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Review of Randal Rauser’s: The Problem of Canaanite Genocide and Michael Heiser’s Solution

Randal Rauser (“a systematic and analytic theologian of evangelical persuasion…BA (Trinity Western University) and an MCS (Regent College)”) posted an article titled The Problem of Canaanite Genocide and Michael Heiser’s Solution which begins by noting that since his book, “Jesus Loves Canaanites was released, I have been asked on several occasions about Michael Heiser’s claim that the Canaanite conquest should be viewed as an attempt to eradicate subhuman descendents of the nephilim.”

Now, the bottom line of Rauser theses in Jesus Loves Canaanites is that such instances of conquering aren’t Christ-like so they didn’t happen. It’s basically a world-class text-book classic case of hyper-eisegesis (reading one’s preconceived notions into texts).

Ergo, he takes issue with the exegetical (letting texts speak for themselves) and with Heiser’s view which is actually also a case of eisegesis.

As my recent readers will know from my article Review of Micheal Heier’s “The Giant Clans and the Conquest”, Michael Heiser argued as follows (and as Rauser quotes it):

My view is that it wasn’t indiscriminate at all, and that wholesale genocide wasn’t the point of the conquest. Rather, the command of to “devote to destruction” (herem/kherem) was focused on the giant clans (denoted by words like Anakim, Rephaim, and, occasionally, Amorites).

That is, I believe the rationale for the herem was to eliminate the Anakim, the vestiges of the nephilim (.Num 13:32-33), since those peoples were perceived to be (and were, in some way, according to the OT) raised up by rival gods hostile to Yahweh (and thus their own purpose was to prevent Yahweh’s people from kickstarting the kingdom of God on earth).

Other people were certainly killed, since the giant clans were scattered among the general population, but I contend the conquest rationale was framed by the urgency to eliminate the nephilim bloodlines.

This is textbook “mythic history” (actual historical events framed by, and articulated in light of, theological rationale / beliefs).

Rauser’s view is that Heiser’s view is, “a genocide sourced in ontological inferiority” since it’s a case of that it’s a-okay because they weren’t fully human. Ergo, this comes down to, “what evidence is there that the Canaanites were subhuman and dangerous descendents of the Nephilim?”

His first point only causes problems, “I am aware of no fossil evidence from paleoanthropology to support the claim that there was a large group of subhuman giants living in the midst of Homo sapiens in the Near East.” That is a jump to a merely asserted vague conclusion.

The key questions are:

What’s the usage of the vague, generic, subjective, multi-usage and modern English word “giants” in English Bibles?

What’s Randal Rauser’s usage of the vague, generic, subjective, multi-usage and modern English word “giants”?

Do those two usages agree?

The same could be asked of Heiser (and I asked—and answered—in my article about him). We don’t get an answer from Rauser so I will infer that he implies something to do with subjectively unusual height of some or another level.

Ergo, the answer to the third question is, “No.” That is because the answer to the first one is that it is merely rendering (note even translating) “Nephilim” in two verses and “Repha/im” in 98% of all other instances—and never even hints at anything to do with height whatsoever.

Thus, biblically contextually, “group of subhuman giants” would read as, “group of subhuman Nephilim.” The problem with that, for Randal Rauser’s argument, is that it would mean that he’s unaware of fossil evidence of personages whom we could not identify from such evidence since we’ve no reliable physical description of Nephilim and so no reason to assume they were taller than the subjective average (with the additional problem of how much taller if we even grant that).

He also argue, “the Canaanites could clearly procreate with Homo sapiens…That would certainly support the conclusion that they were human beings.” Yet, that is a non-issue since Angels are always described as looking like human males, we were created “a little lower” than them, and we can reproduce with them so, by definition, we’re of the same basic “kind.”

Jude correlates the sin of Angels to sexual sin which occurred after the Angels, “left their first estate,” and there’s only a one-time fall/sin of Angels in the Bible.

Also, the original, traditional, and majority view among the earliest Jewish and Christians commentators, starting in BC days, was the “Angel view” as I proved in my book, On the Genesis 6 Affair’s Sons of God: Angels or Not? A Survey of Early Jewish and Christian Commentaries Including Notes on Giants and the Nephilim.

He also notes, “descendents of the Canaanites live today throughout the Near East and they are definitely human. Just look at their DNA.” Thus, part of his point is that, “Human beings have a long history of dehumanizing human out-group populations and seeking to justify that dehumanization by attributing to the out-group a range of circumstantial factors” such as, “ontological factors (e.g. ‘They are less than human!’).”

He is correct on this point and how it ties in with Heiser’s assertions. Those who appeal to the not fully human angle in order to defend God from ethical charges make thing doubly worse: they first deny what the biblical texts actually say, they invent things they don’t say, and those whom they seek to convince that God’s not a bad guy can suss it out and end up (flaccidly) condemning God and the person to misrepresented Him.

See my various books here.

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