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Review discussion of Joe LoMusio’s paper Exegetical Notes on Genesis 6 1-4

The following discussion took place since I was invited to review Joe LoMusio’s paper Exegetical Notes on Genesis 6:1-4, he is the Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Haven University, California’s Graduate School of Theology.

Mondo Gonzales chimed in to make LoMusio about one of his papers and I ended up writing a review of it: A review of Mondo Gonzales’ paper, “A Brief Survey of the Pre-flood and Post-flood Origins of the Nephilim.”

At the time, I replied, “Mondo, you wrote of, ‘Moses writing that there were Nephilim before and after the flood (Genesis 6:4; cf. Numbers 13:33)’ but he did not write any such thing.” Yet, He didn’t reply.

Earlon Carsley wrote:

Ken, I would appreciate a more complete elaboration of your rejection of Mondo’s thesis.  His article seems to be very reasonable in its logic and thorough in its treatment of the relevant texts.  His conclusion is quite well supported, it seems to me:

“The Biblical theological evidence shows that Nephilim/Rephaim/Anakim tribes still remained to be fully exterminated. They reappear in the text of Scripture centuries later in the time of David. Goliath was from Gath, one of the cities mentioned in Joshua 11:22 where some Anakim remained. The Bible gives the final summary that David and his servants eliminated the rest of Nephilim/Anakim tribes (1 Samuel 17:4, 7; 2 Samuel 21:16-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8).

I, Ken Ammi, replied:

Most interesting.

In terms of the Angel view: I don’t rejection of Mondo’s thesis in the least bit and have, in fact, taken and defended the same view in circa nine of my books.

Yet, there is no reliable indication that “Nephilim…tribes still remained to be fully exterminated” but only that “Rephaim/Anakim tribes still remained to be fully.”

Now, saying “They reappear” is incoherent since only Nephilim could have re-appeared (but they didn’t) since Rephaim/Anakim also could not have since they were not around before they were around, of course. They appeared, not re-appeared.

Goliath was a Gathite, Philisting, Anakim, Rephaim: nothing to do with Nephilim.

Now, you specify “Nephilim/Anakim tribes (1 Samuel 17:4, 7; 2 Samuel 21:16-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8)” but none of those texts states a single word about Nephilim.

Earlon Carsley:

Mondo points out that Moses identified the “giants” seen by the spies in the Land of Canaan as Nephilim (Numbers 13:32-33).  In that text Moses also identifies the descendants of Anak with these Nephilim.  A substantial part of Mondo’s thesis is that Moses wrote the “sons of God” account in Genesis 6:1-4 with his own contemporary experience in mind.  Hence it makes sense for Moses to state that the Nephilim were in the earth both before the Flood “and also afterward” (Gen. 6:4).

I believe his point is that Moses viewed both the Nephilim of Genesis 6 and those of Numbers 13 as beings having the same nature – not necessarily related by descent but having similar origins in illicit angelic/human relations.  Would you see that as a possibility?

Ken Ammi:

Appreciate the continued interaction.

Moses did not such thing: he merely told us that 10 unfaithful, disloyal, contradictory, embellishers presented an “evil report,” for which God rebuked them, wherein they, not Moses, “identified the ‘giants’ seen by the spies in the Land of Canaan as Nephilim” which, BTW, is a phrase that biblically would read, “identified the ‘Nephilim’ seen by the spies in the Land of Canaan as Nephilim.”

Likewise, Moses never “identifies the descendants of Anak with these Nephilim” that was the 10, again. And many scholars claim that portion is a gloss since it’s utterly missing from the LXX for that verse.

Moses never wrote, “that the Nephilim were in the earth both before the Flood ‘and also afterward.’”

Thus, there’s zero indication that “Moses viewed both the Nephilim of Genesis 6 and those of Numbers 13 as beings having the same nature” since the ones recorded in Gen 6 were alive, on the ground, at the timeline of the record but the ones merely referenced in Num 13:33’s evil report weren’t.

There’s also zero indication of post-flood “illicit angelic/human relations.”

Thus, no: I would not see that as a possibility.

Earlon Carsley:

I also appreciate your willingness to interact on this question, Ken.  Concerning Numbers 13:33, I agree it is possible to see the spies’ report of Nephilim in Canaan as being a false report and hence not necessarily endorsed by Moses in the text.  However the statement that the descendants of Anak came from Nephilim cannot reasonably be seen as coming from the spies themselves.  Clearly it was either Moses who provides this parenthetical bit of information or else it was a later scribal gloss as you suggest. This passage by itself  then leaves us with no certainty on the matter.

But your adamance that “Moses never wrote” that the Nephilim were in the earth both before and after the Flood requires more explanation.  Mondo provides a very detailed grammatical analysis of this verse (Gen. 6:4) which is quite convincing to me.  Additionally he notes that most scholars recognize that the demonstrative “those” in line 1 (of verse 4) along with the complex preposition “also afterward” is a reference to the days both before and after the Flood.

Please explain why you are so certain that this analysis is erroneous.  I’m sure you agree it isn’t enough to simply assert that something is wrong without clearly explaining why.  Thanks very much.

Ken Ammi:

The narrative of Num 13 screams utter tall tale at 13:32-33, as does the whole entire rest of the Bible, and when Moses relates that events in Deut 1 he utterly ignores Nephilim but mentions Anakim: he’s too concerned with the realities on the ground to bother reiterating made up stuff.

“the statement that the descendants of Anak came from Nephilim cannot reasonably be seen as coming from the spies themselves” but seems to be a gloss: it’s utterly missing form the LXX.

As for “Nephilim were in the earth both before and after the Flood…(Gen. 6:4)”: I just posted a review of his paper. Since he uncontextually accepts 13:33 as factual, he runs with it, applies it, and then uses it to (mis) read Gen 6:4, see here.

Earlon Carsley:

You may be right, Ken.  I’ll read your review.  Thanks.

Geoffrey Tolle chimed in with:

Ken Ammi, “The narrative of Num 13 scream utter tall tale at 13:32-22”. I can’t disagree with you, there, however, there are other elements of the story that I think point in a direction beyond tall tale. Two points in the story that I’ve seen very few people comment on are:

  1. A) Num 13:32 “The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eats up the inhabitants thereof”
  2. B) Num 13:33 “And there we saw the giants… and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

In a stalled work that I have been working on, I propose reading the OT (especially) through the light of what we, now, classify as shamanism. An common aspect of shamanism is the sky journey, where the participant’s spirit travels across (usually) the spirit world. This is exactly what we see in many of the prophet (not prophetic) visions. Given the wide variance of what these men told from the reality of Canaan, I propose that they were on a sky journey. Note the surrealistic aspects of the 40 days of exploration (tur): Giant grapes (possibly associated with the vine of immortality); a people-eating land; and people who they perceived as giant just as they perceived themselves as giants. Such phantasmagorical imagery is not unheard of in dreams and trance states.

Thus, I suggest that this was not a real journey but a spiritual (note: 40-day) one which would mean that the Anakim and cities that they encountered were other-worldly much as was the Nineveh through which Jonah wandered and preached. A tall-tale, yes, but one that would have been understood very differently by the people hearing the story in the early years of its existence.

Ken Ammi:

Fascinating “sky journey” theory—like Muhammad’s upon a winged horse

Yet, I’d appeal to the mundane nature of the narrative: combining both reports, the original and the evil, they’re about spying out “the land,” describing its features, its produce, its peoples, its cities, and what they saw therein—its features, its produce, its peoples, its cities. After all, it was an “evil report about THE LAND.”

As for “wide variance,” recall that the 10 originally agree that the issue was strong/stronger but that only after seeing themselves backed into a corner did they present an “evil report which is their statement that varied.

So, you refer to “the reality of Canaan” but that’s just the issue: every indication—logical, theo-logical, textual, etc.—is that they didn’t relay reality. This is why the key features of post-flood Nephilim theorizing—that post-flood Nephilim existed, that Anakim were related to them, that they were very, very tall—is literally based on one single, very problematic, verse.

There’s no indication of “Giant grapes” at all.

Recall that “a people-eating land” contradicts the original report—and circa 20 other texts.

So, I suppose we’d have to conclude that unfaithful, disloyal, contradictory, emebllishers who were specified to present an evil report—a spiritual vision one not—whom God rebuked are to be considered reliable mystics and yet, what they claimed is still utterly unreliable.

There’s also no reason to think that “the Anakim and cities that they encountered were other-worldly” nor was Nineveh, since they then have instance after instance of actual on the ground, real-life, battles with Anakim—et al.

Geoffrey Tolle:

Thanks for the reference to your critiques. I have some issuof es my own problems with Heiser’s “scholarship” (mentioned in my Amazon reviews of some of his books). I’ll have to see what yours are.

Colen Poeppelmeyer:

Heiser’s work is what launched me into this kind of research. One should use his work as part of research. I have found so many papers, white papers as well as thesis papers that have confirmed many items. Like I said there a pattern of evidence pointing to the Nephilim and Watchers. Exploring the Temple writings is a great help as well.

Geoffrey Tolle:

Colen, Heiser has been insightful but I don’t rely on him for anything. A book that isn’t directly about the Nephilim, Rephaim, etc. but, rather, about Royal Judaism (Saul, David, Solomon) instead of Temple Judaism (the editors of the OT) is “the Older Testament” by Margaret Barker. It’s a very dense read but it will provide you many, many insights into obscure parts of the OT that you never knew existed including some of the many times that the meaning of words in the OT are simply uncertain or unknown.

Ken Ammi:

Gents, I would doubt that anyone in Nephilology related fields would dismiss Heiser out of hand yet, he’s not omniscient nor infallible.

FYI: I included Heiser in my book “The Scholarly Academic Nephilim and Giants.” [also see my articles Review of Amy Richter and Michael Heiser on four Enochian Watcher related women in Jesus’ genealogy and Rebuttal to Dr. Michael Heiser’s “All I Want for Christmas is Another Flawed Nephilim Rebuttal”]

Geoffrey Tolle:

A point that most commentators miss, in these passages, is the discontinuity between many of the lines.

The marriage context of 1-2 seems to have nothing to do with the spirit context of 3. The introduction of Nephilim in 4 seems to have no necessary connection with 1-2, 3 or even 4b or c. And, to move just outside this selection, 5 (wickedness of man) has no necessary connection to 4 (men of reknown). This strongly suggests that this passage is a grouping of originally disconnected line connected, by the editor, within an anti-angelic context later given much more unified context in “Enoch”.

I point this out because many of the conclusions proposed for understanding this passage are based on assuming that these lines originally occurred together. Separated, we have:

1) (1-2) The mingling of the divine (sons of god) with the mundane (daughters of earth).

2) (3) Yahoweh declaring a lifespan for men.

3) (4a) Introduction of the Nephilim.

4) (4b + c) Mingling of the divine and mundane with the birth of men of reknown.

5) (5) Intro to the wickedness of men.

Topic 2 appears to be completely disconnected from the other topics. This may have been included to highlight a conflict in the source of holy men in the ancient world. Although it is explicitly about reducing men’s lifespans by removing the ruach, it seems implicitly about the conflict between the Ruach Yahoweh and ruach from other ‘elohim.

Topics 1 and 4 do seem to be connected and seem to, originally, have been explaining how the semi-divine men of the world (Gilgamesh, Herakles, Samson, Saul, possibly Nimrod) came from. Note that there is absolutely nothing in these lines assigning any negative quality to these “hybrids”. Indeed, the term ha-shem (“of name”) was used, much later, as a title for God. Thus, there is also nothing to connect these men to the later “wickedness of man”.

In this context, topic 3, the Nephilim, stands out as disconnected. There must, however, have been an understanding of Nephilim that was understood by the editor. That is probably embedded in the phrase ba-‘eretz (“in earth”) which probably implies these were a people linked to the shaddim (earth or underworld gods).

Although we can more easily speak of later understandings of the beings mentioned in this passage, it is worth considering possible variant understandings of the original editor and even the underlying texts from which the editor took these lines.

Ken Ammi:

It seems to me that, by definition, the introduction of Nephilim in 4 seems to have utter connection with 2 which has connection to 1.

Also, wickedness of man would seem to relate to any and all men, of renown or not.

Since Gen 6:4 is the one and only reliable biblical reference to Nephilim then it’s tempting to agree that, “there is absolutely nothing in these lines assigning any negative quality to these ‘hybrids’” yet, with the exception I just noted, that they are actually connected to the later “wickedness of man” by (chronological and linguistic) definition.

I’m unsure that ba-‘eretz specifically implies “in” (as in “inside of” as in the underworld).

Geoffrey Tolle:

Ken, I don’t disagree that a connection can be made between the lines. I am simply pointing out that we may see the connections because the editors combined the source lines with that intent. The abrupt jumps between topics certainly suggests a significant possibility of a fusion of disconnected material or a loss of connecting material. It should, therefore, be considered when extrapolating from the passage. Small pertubations in the understanding of the original material can lead to extremely different conclusions about the nature of the original material. The divine, royal, and sethian interpretations presented in this paper are a good example of this.

And I agree that interpreting ba-‘eretz as a subterranian reference is only a possibility but, with so little other information on the Nephilim, different interpretations of the translation of the preposition “ba-” must remain in consideration.

Ken Ammi:

Indeed, good point about the “Small pertubations.” Biblical Nephilology is quite simple: they lived pre-flood, were parented by sons of God and daughters of men, for some reason they became mighty and well known, they didn’t make it past the flood in any way, shape, or form—period.

FYI: I just posted a review of Mondo’s paper.

Ginger Hayes:

Hi Joe LoMusio.

I happen to love studying Gen. 1-6 with all its complexities. I also have followed Dr. Heiser for several years. Your paper states the arguments well. Thank you for mentioning the ancient texts. I am curious about your take on the phrase “In those days.”


Joe LoMusio:

Genesis 6:1-4 just may be the most controversial text in the entire Bible. Who were the “sons of God,” the “daughters of men,” and the “Nephilim”? And was the Flood brought about because of them?

Robert B Lewis:

If I want to investigate some matter in the Hebrew Bible, I consult the Hebrew Bible. If I cannot unearth anything of value from that effort, I consult the ancient pre-biblical texts from Ugarit or lower Mesopotamia. Otherwise, I consult (when I can) the PhD with no religious ax to grind. I see that LoMusio has indeed quoted some very esteemed scholars to make his case; I’m not certain that all of them agree with LoMusio’s larger point, however, that these sons of God were angels, and he might have noted this.

The writers of the New Testament, and the later Church Fathers, were not in the business of biblical exegesis, rather, they were in the business of building their religion; in order to do so, they would necessarily need to perform their own version of eisegesis, a charge that LoMusio has leveled at modern exegesists. The fact is, that neither the word angels, nor the phrase angelic beings, can be found in Genes9s 6:4. Nor is there any support anywhere in the Hebrew Bible for angels capable of sex, in heaven or outside it. If the authors Genesis 6:4 had meant angels, why didn’t they just say angels?

That LoMusio chooses to concentrate his study on the meaning of the phrase “daughters of men” is unique to say the least, but not so helpful I’m afraid. One might better contemplate the word “divine”, since in terms of ancient pre-israelite religion, there were several categories of divine beings, including the deified kings in the various city states of the ancient Near East – in particular, the deified kings Ugarit.

It’s ironic that this section of Genesis is considered to be a snippet of ancient pagan myth, when in my estimation, Genesis 6:4 represents one of the least mythical parts of the primeval history; and seems to recount quite sucsinctly what looked like history to the Israelite scribes, i.e., kings (Nephilim, sons of God, warriors off old, men of renown; all the same category), who, according to the Sumerian Kings List, were on the Earth in those days, before and after the flood. The parsimony of Occam’s razor applies here.

KJ Soze:

Thank you for you paper, Joe. I think there is also a 4th view which is a hybrid of Merideth Kline’s divine kingship and Sons of God as angels. This is a demonic view of fallen angels who are joined with the physical realm through sex rituals such as sacred marriage rites. There remains occult rituals to this day that are used to contact the spiritual realm for greater power. The 4th view depicts “non-physical” intercourse of humans and angels.

The resulting offspring are mighty men such as Nimrod who was a mighty man, but still a man, not a hybrid demi-god. Also, we need to consider Numbers 13 with the sons of Anak as men, even though as giant stature. The leaders of clans and tribes in the ancient near east were often considered as sons of god, perhaps because of the rituals they performed as priest-kings.

Pharaoh was the son of Horus, Alexander was the son of Zeus, etc. They were not “physical” sons but sons in a spiritual sense to claim divine kingship. In other cases, in order to claim greater control over land regions and peoples, kings took for themselves multiple wives from many tribes. In any case, whether angels physically mated or indirectly mated through humans, it was a relationship between humanity and angels that caused judgment based upon this unholy union.

Joe LoMusio:

Hey KJ… Yes, thank you, and in fact I read your paper “Who are the Sons of God in Genesis? (Humanity’s Relationship to the Spirit Realm of Fallen Angels), and found it to be very well done, and I gained personal insight from it.

This is a provocative topic that solicits responses that are all over the map. But that’s what makes this site a great platform; one in which we all get to share our views and research and interact with one another. Thanks for your comments.

Ken Ammi:

Replies to those in this thread-segment:

Robert B. Lewis,

If I may: I discern an imbalance in your implication of placing trust in “the ancient pre-biblical texts from Ugarit or lower Mesopotamia” and “Phd with no religious ax to grind” (who’s that?) vs. “New Testament, and the later Church Fathers.”

This also touches upon that you seem to suppose you can know the motivations of various personages.

As is common to any and all languages, in terms of reading comprehensions skills and hermeneutics, “word angels, nor the phrase angelic beings” need not be “found in Genes9s [sic.] 6:4” for it to be speaking of just that.

It seems that you can only state, “Nor is there any support anywhere in the Hebrew Bible for angels capable of sex, in heaven or outside it” only after denying that such is precisely what Gen 6 is telling us.

Also, why would the Hebrew Bible say more about a done deal? When we plug Jude and 2 Peter 2 into this, we learn that the Angelos that sinned were incarcerated so, again, it was a done deal.

Asking about why “the authors Genesis 6:4…didn’t they just say angels” goes back to linguistics, reading comprehension, hermeneutics, etc. There’s no reason to restrict an author to using only those words we want to see post hoc. All languages offer many manners wherein to refer to any given thing.

Contextually, why “contemplate the word ‘divine’, since” it doesn’t appear in the text in question.

Biblically, there’s no reliable indication of post-flood Nephilim.

KJ Soze,

Referring to “a demonic view of fallen angels” creates a category error of sorts (this can actually get very technical, see:

Actual sex rituals would have to be between physical beings, such as humans and Angels, but not between one physical party and one spirit one such as demons. So, I empathize why you had to refer to “‘non-physical’ intercourse of humans and angels,” whatever that means, but again, by definition intercourse of humans and Angel would be physical.

Now, Nimrod has nothing to do with any sort of intercourse between humans and Angels nor demons.

Numbers 13’s reference to what you have as “sons of Anak as men, even though as giant stature” is just part of an unreliable “evil report” that no one should believe.

Joe LoMusio,

FYI: I’ve written nine [circa a dozen by now] books on such issues.

Jonathan Poletti,

No, that was the Holy Spirit. Jude is most direct about it, or so it seems to me, by likening the sin of Angels to those of Sodom and Gomorrah. 2 Peter 2 chronologically places their sin to pre-flood days, which fits the Gen 6 timeline.

Meanwhile, Creig Marlowe noted:


Think my previous reply was in the wrong place. Anyway I only mention Eek 28 and Isa 14 because they are always used by those who promote the sons of God as angels view. You did not to your credit.

Ken Ammi:

Those two texts are not about an Angel, but about a Cherub, see my elucidation here.

Colen Poeppelmeyer chimed in thusly:

There are many aspects in ones view of Gen. 6. There is a pattern of evidence found in the scriptures regarding the Watchers (fallen ones (angels), the giants and so forth. One needs to read Ps 82, Deut. 32 as well as other places. At times one must look at the 2nd Temple Writings, the Pseudepigrapha Writings, as well as the Book of Enoch. Do not be afraid to study these books. After all Enoch mentioned twice in the NT (2 Pet and Jude). I find what was written to be very helpful in understanding on the Jewish belief system regarding these beings. A couple of additional books may help” The Unseen Realm, by Michael Heiser and God at War by Gregory A Boyd. There is more to this subject as it is all through the Bible. Enjoy the research, as I am still studying about it.

Ken Ammi:

Indeed, see my book “The Apocryphal Nephilim and Giants.”

Heiser tends to create more problems than he solves: for example, see my two critiques of his views in my profile [the two I included above].

Edmund Lazzari:

There are many people here who have said many things. I just want to highlight several things I noted in my thesis chapter (please forgive the introductory style) that seem to be missing here, which is a good overview of scholarship, if missing a few contemporary perspectives. I am inclined to the Sethite position, though I consider the angelic position to be a plausible one for the reading of the text.

  1. These approaches make no mention of the Greek bias that shifts interpretational probabilities. Septuagint manuscripts sometimes had οι αγγελοι (“angels”) replacing בְנֵי־הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ (“sons of God”) and οι γιγαντες (“giants”) replacing הַגִּ בִּרִ֛ים (“the gibborim/the mighty ones”). Those early Christians who had υιοι του θεου (“sons of God”) in their text overwhelmingly choose the Sethite interpretation (only Tertullian is excepted) and those who have οι αγγελοι choose the angelic position. οι γιγαντες (“giants”) rather than הַגִּ בִּרִ֛ים (“the gibborim/the mighty ones”) massively changes the interpretation, especially if you read הַנְפִלִִ֞ים (“the Nephilim”) as incidental to the passage.
  2. The Greek bias continues in assuming that divine beings intermarrying with human beings is common in non-Greek Ancient Near Eastern Mythology. There are only three possible candidates in non-Greek Ancient Near Eastern mythology: Gilgamesh, Egyptian “god’s wives,” and the Ugaritic “Dawn and Dusk,” only the latter of which has an unambiguous divine being marrying human beings, noted for its strangeness. Gods just don’t do that in ANE mythology like they do in the Greco-Roman tradition.
  3. An important point in favor of this interpretation is that the construction בנ with a noun can denote membership in a category, even ontologically (Holladay Concise Aramaic Lexicon (Brill 1988), 42) However, outside of the construction בנ־האלוהים , both Solomon and the people of Israel are called sons of THE LORD in 2 Sam 7:14 and Deut 14:1, respectively, without necessarily entailing ontological membership in divinity.
  4. Read contextually, the narrative of Genesis shows the line of Seth and the line of Cain in roughly equal populations by the end of Gen 5. At Gen 6:5 and the undisputed start of the flood narrative, suddenly only eight righteous people are left on the face of the earth. Contextually, Gen 6:1-4 is the explanation for how everyone got so wicked. Coupled with the borrowing of language from the Atrahasis myth, where a flood wipes out a third of humanity after “humanity spreads on the face of the earth” and the continuity of vocabulary, it makes linguistic sense to read Gen 6:1-4 as a part of the larger Gen 6:1-7 introduction to the flood. What could the line of Seth have done to be so wicked? Contra your (LoMusio’s) point, intermarriage between the righteous and the wicked almost inevitably leads to the worship of false Gods in the narrative of the Hebrew Bible. Marrying people the narrative already knows are wicked is the most elegant way of accounting for the narrative change and respecting the integration of the passage to what follows.
  5. Obviously the biggest problem is the different use of הָֽאָדָָ֔ם (“ha-Adam/humanity”) in verse 1 than in verse 2. This, however, is mitigated by similar points where the Hebrew Bible sets apart a subgroup in contrast to a group that it is a part of. Judges 20:3 contrasts the sons of Benjamin to all the tribes of Israel and Jeremiah 32:20 contrasts the Israel with all of humanity. Similar imprecise use of groups as a Semiticism occur in Judg. 16.7; 1 Sam. 13.6, and Ps. 73.5 and most strikingly in Gen 6 when all of humanity is called wicked (verses 5 and 12) but Noah is excluded, despite being a part of humanity (verse 8)! Since this is right after our passage, it is fair to use it to interpret the preceding four verses.

For more details (and citations), see my thesis chapter, but I think these are the relevant lacking points from this approach. Again, I see that the angelic interpretation is a reasonable one, but you give rather short shrift to the Sethite position, which deserves more consideration than these scholars give it.

Geoffrey Tolle:

In your examples of ancient middle eastern divine children, don’t forget to include Cain (possibly – “I have gotten a man from Yahoweh. Gen 4:1), Samson, Isaac, and, of course, Jesus.

Robert B Lewis:

Ken Ammi, there is no “imbalance” in my choice between the 1st century Christian writers of the New Testament, and the original Israelite writers of Genesis 6:4. What you see as an imbalance, is simply a critical choice on my part. I do not trust that Christians of that time were simpatico with the ancient scribes on this issue; I am under no obligation to suspend my skepticism of Christian apologetics.

In fact, as scientists, we under a true obligation to be skeptical of all view points, even those we might agree with. And there are quite a few PhDs with a religious ax to grind, do you really need me to tell you that? They’re all over youtube.

As far as “understanding the motives of various personages”, I think it’s pretty clear what the motives of the New Testament authors were: salvation. That’s not the business we are working on here, is it? If the word “angels” is not in the text of Genesis 6:4, why would you assume that the text meant sex with angels and daughters of Men? The text is telling us nothing of the sort. It relates of sexual relations with “sons of God”, i.e. deified kings, who in terms of various ancient Near Eastern religious thought (Ugarit etc.), were understood to be sons of El; no angels need mentioning at all.

No doubt you would direct me to Job 38:7, but Psalm 82:6-7 seems more apt here, and leads me to ask: do angels die “like one of the princes”? Do you believe these sons of God are angels because of Jude or 2nd Peter?

These books have long been outed as pseudoepigraphs, not written by Peter or Jude, and you seem to be asking me to be “fair and balanced” toward texts which themselves seem anything but.

Ken Ammi:

Most interesting.

I didn’t imply an imbalance between “the 1st century Christian writers of the New Testament, and the original Israelite writers of Genesis 6:4” but, as I put it, “an imbalance in your implication of placing trust in ‘the ancient pre-biblical texts from Ugarit or lower Mesopotamia’ and ‘Phd with no religious ax to grind’ (who’s that?) vs. ‘New Testament, and the later Church Fathers.’”

Oddly, you note, “there are quite a few PhDs WITH A religious ax to grind” but I commented about “Phd WITH NO religious ax to grind” and merely asked, “who’s that?”

I meant that you accredit one side and discredit the other seemingly based on bias or prejudice—plus a touch of mind-reading.

In what field are you a scientist? Also, have you a premise form your worldview for assuming that skepticism is some sort of universal imperative?

Now, “why would you assume that the text meant sex with angels and daughters of Men?”: Job 38, Psalm 82 (“die ‘like one of the princes’” seems like losing their position, power, etc.), Jude, 2 Peter 2 (“outed as pseudoepigraphs, not written by Peter or Jude” is just a genetic logical fallacy—do those matter on your worldview?), the majority of the earliest Jewish and Christian commentators, etc.

You say, “‘sons of God’, i.e. deified kings” so I suppose I’ll ask: if the words “deified kings” is not in the text of Genesis 6:4, why would you assume that the text meant sex with deified kings and daughters of Men?

Robert B Lewis:

Why would I place more trust in the earlier, Mesopotamian and Ugaritic texts? Because they were written earlier and without all the “modern” religious concerns. Yes, they had their own religious concerns, but those shouldn’t interfere with our understanding of them much, and can and have been used quite effectively by lots of scientists for decades, to shed more light on the canonical Hebrew Bible.

As for PhD’s, sorry about the misunderstanding, but yes, there will be a number of PhD’s with and without religious axes to grind; I simply prefer the ones who do not have said axes. And it’s because of this alone, if for no other reason, that we scientists and scholars of the Bible (you included), especially, must take a skeptics view of scripture by default; unless what one is doing is avowedly not science, in which case, do as you please.

And no, I am not “crediting” or “discrediting” based upon prejudice, but upon, as stated, critical and thoughtful deliberation. How is that mind reading? By the way, isn’t playing “armchair psychologist” with Augustine, sort of prestidigitatious in its own right?

As for Psalm 82, no, Psalm 82 is quite explicit. They die….”like one of the princes”. Period. No wiggle room, unless everything is just willy nilly symbolic whenever you need it to be; in which case, I suppose any conclusion is possible. I think it’s interesting, the word “princes” here. It’s almost as if Psalm 82 is talking about royalty.

On Jude and 2nd Peter, yes, “gospels” written in bad faith, matter to my world view, since I always try as best I can to base my scientific conclusions on the best (and most honest) evidence possible. And yes, genetic logical fallacies matter to my world view as well. That these texts are pseudepigraphic in character, however, is no genetic logical fallacy, it’s contemporary scholarly consensus. You accept what you claim is early Jewish and Christian consensus. But is that true? And even if that were true, does that make these early sources right? Is there any danger of a genetic logical fallacy here?

You say “sons of God”, i.e. “angels” so I suppose I’ll ask again: if the word “angels” is not in the text of 6:4, why would you assume that the text meant sex with angels?

Ken Ammi:

I’m empathetic with wanting to assert that earlier is better by definition but well, they were written earlier and/but also with their own “ancient” religious concerns.

As for PhD’s, no worries but just be careful because if you show me an unbiased person, I’ll show you a corpse.

I’m unsure why anyone “must,” as a universal imperative, “take a skeptics view of scripture by default” nor why we do so or would be changed with “avowedly not” doing “science”—it seems you’re using that term to mean any sort of investigation or something.

I only referred to crediting/discrediting and mind reading since you seemed to claim to know private motivations.

My armchairing Augustine is based on knowing that one individual enough to seemingly be able to know why he was doing what he did.

You did likewise but with “the ancient pre-biblical texts from Ugarit or lower Mesopotamia” and “New Testament, and the later Church Fathers,” some of which pertains to utterly unknown personages.

But I’d wonder if there’d be an issue, on your worldview, if I was being hypocritical.

As for Psalm 82, I’m just applying the real-life, on the ground repercussions since, for example, it could have said they would die like your average Joe but specified princes—that’s all. And if we must discuss how ontologically incarnated Angels could “die” well, all we could do is speculate.

Keep in mind that in Daniel, the Archangel Michael is referred to as a “prince.” Yet, I do hold to that behind human sovereigns are spiritual sovereigns so that at time both are being addressed simultaneously or interchangeably.

Now, I asked about your worldview and you refer to that “‘gospels’ written in bad faith,” which is just an assertion, “matter to my world view” but you then make a subjective statement, “I always try…” which is not about your worldview but about your personal preferences du jour (based on hidden assumptions).

Of, perhaps you can elucidate how your worldview provides a premise for you to “base my scientific conclusions on the best (and most honest) evidence possible” as a universal imperative.

So you say, “genetic logical fallacies matter to my world view as well” but don’t say how nor why.

Dismissing their contents due to labeling them “pseudepigraphic in character,” based on an argument ad populum or not, is a genetic logical fallacy.

Indeed, I noted the early Jewish and Christian consensus which doesn’t necessarily prove anything but that there was a consensus. Thus, such is why I argue from the texts for the Angel view.

You ask again but you didn’t answer your own question and I already answered you.


Creig Marlowe:

Since Elohim is plural the translation could be “sons of the gods” and possibly refer to followers of idols (polytheists). You give no proof that the author of Genesis 6 had any knowledge of fallen angels. And a text like Isa 14 or Eek 28 has nothing to do with Satan. Intercourse between humans and spirit beings has always belonged to mythology.

Joe LoMusio:

Thanks Creig for your feedback. Your point on the literal translation of the plural of the phrase “Sons of God” is well-taken. The proof of the author of Genesis 6 may have been self-evident, and regarding your reference to Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, I never once brought them up. Not sure why you did? One further comment is you might have missed my point towards the end of the paper that mythology may have borrowed from this story (rather than the other way around), especially given the antiquity of it. Indeed, as Larkin suggests, this is where pagan mythology may have originated their stories, and of course, adding to and elaborating to fit their ever-expanding pantheons. It is an interesting idea.

Ken Ammi:

“could be” being the qualifying term.

As for Isa 14 or Ezek 28, please see this article.

Intercourse between humans and Angles does not equate intercourse between humans and spirit beings since Angles are not spirit beings.

LoMusio makes a good point which I would put as that after the Tower of Babel event what had been commonly known and shared history was spread around the world and eventually came to be called myth and legend.

Geoffrey Tolle:

Mr. Marlowe, I’m not sure how you intended the phrase “has always belonged to mythology”. I feel that it is more appropriate to say “has always belonged to religions”. There are myths that are not explicitly religious (though they may be spiritual) but many myth are religious beliefs from religions not your own.

Derek P Gilbert:

This is a fascinating topic that touches on all of Christian theology. The Nephilim, and the demon spirits that proceeded from them, influenced the pagan neighbors of Israel across the Mediterranean, from the Amorites to the Romans. Amar Annus showed in his 1999 paper “Were There Greek Rephaim?” that the demigod heroes venerated in Greece and Rome were the Rephaim of the Amorites and Canaanites. Even the name “Titan” derives from the Amorites–the Tidanu/Ditanu tribe mentioned in Ugaritic and Sumerian texts. By the time of the judges in Israel, they were believed to be an underworld assembly linked to the Rephaim. A temple to the “council of the   ” is mentioned in Ugarit.

The main issue with the Nephilim is not that they were exceptionally large, it’s that the neighbors of Israel venerated them, and drew the Hebrews into that cult of the dead. See Psalm 106:28–the sin on the plains of Moab that provoked God to send a deadly plague was not just the worship of Baal Peor, a name which meant something like “lord of the opening to the netherworld,” it was that the cult involved eating sacrifices offered to the dead.

Sharon and I focus on this in our book ‘Veneration.’ References to a cult of the dead are scattered throughout the Bible. The Rephaim Texts of Ugarit describe a necromancy rite that summons these “warriors of Baal” to the threshing-floor or tabernacle of El, the summit of Mount Hermon, where “the blessing of the name of El” would “revivify” the heroes. It seems unlikely that their arrival at the threshing-floors at dawn of the third day (KTU1.22:ii:21–25) is a coincidence. It gives new meaning to 1 Corinthians 15–the fallen realm wants the resurrection that has been promised to us and bought for us by Jesus Christ.

Ken Ammi:

Most interesting.

Yet, all indications are that the assertion that, “demon spirits that proceeded from” Nephilim is just folklore from millennia after the Torah was written.

For a Biblical view of who/what demons are, see “Demons Ex Machina: What Are Demons?

In noting, “the neighbors of Israel venerated them, and drew the Hebrews into that cult of the dead” you seem to be confusing Nephilim with (one of the usages of) rephaim.

Derek P. Gilbert:

Rephaim were venerated by the pagan Amorites as a sort of intermediate tier in the cosmological order between humanity and the great gods. At Ugarit, they were linked to the “council of the Ditanu,” who were believed to be the ancestral kings of several Amorite royal houses including that of Hammurabi of Babylon.

Isaiah describes the Rephaim as “leaders of the earth” and “kings of the nations.” Ezekiel refers to them as “chiefs of the gibborim.” The familiarity of Peter and Jude with 1 Enoch suggests that they held a favorable view of that text and its explanation of the origin of demons (which was shared by Hesiod, although the ancient Greeks had a much higher opinion of “daimones”). The “Travelers” of Ezekel 39:11 are probably the Rephaim, as that was an epithet of those spirits in one of the Ugaritic Rephaim texts (KTU 1.22 again).

That is at least circumstantial evidence that the Rephaim and Nephilim are the same group of disembodied spirits–demons–and that was the consensus belief among the early church until the time of Augustine.

Ken Ammi:

Recall that I noted “you seem to be confusing Nephilim with (one of the usages of) [the plural root word] rephaim.”

Yes, “Rephaim were venerated by the pagan…” but contextually, the Ugaritic sources inform us that recently deceased kings and heroes were referred to as such: kings and heroes. Yet, when they had been deal for a while, they were referred to as Rephaim. They were once living 100% humans who were later called by a different term—and the Pagan mythology was that they could be summoned.

Peter and Jude may (possibly) have “held a favorable view of that text and its explanation of the origin of demons” but such is never stated anywhere in the whole Bible. Yet, as you saw: I have constructed a Bible based theory about who/what they are.

If I really, really, really push it then perhaps maybe sort of, “Rephaim and Nephilim are the same group of disembodied spirits” but when alive, they had utterly nothing to do with each other, had no connection, no correlation at all in any way, shape, or form.

Also, I literally wrote the book but am unaware that “Rephaim and Nephilim are the same group of disembodied spirits–demons…was the consensus belief among the early church until the time of Augustine.”

See “The Paranormal in Early Jewish and Christian Commentaries: Over a Millennia’s Worth of Comments on Angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Satan, the Devil, Demons, the Serpent and the Dragon” and “What Does the Bible Say About Various Paranormal Entities?: A Styled Paranormology” and “What Does the Bible Say About Giants and Nephilim?: A Styled Giantology and Nephilology.”

Creig Marlowe:

Exegesis has to include the cultural context. In a case like cherub in Eek 28 what is in view is the sphinx of the king that guarded an entrance to the garden of his palace. Such statues with the body of a lion or bull and wings with the head/face of the king are well documented in the ANE. The original  audience would never have come away from the text thinking about Satan, only the King of Tyre.

Colin Hamer:

Hi Creig,

But the audience of Ezek 28 will have understood that Ezekiel was referencing events in Eden (as he says) and thus might well have connected the cherub/king of Tyre  to the serpent. John Ronning states (others say similar): “The figure of a supernatural serpent, or dragon, who is at enmity with God, was well known to the Hebrews and used without hesitation or introduction.” John L. Ronning, ‘The Curse on the Serpent (Genesis 3:15) in Biblical Theology and Hermeneutics’ (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1997), 141. Furthermore  gentile nations (e.g. Tyre) were thought to be ruled by other gods, thus Deut 32:8-9. And certainly Egypt – Pharaoh wore a serpent on his headgear. Ezek 25-32 seeTyre and Egypt on a par.

Edwin Stok:

In my humble opinion the Biblical Nephilim narration touches the foundation of our perception of all Biblical text, because it urges us to take a stand in a very fundamental discussion :

Should we take Biblical text literally ? Or is it open to different interpretations  -depending on if it suits our intentions- ?

Can one state that the Laws of Moses should not to be taken literally ? Are we free to put aside the First and Second Commandments if the content doesn’t suit us ? Can anyone state that the words of the Prophets should not be taken literally ? Ought we not take the teachings of Jeshua of Nazareth literally ?

It is my humble opinion that there is no way of not taking the Law (of Moses) and the Prophets literally.

I am just a layman on Church history and documentation. Plus I am not a native English speaker -thus making errors in choice of words and grammar. So, for me this is a balancing act. I consider it wrong to read anything else in the Bible texts than what is written. Even the term “Fallen Angels” is already a step aside from “Sons of God”.

The hard part is perhaps not that there were multiple Sons of God in Biblical History  (although the Christian Creeds, whether Protestant, Caltholic, Baptist, or else, are telling us that there is only one Son of God), but accepting that Biblical History only tells of Evil offspring of the Sons of God.

No mentioning of Good offspring of Divine creatures, but only evil ones. It brings to memory 2 Bible texts :

1 Sam 15:2-3  “Go and destroy Amalek. Kill everything and everyone; Man and women, children and baby’s.”

Josh. 6:17 “The whole city of Jericho and all that is in the city is for the Lord and has to be killed”.

Really ? Killing defenseless baby’s and children as an order of a mercyful and righteous God ? What moral value is left ? It contradicts one of the Laws of Moses : “Thou shall not kill”.

What is mankind worth if it spills innocent blood and even says it was a directive of God ? What is the moral value of a God who orders to spill innocent blood and leave no child or baby alive ?

My point is this : Perhaps we should not at all be surprised if the Sons of God had an evil offspring. At the same time, we should be grateful that God restored the balance after this offspring.

As it is repeated in every (kind of) war, at the end evil powers are defeated and mankind gets (again) a new start. And that closes my comments ;

Violence, bad genes and bloody disbalances are of all times, unfortunately. Not only Biblical history, but all of mankind’s history is full of it. It does not set aside my beginning argument :

The Bible, the Prophets and the Law are to be taken literally.

Ken Ammi:

1 Sam 15:2-3 and Josh. 6:17 have nothing to do with evil offspring of “Divine creatures.”

Categorically, there’s no commandment against killing but only against murdering.

Victor Hill:

It should be noted that some of the early church fathers (c AD 100‒400) made use of the writings of the Book of Enoch, either on a par with the Scriptures (marked with an *) or at the very least a suitable source of quotations, namely:

  • Justin Martyr*, born c AD 100 ‒ died c 165;
  • Tatian*, born c AD 110 ‒ died c 180;
  • Irenaeus of Lyons, born c AD 140 ‒ died c 202;
  • Clement of Alexandria*, born c AD 150 ‒ died c 215;
  • Quintus Tertullian*, born c AD 155 ‒ died c 220;
  • Origen, born c AD 184 ‒ died 254;
  • Lucius Lactantius, born c AD 250 ‒ died c 320;
  • Commodianus, lived c AD 250;
  • Minucius Felix, died c AD 250;
  • Methodius of Olympus/Philippi, died AD 311; and
  • Ambrose of Milan, born c AD 340 ‒ died 397.

The popularity of the Book of Enoch among the church fathers was chiefly due to its use in supportive arguments (polemics) with the pagan Greeks and gave tentative support for Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah/Christ with the Hebrews.

It is interesting to note that the Ancient Greeks had similar stories, whether these derived from Babylonian or Hebrew influence is uncertain, but the parallels are certainly interesting to note, for example:

  • Azazel, a demon leader, became Prometheus;
  • Shemihazah, a demon leader, became Kronos, the king of the Titans;
  • Enoch, the netherworld trekker, became Orpheus;
  • giants (i.e., Nephilim), the people of renown, became gigantes, the demigod heroes (and after death the dactyls, e.g., daimon, i.e., demons);
  • Nimrod, the king of Babylon, became Apollo;
  • fallen watchers, the angels who sinned became Titans; and
  • Yahweh, God the Father, was replaced by Zeus (Satan), the father of the (pagan) gods.

Later this affinity with Greek mythology and its doubtful authenticity would be used to criti-cise 1 Enoch which led to its later fall from grace within the church and subsequent rejection and obscurity.

The usage of 1 Enoch was opposed by Jewish teachers who believed that the giants were famous people such as rulers or judges, and this view was upheld by rabbis:

  • Simeon ben Yochai, born c AD 100 – died c 160;
  • Shlomo Yitzshaki, born AD 1040 ‒ died 1105; and
  • Moshe ben Nachman, born AD 1194 ‒ died c 1270.

The usage of 1 Enoch was opposed by later church fathers who believed that the sons of God were the descendants of Seth (Sethites) and the daughters of men were the descendants of Cain (Cainites) producing halfcast (e.g., mongrel, bastard, half-breed) offspring and corrupt-ed people’s beliefs (their heresies), an idea that was proposed by Sextus Julius Africanus (born c AD 180 – died c 250),  and this view was upheld by:

  • Hilary of Poitiers, born c AD 300 – died c 368;
  • Philastrius of Brescia, born c AD 330 – died c 397;
  • Jerome of Stridonium, born AD 347 – died 420; and
  • Augustine of Hippo, born AD 354 – died 420.

Refer: Book Enoch Victor Hill in Academia.

Ken Ammi:

Indeed, see my book “In Consideration of the Book(s) of Enoch.”

And “On the Genesis 6 Affair’s Sons of God: Angels or Not?”

Barnabas Yisa:

In answering any questions that arises from Gen 6:1-4, I suggest that the starting point should be the questions viz: Apart from Adam and Eve did God  create other living beings before the earth was created and are these beings granted access to humans: Are beings created by God apart from humans made to procreate through sexual process either endogenously or exogenously; and finally what was the nomenclature humans give to their leaders before the flood? Also should Gen. 6:1-4 be literally interpreted? If one can answer these questions honestly, then it may be understandable how to interpret  the verses in reference.

benth castberg:

Gen 1:1

In the beginning

God created

the heaven

and the earth.

Job 38:

4 Where were you

when I laid the earth’s foundation?

Tell me, if you understand.

5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?

6 On what were its footings set,

or who laid its cornerstone—

7 while the morning stars sang together

and all the angels shouted for joy?

Matt 11:

Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.


Ken Ammi:

The other verifiable living beings God create before the earth was created were “sons of God” and “morning stars” who witnessed the creation of the Earth, see Job 38:7 (as Benth noted and wherein the LXX has as sons of God/bene Elohim as Angelos)—perhaps Angels, Cherubim, and Seraphim.

It would appear that Angels were not “created by God…to procreate through sexual process” but they did so nevertheless.

Unsure about the nomenclature question.

There’s no reason to not take Gen. 6:1-4 as literal.

Ken Ammi:

Indeed, “the most ancient view…is the angelic/semi-divine interpretation”: pardon the pseudo-spam but I chronicled this fact in my book “On the Genesis 6 Affair’s Sons of God: Angels or Not?”

Indeed also, “the Sethite view gained acceptance mostly from the time of Augustine around the fourth-fifth century A.D.”: and if I may play armchair psychologist with Augustine, he converted to Christianity from Manichaeism and sought to divest himself off vestiges of it. Thus, since Mani held to the Angel view, Augustine rejected it.

One question to pose to the Sethite view is: why exclusively male Sethites and exclusively female Cainites?

The Angel view elucidates why exclusively male sons of God since, “we should understand that all angels are ‘male.’”

It was noted, “Jesus says that angels do not marry, but doesn’t say they cannot marry”: indeed and yet, we need not even go in that direction since His statements were specifically about the loyal, “Angels of God in heaven.” Such is why those who did marry are considered sinners, having “left their first” estate, as Jude put it.

This brings us to “the normal order of procreation, ‘everything after its own kind,’ is just that—normal. And what we are reading in Genesis 6 is clearly NOT normal!”: here I would argue that humans and Angels are of the same “kind.”

Angels look just like human males—without any indication that such is not their ontology, no indication they take on bodies, etc.

We were created “a little lower than the” מֵאֱלֹהִים / ἀγγέλους (Psalm 8:5).

And, granting the Angel view (backed most directly by 2 Peter 2 and Jude) we can produce viable offspring.

We’re of the same kind but they were not to mate with us—much like I’m the same kind with every woman on the planet but am not to mate with any except my wife.

Indeed, “both humans and the angels [and Nephilim] were punished”: and the term man/men covers them all since they are all referred to as such.

“Heiser sees the term however originating in Aramaic, from the term for ‘giants,’ which, of course, coincides with the Septuagint translation of gigantes”: yet, that begs the question “What does the vague, generic, subjective, and multi-usage English term ‘giants’ mean?”

Gigantes means “earth-born” (born of Gaia).

Heiser is using “giants” to refer to (subjectively) unusual height and/but to no one taller than circa 8 ft., which is in keeping with very, very few biblical references to height.

On the other hand, J. Edward Wright, Ph.D. (Director of the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Arizona) notes, “The term traditionally translated as ‘giants’ in both the Greek Septuagint (γιγαντες) and now in English is נפילים nephilim, a term based on the root נפל npl meaning ‘fall.’ It has nothing to do with size” and specifies that this goes for both Hebrew and Aramaic as “The root npl in Aramaic also means fall and not giants.”

franns diletta maceda:

Dear Joe,

Thanks for the invite.

Here’s a hasty and short observation – I agree the contrast between ‘daughters of men’ and ‘sons of God’ provides strong suggestion of sexual activities between human females and fallen angels.  This raises an interesting inquiry when i read’ It raises again the worst fears expressed at the close of Gen 3 (‘the man

has become like one of us. . . and now he might . . . eat, and live forever’) but in the new shape of gross physical contact between the sons of God and the beautiful daughters of humans. On the face of it, the human race could now be immune from mortality’

This suggest the tree of life (which many Christian analysts and regular believers believe as a symbol/gift of eternal life for accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior) was not the only source of immortality for humankind, which appears strongly inconsistent with the basic biblical truth that the God-man Jesus is the only author of eternal life.

Or the immortality conferred by the tree of life is different qualitatively from the immortality of the spawns between women and fallen angels, preserving the same conclusion of sexual congress between divine and n0n-divine beings

Second I do not understand how Coxen came to the suggestion of immortality of the products between women and angels.

A plain and simple reading of the text clearly does not imply any form or state of immortality , ‘3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide

in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.’

The text suggests these Nephilim can live beyond 120 years but not immortal and God limited them to 120 years.

Though French woman Jeanne Calment holds the longest documented human lifespan at 122 years so the view Noah build the ark for about 120 years simultaneously warning his wicked neighbors of the first rain for 120 years, is preferable and consistent God always tells the truth – the 120 years in Gen 6 is not about the limit of human lifespan.

Looking forward for more of your contributions

God bless your work

God bless your loved ones even more,

Franns Diletta

Creig Marlowe

see “Gen 6:1-4 as a Chiasm,” Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament: An International Journal of Nordic Theology 30:1 (2016): 129-44. Also in Other Voices in Old Testament Interpretation

Joseph Biddulph

First, we must acknowledge that this is by no means the only difficult passage in the Scriptures! They abound – in fact, some things appear to be scandalous. Without this difficulty, however, we might gloss over the text and not wrestle with it like wrestling Jacob, and I think that this wrestling becomes a valuable part of Scripture study – we are not required to find a complete, water-tight conclusion, any more than we can fully grasp the details of the Book of Job. See how the discussion makes us look closely at the Hebrew and grapple with the meanings of words! Would we do this if these difficulties were not there to challenge us?

The other element is mythology. Some commentators try to eliminate dragons, the Lamia, satyrs, Leviathan as neither hippo nor crocodile, etc. from the Scripture texts, but anyone with an understanding of the principles of heraldry will see the emblematic or heraldic significance here. If a dragon can symbolise everything inspiring it means to be Welsh, can’t a Scriptural dragon symbolise or indicate a similar truth or phenomenon?

If “symbolise” is the right word here?

Which brings us on to poetry – creative literature, if you prefer. I am working through a commentary on Proverbs which so far has not once stated that the proverbs are in metrical form in the Hebrew. The proverbs of many nations are often deeply literary – one might almost say, untranslatable. I have a book of Tamil proverbs (with “translation”) that indicates this. Just as the poetry of Robert Browning can be musical without us grasping the full meaning, so the Hebrew poetry can live outside semantics pure and simple: some of the effect is aesthetic. This aesthetic experience is defined in some Sanskrit sources as RASA, and exists independently from “what it’s supposed to mean”. Hebrew poetry achieves this in part through a very subtle system of sound harmonies – not simply alliteration and assonance, but much more – that I have dubbed the Hebrew Cynghanedd, after a similar if distinct system in Welsh. Another way of achieving it is through word pictures – the heraldry aspect – presenting to us vivid images which can be interpreted either in a number of different ways, or in many ways all at the same time. The Nephilim – even the word is pure music – may be seen as representing one of these?? (Please dismiss this thought if unacceptable!)

If therefore we attempt to juggle with these ideas without having a complete faith system to, so to speak, put Scripture in its place, we can run into the literalism and insistence on a narrow interpretation as found by many 19th century commentators. Once we see that Scripture is the LITERATURE of the Faith, we can be more tolerant of these difficulties, and enjoy them for themselves, knowing that the Almighty One whose Book this is has a relationship with us more immediate than this, and that the authentic teachers he has raised up for us can be trusted, in our search for Himself. To call Scripture literature is not to belittle it: it is to infuse it with another element on top of whatever else it is supposed to be. We are not only allowed to read carefully, we are also allowed to SING, and if wine gladdens men’s hearts, then we can feel free to be inebriated by the beauty of the utterance at the same time!

This may all be just a lot of rubbish, so please disregard as appropriate.  Happy Scripture Reading, everybody!

Joseph Biddulph, Pontypridd

Victor Hill

In the Old Testament the term ‘sons of God’ is only used to refer to angels. It is not until the New Testament that Christians are referred to as ‘sons of God’, bore there is no ambiguity regarding its usage in Genesis.

And that brought the discussion to an end.

See my various books here.

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