On January 7, 2021 AD, TJ Steadman noted the following on his website, “Back in December, 2020, I took part in a debate with Ken Ammi…around the issue of post-Flood giants,” it was actually about post-flood Nephilim—a distinction in which I will get below.
He noted, “Ken is a brother in Christ Jesus. Don’t let the perceived tone of my words say things I’m not saying about him. I respect Ken for his dogged pursuit of truth, even if I disagree with his conclusions” and I would say the very same about him.
He notes that for the debate, “Ken wished to argue that there was no such thing affirmed by Scripture” which, again, means that I argue that there is no such thing about Nephilim affirmed by Scripture, not whatever giants means—we will get to this.
He notes, “Ken has begun posting his own thoughts post-debate on his blog, and I’d like to allow him to finish that before I interact with it” and “I’ll respond to it once Ken has finished tabling his thoughts on it (in an intended four-part series, no less!) on his blog.”
Yet, it is not that simple: he will likely never be able to interact, at least not fully, but that is not due to any fault of his but due to my modus operandi.
I simply function based on efficiency, in all I do, and if I am going to read a book (within the context of research and interaction) then I will make many notes about it, I will then write about it, and post it on my site.
Thus, it is not a four-part series but a many dozen-part series and it will take a long time to post them all.
This is not due to unfairly targeting Steadman on a personal level nor nitpicking him for some personal reasons but again, such is simply how I function, how I process information mentally, how I create content for my site, how I share it with my audience, etc.
He notes that I stated, “‘it (pagan worldview) does bleed into his (T.J. Steadman’s) theology to a certain extent.’ He did not elaborate on that statement. Since he appears to have made extensive notes during his reading of my book, I would have thought he might have been able to produce at least one example,” etc.
I cannot blame him for stating something like this since he was, in part, replying to what I had stated during an impromptu video and also based on just some of my articles.
One example would be correlating the Rephaim people group with the Rephaim spirits of the dead from Ugaritic texts. Repha is such a complicated word and root that I have a whole chapter about it in my book What Does the Bible Say About Giants and Nephilim? A Styled Giantology and Nephilology.
The bottom line is that the Rephaim people group are just good ol’ fashioned humans. The issue with the Ugaritic texts is that recently deceased kings and heroes were referred to as just that, kings and heroes. Yet, when they had been dead for some time, they were then referred to as the Ugaritic equivalent of Repha/Rephaim: and there were rituals for summoning the spirits of these dead Rephaim.
Since repha can refer to the dead, we have instances in the Bible of dead as repha. Yet, this does not mean that the Rephaim people groups were the living dead—as our pop-culture might put it.
The issue is that TJ Steadman has Rephaim as Nephilim 2.0 who were such due to occult rituals performed by Nimrod. Hopefully needless to say: there is no biblical backing for any such thing.
Yet, this gets us into something noted by him.
He noted, “Ken takes issue with the fact that I frequently refer to ‘my view’ on what the Biblical text means, and he is implying that my view is at odds with a plain reading of Scripture” which they sometimes are—I noted as much during our debate so that the context is therein.
“The fact is that I formulated my views from study of the history, culture, and literature of the Bible’s authors as part of the context in which the Biblical text was written, on top of detailed study of the Biblical text. That means that I take into account issues of genre, style, and purpose, as well as date, authorship, audience, historical interpretation, geography, geopolitics, religion, even the climate! – all of which I give lesser status than the affirmations of the text itself.”
I want to say ditto and do say it to a certain extent but, to be fair, I cannot say I have studied ancient Near East (ANE) climate and he has certainly delved into Pagan ANE literature more than I.
I did write a book titled The Apocryphal Nephilim and Giants: Encountering Nephilim, and Giants in Extra-Biblical Texts but those were mostly actual biblical apocrypha and pseudepigrapha as well as Rabbinic literature, etc.
He notes, “the challenge for the modern reader is to determine what those affirmations are” and that “Ken’s main objection to what I had to say came down to what was in essence a simple assertion (granted, he does not say this in so many words) that the text has to mean what it says at face value. Well, that’s great except for where it doesn’t work.”
After some examples—such as “‘Women shall be saved through childbearing.’ 1 Tim. 2:15 NIV (Are barren women going to Hell?)—he concludes, “The point is, you can’t always arrive at an affirmation of truth by taking things at face value, for a wide variety of reasons.”
He elucidates that “the reality of our situation in the 21st century” is “The idea that Scripture can’t communicate truth by non-literal interpretation because it requires additional knowledge, is not how Sola Scriptura works…To see Scripture at only the surface level is to miss so much of what the Bible has to tell us.”
I can appreciate why he made those statements but it is not that simple—my view is not that simple. There are times when it is obvious that a text says what it means and means what it says at the common sense, surface, level (even if there is more beneath the surface) and times when it does not.
For example, I cannot speak for the entire book of Revelation but can affirm that chapter 12 is obviously—at the common sense level—chronological.
Also, when it comes to chapter 9, I do not claim chimera ascended from the Abyss but that it was fallen Angles who are highly symbolically described: and I tracked down each symbol in my book What Does the Bible Say About Angels? A Styled Angelology.
TJ Steadman goes go on to write, “Ken (at least, in his words) does affirm that context is important” and adds, “but it seems that it’s not important enough to allow that information to change his position.” That last bit is an odd statement since the reason that I have not changed my position is not because context is not important enough but because it is so important that I have followed it to where it led.
Now, he does rightly point out that the ANE consisted of “what we call a ‘high context audience’” but I would add a caveat that we be very cautious to not assert high context audience when the Bible does not say something we want to eisegetically claim, that we want to see therein, that we are arguing but is not there, etc.
In other words, let us just be careful to not use high context audience as a styled argument from silence—this will come up below.
Now, when it comes to the bottom line issue, the topic of our debate, as to a biblical case (informed by whatever other texts) for post-flood Nephilim, he wrote, “If Ken wants to correct my understanding on any of these matters, he needs only to show how his own interpretation makes better sense of the available data.”
I will dare say that I already have and that in turn, he presents us a biblically unrecognizable tale about Nimrod’s occultism which caused people to become possessed with the spirits of dead Nephilim—and became giants, the aforementioned Rephaim, the Nephilim 2.0.
To boil down my argument: the reference is made to Nephilim in two verses, one pre-flood and one post-flood, the first one is a reliable record of history while the second records an evil report by unfaithful, disloyal, contradictory, embellishing men whom God rebukes—to death—and so no one should believe them, much less use one single verse to then pull other verses into a grand narrative.
TJ Steadman notes:
“Ken appears to believe that my hermeneutical approach lends itself to ‘science fiction’ in that it leads to making “everybody into ‘giants.’’ He goes on in his usual style to claim that ‘giants’ is a vague, generic, subjective, unspecified term (see my argument above concerning the high-context audience of Scripture), which demonstrates that perhaps Ken’s issue is that he really doesn’t want to get pinned down on word definitions or meanings at all. He doesn’t appear to understand the words ‘science,’ ‘fiction,’ or ‘giants,’ for example (and let’s not go into ‘Nephilim’ or ‘Anakim’).”
Indeed, some of his hermeneutical approach is not actually hermeneutical and does lends itself to that which I term neo-theo-sci-fi.
He goes on to say that “This is some high-level pedantry going on here, and it doesn’t contribute anything meaningful to the discussion.”
Yet, such a high-level pedantry is utterly key to a meaningful discussion: it actually establishes the context for it, the parameters of it, the foundation for it, etc.
Just look up anything online about, say, “Nephilim giants,” pick any article or video at random, and you will surely notice that 99% will not bother defining what they mean by, yes, that vague, generic, subjective, and undefined or unspecified English term.
So, what is interesting is that it is the exact opposite of that I do not want to get pinned down on word definitions or meanings at all rather, I virtually beg people to pin down word definitions and meanings—preferably before they go on and on about a word/term/phrase/definition/meaning that is unclear—and it is something that I do when I write/speak about these issues.
But how, you may ask, is giants unclear? In may ways. I can think of 5-6 definitions.
You see Shaquille O’Neal is a giant but giant from the story Jack and the Beanstalk is a giant and Anakim were giants but the Nephilim in 1 Enoch/Ethiopic Enoch were also giant and yet, these are of vastly different heights.
Even if we agree on a basic level definition of that giant refer to unusual height then how unusual? Also, unusual height is subjective to the local populace. Who is a giant among pro-basketball players and who is a giant among Pygmies?
Biblically, Anakim were “tall” or “of great stature” compared to the average Israelite male who in those days was 5.0-5.3 ft. while the Nephilim of 1 Enoch/Ethiopic Enoch were impossibly tall at 15.3-25.6 miles.
So no, giant does not mean giant meaning giant.
Thus, when he writes, “I wrote a book about unusually large and powerful people, for a contemporary audience which naturally associates the term ‘giants’ with unusually large and powerful people, and yet Ken would have us believe that there’s some reasonable basis on which to question what I mean by the word” the first question should be, “What do you mean by ‘unusually large’?” followed by, where are you quotations and citations to back that?
You see, it is as if (I say as if) he is reading an English Bible that employs the term giants and thinks that it is implying unusually large because such is how that word is used in modern times. Yet, such is not what is implied by it in the Bible. The Bible refers to unusual height using tall or great stature, not giants.
When English Bibles employ the term giants, they are rendering the Greek gigantes which means “earth-born” and implies nothing about being unusually large. Moreover, when English Bibles employ the term giants, they are rendering the Greek Septuagint/LXX’s use of gigantes which it does when it is rendering (not even translating) both Nephilim and also Rephaim (and also gibborim but that is another issue).
Thus, even if one attempts to build a gran theory based on the English word giants, one will have to recognize that they are tying together two things, two words, two people groups between which there is no correlation at all—which is part of why TJ Steadman had to, yes, concoct a sci-fi tale about Nimrod.
Thus, these are some examples of why we cannot complain about high-level pedantry and punt to high context audience since when that audience heard what TJ Steadman is reading and relating as giants they were not thinking of unusually large but where either thinking Nephilim or Rephaim.
“Here’s where Ken crosses a line between casually implying that I’m in danger of misleading people, and outright misrepresenting me: He claims that I affirm that the Biblical Samson was in fact a giant. This comes despite the fact that I never actually say, nor even imply, that Samson was a giant. In fact, I affirm the opposite and I wrote half a chapter in pursuit of that fact. The subtitle of that portion of my book is actually called, ‘Samson Was Not a Giant’ (Answers to Giant Questions, pp. 245-250).”
I assure you that if there is one thing that I am loath to do, to anyone, is to take them out of context.
He goes on to note, “Ken needs to pay more careful attention to the difference between affirmation of a person’s attributes and portrayal of a character.”
So, apparently, Samson was somehow unusually large but also not unusually large depending if we are discussing his attributes and character—whatever that means.
Well, he tells us more about what it means, what he means, in noting that I “didn’t misrepresent my book, per se. He just misread and misunderstood it (Ken actually says in his video, ‘Overall, I didn’t really understand it.’), and used that misunderstanding to misrepresent my view.”
“My view, as per the text of my book, which Ken actually quoted in part, is that the author is PORTRAYING Samson as a giant – not AFFIRMING that he was one. It’s a characterisation. It’s an allusion. It’s rhetoric designed to communicate a truth – not a truth about size or strength, but about the character of Samson; his sin, his depravity, his violence, all of which ties back to Genesis 6 through the lens of his questionable conception, his great strength and a plethora of other textual cues.”
Chronologically speaking, I “didn’t really understand it” at the time of the debate. I doubted it would come up during the debate and so left it for later. Later I did reconsider his claims and ended up writing the article TJ Steadman on Samson: giant or not?
I can now say that while I got nothing but love for TJ, his claims in this regard are quite flummoxing on logical, theo-logical, textual, and historical levels.
Of course, I am a big believer in that an author will always know what they meant more than a flummoxed reader—and the reader might be flummoxed by their own difficulties in comprehending or because the author was unclear.
In any case, there is no indication whatsoever that Samson was either an unusually large giant physically nor that his alleged giant character “ties back to Genesis 6.”
I am quite pleased that both TJ Steadman and I find these—somewhat obscure—topics enough to delve into and can do so as brothers.
For more details, see my various books on Nephilim related issues.
Here is my copy of TJ’s book:
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