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My review of Zachary Garris’ review of Douglas Van Dorn’s book “Giants Sons of the Gods”

Under consideration is Zachary Garris’ article Book Review—Giants: Sons of the Gods ([Douglas] Van Dorn) thus, it is a styled double whammy for me since I get to consider both Garris’ and Van Dorn’s views at once.

Straight away I have an issue since Garris refers to “giants in the Bible” and the book is titled “Giants: Sons of the Gods” yet, we will have to see if either of them 1) define that vague, generic, subjective, and un-biblical English term, 2) they note that some use “giants” to pseudo-translate both “Nephilim” and also “Rephaim” and that 3) this only leads to confusion since the former are strictly pre-flood hybrids and the latter strictly post-flood humans—and there is no relation between them whatsoever.

We are told that Van Dorn “argues that Genesis 6:1-4 is about spirit beings/angels…” at which point we arrived at my next issue: Angels are not “spirit beings” since they are not “spirit”: and those who do think that they are spirits and/but also mated with human women are forced to invent ideas about how they could do so. Biblically, they are described ontologically as looking like human males, they are as physical as Jesus is post resurrection: physical enough to be touched and eat and yet, able to appear and disappear and pass through walls.

Refreshingly, “Van Dorn lays out the different views of” including something that I have oft argued myself which is that “there is no incontrovertible evidence that everyone in the line of Cain was wicked, nor that everyone in the line of Seth was godly” in fact, there is no evidence of any sort, see my Are there a godly line of Seth and a wicked line of Cain?

“Rather, Van Dorn sees the intermarriage between fallen angels and humans” which is the traditional, original and majority view amongst the earliest Jews and Christians alike as I prove in my book “On the Genesis 6 Affair’s Sons of God: Angels or Not?” and subtitled, “A survey of early Jewish and Christian commentaries including notes on giants and the Nephilim.”

Garris has a subsection titled “Post-Flood Giants” so we will have to see if we get technical about that term.

He writes that Van Dorn focuses “on giants after the flood. God sent the flood to wipe out the giants and the violence they caused” however, “giants after the flood” refers to Rephaim and if, or since, “God sent the flood to wipe out the giants and the violence they caused” then any concept of post-flood Nephilim, including a return of them, implies a successful thwarting of God’s will and purpose.

We are told that “The first giant after the flood was Nimrod, ‘a mighty hunter’ (Genesis 10:9). The Hebrew for ‘mighty’ is gibbor (גִבֹּֽר), but the LXX translates this as ‘giant’ (Greek γίγας, gigas). (The LXX also translates gibbor in Genesis 6:4 as ‘giants.’)”

Do you see what the problems are? We have not been given a definition of “giant” but the word keep being employed so we know not to what is being referred: Nephilim, Rephaim, people who are on inch taller than average or one foot of various entire body lengths or what?

The reason why Nirmod is said to be “a mighty hunter” is that he is only referred to as that: being mighty and nothing is said or implied about his height nor is he a Repha.

We are old that the LXX employs “gigas” but we have the same problem as with “giants”: what does gigas mean? We are not told. Well, it (and/or gigantes) literally and merely means “earth-born.”

Garris tells us that “The Hebrew gibbor can refer to a giant, but it is also used for non-giants” but again, we know not of what he speaks nor when he states, “We therefore cannot conclude with certainty that Nimrod was a giant or had anything to do with the Nephilim” although we can most assuredly know that he had nothing to do with the Nephilim. Indeed, gibbor is employed of Nephilim, of David’s soldiers, of God, etc.

Thus, regardless of the term in Hebrew or Greek, context always determines meaning and the context is that Nimrod is not Nephilim and we are told nothing of his size.

We are also told that “Van Dorn also thinks that some of the people Abraham fought against in Genesis 14 were giants” but again, what does that mean? They fought against Repahim and that is all. He quotes Van Dorn thusly, “there is no question that the six tribes defeated by Chedorlaomer before turning to the rebel vassals of Sodom and Gomorrah were giants” but, again and again, what does that mean?

Garris asks “Where did post-flood giants come from?” and tells us that “Van Dorn thinks…either ‘genetic manipulation’ was taking place after the flood or another group of the sons of God took wives just like before the flood” and Garris “prefer the latter explanation” which is not only unbiblical, as those are made up tall tales, but it runs into the issue of thwarting God.

Garris refers to how “When the Israelite spies searched out the land of Canaan, they reported that the people were tall Nephilim—‘the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim’ (Numbers 13:33)” and that “Van Dorn admits it is possible the spies were exaggerating their account, but he counters with Moses’ words about these people to show it would be minimal exaggeration” since “Moses said in Deuteronomy 9:1-2 that Israel would cross the Jordan to ‘dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’”

Note that in the Moses’ words, he states nothing of Nephilim and includes some exaggeration of his own as the “cities great and fortified up to heaven” wow, those are some walls!!! Plus, the people are merely “tall” which is another vague, generic and subjective term (note that Hebrew males of those days averaged 5.5 ft.).

Numbers 13:33 was stated by 1) unfaithful/disloyal spies who 2) were said to present an evil/bad report 3) for which they were rebuked, 4) wherein they made three claims about which the whole rest of the Bible knows nothing, 5) who contradicted Moses, Caleb, Joshua and God, 6) and who after supposedly seeing beings who made them look like grasshoppers in comparison, get back to camp and the first thing they say is, “Hey, check out these grapes!”

We are told “Van Dorn highlights Og of Bashan, whose bed was over 13 feet 6 inches (Deuteronomy 3:11)” but we are not told how he comes to such a conclusion as the cited text tells us the size of his bed but nothing of his own height.

I was pleased to see that Van Dorn “provides a good discussion of the textual issues over Goliath’s height” as I often note as much “as the Septuagint has a much lower height of 6’9” compared to the Hebrew of 9’9”.”

Note that to men who average 5.5 ft., even a 6.9 ft. skilled, experienced and trained warrior would have been very intimidating.

Garris then makes quite an odd statement in that Van Dorn “leaves out an important connection between Goliath and the serpent. Van Dorn makes no mention of Goliath’s ‘scale armor’ (1 Samuel 17:5). (The ESV translates this as ‘coat of mail,’ and chain mail would resemble scales.) This connection would have fit nicely with his interpretation of Genesis 3:15 that the giants were ‘biological’ offspring of the serpent…there is a definite connection between Goliath and the serpent. The giants are doing the work of the devil and were to be destroyed by God’s people.”

Actually, there is no biblical way to claim that Goliath, or Rephaim or even Nephilim “were ‘biological’ offspring of the serpent” unless you make a very circuitous argument about how Satan/serpent cast the fallen Angels to Earth and so through their biology, not his own, Nephilim are his biological offspring: it just does not seem to work no matter what.

But note that Garris is referring to Goliath, the Repha, as one of the “giants” who was “doing the work of the devil and were to be destroyed by God’s people”: well, that may very well be but keep in mind that Nephilim are a whole different issue (even if they too were “doing the work of the devil” even though they were not “destroyed by God’s people”).

Ironically, Garris notes that when it comes to demons, Van Dorn “makes a lot of leaps based on word associations” which is exactly what I have been saying about the both of them (English word associations which are Hebrew disassociations).

Van Dorn thinks that demons are “the spirits of giants” which is a popular view but is un-biblical (even if not anti-biblical) but is really just apocryphal speculation base on 1 Enoch aka Ethiopic Enoch. I make a multi-page argument that demons are the spirits of fallen Angels in my book “What Does the Bible Say About Demons? A Styled Demonology”—even though “Van Dorn says it is a common misconception that demons are fallen angels” ;o)

Now, for his view “He appeals to Job 26:5, which speaks of the Rephaim (which the LXX translates as ‘giants’) as dwelling ‘under the waters.’ Van Dorn argues this is tied with Sheol, the OT place of the dead, referenced in the following verse. He also appeals to other passages suggesting the spirits of the giant Rephaim dwell in Sheol (Psalm 88:10-11; Proverbs 2:18-19; 9:18; 21:6; Isaiah 14:9).” I am empathetic but view the linguistically/grammatically complex term Rephaim are deriving from symbolism and then being applies to non-Hebrew people groups—I have a whole chapter on Rephaim in my book “What Does the Bible Say About Giants and Nephilim? A Styled Giantology and Nephilology.”

Garris tells us that in Van Dorn’s view “giants are active in the NT [New Testament], but they are defeated by Christ after His death on the cross” well, I must have missed that—he must mean that since demons are the spirits of whatever “giants” are then any reference to demons is a reference to “giants”—for what it is worth.

And Garris leaves off with that Van Dorn’s book “is well worth reading. For all its flaws…” which include that he “takes his case for giants too far…prefers the Septuagint translation over the Hebrew text, and he references lots of extra-biblical material, including Jewish beliefs and possible connections of person/place names…injects speculation amidst sound biblical arguments.”

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