Thursday, March 05, 2015


This is a surrejoinder to Bnonn's rejoinder: 

To our knowledge, alternative readings are late innovations in the history of understanding the text. That lends prima facie weight to the traditional reading.
A problem with appealing to Second Temple literature is that, during the Intertestamental period, there's blatant syncretism between Gen 6:1-4 and Greek mythological cosmogony or theomachy. Some Jews assimilate Gen 1 6:1-4 with a war in heaven between the Titans and the Olympians:  
Not by youths was their champion struck down, nor did Titans bring him low, nor did tall giants attack him (Jdt 16:6, NABRE). 
For their hero did not fall at the young men's hands, it was not the sons of Titans struck him down, no proud giants made that attack (Jdt 16:6, NJB). 
And the allophyles came and converged on the valley of the Titans (2 Sam 5:18, cf. v22; LXX). 
Occupying the valley called that of the Titans (Josephus, Antiquities, 7:71).

And then afterward again
Oppressive, strong, another second race
375 Of earth-born men, the Titans. All excel
In figure, stature, growth; and there shall be
One language, as of old from the first race
God in their breasts implanted. But even these,
Having a haughty heart and rushing on
380 To ruin, shall at last resolve to fight
Against the starry heaven. And then the stream
Of the great ocean shall upon them pour
Its raging waters. But the mighty Lord
Of Sabaoth though enraged shall check his wrath,
385 Because he promised that again no flood
Should be brought upon men of evil soul (Sibylline Oracles, Bk. 1).

130 And then the generation tenth appeared
Of mortal men, from the time when the flood
Came upon earlier men. And Cronos reigned,
And Titan and Iapetus; and men called them
Best offspring of Gaia and of Uranus,
135 Giving to them names both of earth and heaven,
Since they were very first of mortal men.
So there were three divisions of the earth
According to the allotment of each man,
And each one having his own portion reigned
140 And fought not; for a father's oaths were there
And equal were their portions. But the time
Complete of old age on the father came,
And he died; and the sons infringing oaths
Stirred up against each other bitter strife,
145 Which one should have the royal rank and rule
Over all mortals; and against each other
Cronos and Titan fought (Sibylline Oracles, Bk 3).
Back to Bnonn:
If 2 Peter 2 and Jude are referring back to Genesis 6:1-4, as they appear to be…
There's nothing in the actual wording of 2 Pet 2 or Jude which either states or implies an allusion to Gen 6:1-4. 
We know next to nothing about the abilities of the sons of God, save that they are literally godlike.
They're "godlike" on Heiser's interpretation, but of course, that's not something I grant. For instance, in his commentary, Sailhamer thinks "sons of God" alludes to the immediate origin of Adam from God whereas "daughters of men" alludes to the mediate origin of Eve from Adam. One can debate that, but it has contextual merit. 
Under biblical anthropology, human beings are a composite of spirit and matter. Is there some reason—some definitive, scientific reason—that the sons of God could not form human bodies to inhabit, or take human bodies to inhabit, in much the way that demons inhabit people?
i) To begin with, the text doesn't say or imply that the "sons of god[s]) took possession of human males. 
ii) But let's  play along with that scenario for the sake of argument. Suppose a demoniac fathers a child. In fact, given the prevalence of possession at sundry times and places, it wouldn't surprise me if some mothers or fathers are demoniacs. 
Assuming, however, that you're the child of a demoniac, that doesn't make you a genetically-enhanced human being. You don't have an upgraded body because your father and/or mother was demonically possessed at the time you were conceived. Is the child of a demoniac a hybrid physical specimen? 
Mind and body are two distinct domains. At most, there'd be some psychological rather than physical transference. The child of a demoniac might be mentally ill, or have paranormal abilities (e.g. ESP, psychokinesis).  


  1. Steve, would I be correct in saying that, in a sense Bnonn is maximalizing the role of non canonical lit and you are minimalizing it? I lean in your direction, but I leave it an open question whether Heiser is right. I would also be interested to hear how you interpret the Divine Council texts in the OT. I find Heiser's understanding it Psalm 86 to be pretty convincing.

    In Christ,

    Blake Reas

    1. I simply view the divine council texts as referring to God and the angels. It's a somewhat anthropomorphic description, like a king with his courtiers. The royal court with God's angelic retinue.

      But, of course, it has a basis in fact.

  2. I lean toward Heiser's view but there do seem to be some apparent discrepancies. For example, in the OT Heiser believes the "sons of God" are a separate species distinct from regular angels. Yet, he cites Jude 1:6-7 where he argues on grammatical grounds for the sons of God committing some sexual sin analogous to the sexual sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. But in that passage Jude refers to the *angels* NOT to the *sons of God*. Did Jude not know of Heiser's distinction? I suppose Heiser's interpretation could still be true even if Jude doesn't make a clear cut distinction between the two species (regardless of whether Jude knew of the distinction or not).

    But that kind of inconsistency reminds me of how proponents of Anglo-Israelism/ British Israelism claim the term "Jew/Jews" refers ONLY to descendants of the house of Judah even though the New Testament uses the term for a descendant of any of the tribes of Israel (!). But I suppose the term "angel" could have expanded or became less specific sometime during or after the intertestamental period.

    Also, if the sons of God are (presumably) of a higher rank and/or authority than regular angels, how are they more capable of cohabiting with humans even though angels are pure spirits? Presumably, (prior to God's revealing His redemptive plan to save sinful humanity to a position higher than the angels [Heb. 2:5-8]) the closer you were ontologically to God, the more spiritual and the less physical you were. Or maybe this is just a manifestation of a neo-platonic scale/chain of being assumption on my part.

    Regarding the divine council, Heiser sees parallels between the Biblical teaching and the various Canaanite and other Semitic pantheons. If these other pantheons also taught a cohabitation of divine beings and humans, then wouldn't that predate Greek mythologies of cohabitation?


    For anyone interested, I've gathered some material by Heiser on the topics of the Defending the Trinity and Ufology