It makes sense to commonsensically point out that “Giants = Giants,” right?
TJ Steadman asks, “Were the Nephilim giants invented by ancient Israelites, or are there other reliable sources that back up the Biblical claims?” which, as my regular readers well, know must primarily be answered with a question: what does he mean by the undefined, subjective, generic, and vague English word “giants”?
He references, “the Septuagint, or LXX, translated in the 3rd – 2nd centuries BC” and notes that “today’s Bible (if you have one that actually translates the words instead of employing transliteration) preserves the same meaning that the Greeks of that day understood. When they said ‘giants,’ they meant it the same way we moderns understand it – Very Big People.” So now, note carefully, we got TJ Steadman’s definition of “giants” (even if the term “Very Big” is as subjective as “giants”) but we do not have the LXX’s definition.
He further notes, “That translation in the LXX achieves more than just to inform us that the Anakim were tall by association with the Rephaim (translated ‘gigantes’ in the Greek). Because the same Greek is used to translate the earlier 6th century BC Aramaic ‘Naphilin’ (plural form of Naphila, which means ‘giant’) which was preserved in the Hebrew Bible as ‘Nephilim.’”
One reason that pop-researchers are successful is that it is very simple to write such succinct statements and it is a lot more boring and time consuming to write and read analyses of such.
The Bible, in any version, tells us that Anakim were “tall” (even if the term “tall” is as subjective as “Very Big” and “giants”). Yet, we know they were “tall” contextual to the average Israelite male who in those days was 5.0-5.3 ft.
TJ Steadman thinks that “Anakim were tall by association with the Rephaim,” Anakim were a Rephaim subgroup, yet because the word “Rephaim” is “translated ‘gigantes’” but that is not a translation, it is a rendering.
This is also a case of the word-concept fallacy whereby we are supposed to think that they were whatever gigantes/giants/very big means because such is how the name of the people is rendered.
Living in modern day North America, I have been called a giant many, many, many times and I am only 6 ft. even.
Consider that the LXX also renders “Nephilim” as gigantes and also “gibborim” as gigantes. This proves that Rephaim was not being translated as gigantes since neither the etymology or morphology of words as different as Nephilim, Rephaim, and gibborim cannot all be translated with the single word gigantes.
Also, gigantes implies nothing about unusual height since it merely means “earth-born.” Thus, etymologically the English word “giant” also does not imply anything about unusual height even if later usage implies as much.
Now, he claims, “the same Greek is used to translate the earlier 6th century BC Aramaic ‘Naphilin’” he is doing so because Dr. Michael Heiser, graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., Ancient History) and the University of Wisconsin- Madison (M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies) and Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software, claims that “Naphila [generally transliterated a naphiyla], which means ‘giant’” by which Heiser means not taller than 8 ft. or so.
et, this is a style battle of the credentialed experts since J. Edward Wright, who is the J. Edward Wright Endowed Professor of Judaic Studies and 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” (Private communique, July 2019).
Yet, the bottom line is that pop-researchers such as TJ Steadman suffer from Gigorexia Nervosa: an obsession with seeking “giants” and inventing them when they are nowhere to be seen.
In any case, his argument is if (and that is a big IF) the word “Nephilim” derives from the Aramaic naphiyla rather than the Hebrew naphal: fallen, to fall, etc.
You can find all of my articles regarding TJ Steadman here, including out debate.
Learn more in my various books about Nephilim related issues.
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