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Many interpreters see the sons of God as angels who had fallen from their heavenly estate. They were enticed by the women on the earth, cohabited with them, and produced offspring half-human, half-angels. This offspring, the Nephilim, corrupted the earth, causing God to send a Flood to wipe everyone out except Noah's family-those who had not been tainted by the angelic sin.
Ancient View The view that the sons of God were angels is very ancient. In the first century A. Later authors such as Philo of Alexandria early first century A.
Furthermore, many Christian interpreters also took this position. Fallen Out Of Favor The angelic view fell into disrepute among Christian interpreters from the fourth to the eighteenth century. Those who rejected the supernatural angelic reading did so because of theological objections that arose to angels cohabiting with humans. Different Groups Embracing It In recent times the angelic view has been embraced by those who believe the Genesis account is mythical, as well as Bible- believing scholars who reject the mythological view of Genesis. Each group holds this view for different reasons.
The liberal scholars, who reject the historicity of the Bible in many of its parts, feel the angelic interpretation in Genesis 6 is an example of the myths that were common among people at that time. The Bible-believers who hold to the angelic view do so because they feel it best fits all the evidence of Scripture. They strongly reject the idea that any part of Scripture is mythological. Furthermore many of them believe that the later myths that arose concerning angels and women producing monstrous offspring may have been derived from the actual occurrence as recorded in Genesis.
Response Though the angelic interpretation of Genesis 6 was an ancient view, it was not the only view in antiquity. Wayne Grudem explains: This understanding of Genesis 6 [the angel view] is frequent in extra-biblical literature, being attested in at least the following nine texts: Josephus, Ant. However, it is often not appreciated that such an interpretation of Genesis 6 is far from uniform in Jewish tradition.
The following list shows nine other texts where non-angelic interpretations are held: While Philo himself calls these 'sons of God' angels in one place, he later called them 'good and excellent men' Q. Moreover the Targums and the Rabbinic literature are unanimous in viewing the 'sons of God' as human beings. Targum Onkelos on Genesis and 4 reads 'sons of princes' or great men, and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan has the same.
Targum Neofiti has 'sons of the Judges' in both verses.
How did fallen angels and humans produce Nephilim?
Tosefta, Sotah 3: 9a interprets 'sons of God' as men of the generation of the flood. In the Midrash Rabbah, they are understood as 'sons of judges' and as leaders Gen. AD , or as the generation of men at the time of the flood. Symmachus translates Genesis as 'the sons of the rulers. And the citations in this second group are diverse and frequent enough to give strong indication of the existence of a 'non-angelic' view of the 'sons of God' in Judaism, especially more orthodox Judaism, before or during the time of the New Testament Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter , Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, IVP, , pp , Therefore the angel view was not the only position held in the ancient world.
Septuagint There is also the testimony from another ancient source. Some of the manuscripts containing Genesis read angels of God rather than sons of God. Response Only one manuscript Codex Alexandrinus reads angels of God. The critical editions of the Septuagint as well as two other ancient Greek translations read sons of God not angels of God in Genesis , 4. Therefore one cannot appeal to the Septuagint to support the idea of angels.
Apocryphal Books A third ancient source that testifies to this view are the apocryphal books books written during the biblical period but not accepted as Scriptural. C in chapters 6 and 7 says that angels lusted after human women and produced giants. The Book of Jubilees , dated B. Jubilees reports that these angels became consumed with lust and produced a race of giants The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs , 2 Enoch 18, and 2 Baruch 56 also testify that Genesis 6 speaks of angels being punished for their sin.
Nephilim: Fallen Angels, Giants or Men? - Parshah Focus - Parshah
Response How much credence do we give any of the apocryphal books? Though they are ancient interpretations they not on the same level as inspired Scripture. As we have already noted, the angel view was not the only one held in antiquity. These apocryphal books represent only one interpretation. Spearheaded by academic elitists in the university and the public educational system, the news and popular media, and the entertainment industry, these revisionists cloak themselves with supposed objectivity, purity of motives, and the superiority of science over the "uninformed", "unscientific", religious community.
They regularly mock those who question their world-view and their conclusions by name-calling and the worst forms of anti-Bible and anti-Christian propaganda. They have powerfully infected the church by turning Bible believing Christians against the very Scripture which is the foundation of truth and life in this world. Instead of contending for the Bible, Christian academics, pastors, and lay-persons are making egregious accommodations to these destroyers of faith and truth. In these days of intense spiritual battle, God has called ABR to step into the gap to contend for the truth and to assist the church in this critical hour.
ABR is a non-profit ministry dedicated to demonstrating the historical reliability of the Bible and to give answers to questions being asked by believers and non-believers alike. We do this by using original archaeological fieldwork and research along with studies in other apologetic disciplines. We take on the bold claims of skeptics and critics. We challenge the bizarre anti-biblical propaganda that is purveyed upon the public as gospel through television and print media. We uphold the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is God's message for the salvation of all mankind!