Palestinians, “called the Anachim” but just as he merely asserted that Nephilim were giants based on a text that does not even hint at a physical description of them, he merely jumps a timespan of millennia—jumping directly over the flood, not less—to assert as much.

Yet, while Nephilim were offspring of sons of God and daughters of men, Anakim were named after Anak, the son of Arba (Joshua 15:13). Nephilim lived strictly pre-flood, Anakim lived strictly post-flood. On the Angel view: Nephilim were hybrids, Anakim were just good ol’ fashioned humans.

Continuing on with mere assertions, he assures us based on his say so that, “They were beyond all dispute from nine to ten feet in stature.” Yet, we have no reliable physical description of Nephilim at all and contextually, the only physical description we have of Anakim is that they were, “tall” which is subjective to the average Israelite male who in those days was 5.0-5.3 ft.

I know not to what he refers by that, “The origin of pagan fable is founded on facts stated by Moses” but perhaps it is a reference to Numbers 13:32-33 which is an “evil report” stated by utterly unreliable man who were unfaithful, disloyal, contradictory, embellishers whom God rebuked.

I could certainly see “pagan fable” being premised upon that since it is therein, and only therein biblically, where we get a physical description of Nephilim having been very, very, very tall.

Yet, fable is all that it was—and that fable serves as the very backbone of neo-Nephilology which is none but neo-theo-sci-fi.

Lastly, Sutcliffe further merely asserts that Nephilim, “are the Rephaim” yet, Rephaim are a strictly post-flood fully human people group: a tribe of which Anakim were a clan.

That they are, “the dead, who sunk under the waters, and are now associated with all the inhabitants of hell” is based on a fallacy which is still very, very common: he fails to distinguish between a word and its root—akin to how some confuse definition or meaning with usage.

The root word repha is notoriously complex but, at the very least, ranges in meaning from dead to heal.

The word Rephaim was, again, used of a people group—which also went by various other regional titles, “Anakim they are also counted as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim…Rephaim formerly lived there—but the Ammonites call them Zamzummim” (Deuteronomy 2:11, 21).

See my book What Does the Bible Say About Giants and Nephilim? A Styled Giantology and Nephilology for an entire chapter just on Rephaim and another just on Anakim.

It seemed to me that all of that needed to be reviewed due to that when Sutcliffe gets to the point of commenting about the ark, he asserts, “Moses gives us here the dimensions of the ark, 300 cubits long, 50 high, and 30 broad; and the cubit of those gigantic men from the elbow to the end of the long finger, could not be less than 30 inches.”

But even if (another big IF) Nephilim and/or Rephaim and/or Anakim were, “gigantic…Giants…of prodigious stature…giants…giants…giants…giants….giants…nine to ten feet in stature,” pray tell, what made Sutcliffe think that Moses was reckoning the a cubit based on their cubit?

He goes on to claim, “Others are of opinion that the antediluvian cubit was reckoned the third part of the stature of those men, who may be supposed to have been at least eight or nine feet high; so that according to these dimensions the ark must have been equal to ten or twelve first-rate ships of war” a, “Prodigious superstructure!”

He notes:

Of its existence, antiquity is agreed. Abydenus, and Berosus a priest of Babylon, and Herodotus have all recorded the fact. Vide Euseb. Præp. lib. 9. c. 11, 12.

Origen in Alexandria, and Jerome at Rome, have rebutted the objections started in their day.

The rest of my chapter about Sutcliffe deals with his comments about the flood.

See my various books here.

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