The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s statements in view are from a Q&A section within their site wherein they were asked about the Nephilim, March 10, 2015 AD.
The question is tripartite: 1) “Who were the nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4?” 2) “Were they offspring of fallen angels or fallen human children of God?” 3) the third one is presuppositional “And how did the Nephilim survive the Flood?”
The reply begins with a statement with which I agree 1,000%, “These verses have generated more than their share of imaginative interpretations and have become a breeding ground for fantastic speculation.” I will add that most of what is being stated on this issue, especially by the big name within the field of research related to Nephilim, giants, “Christian UFOlogy,” etc., is saturated with misinformation: whether on purpose or by accident is another issue.
SONS OF GOD AS ANGELS
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod lists a “More Bizarre but Less Likely Option” which is also “The less plausible” one that “Genesis 6 is talking about fallen angels (‘sons of God’) who impregnated select beautiful women (‘daughters of men’) and the demon-human offspring (‘the Nephilim’) were giants in stature and accomplishment prior to the Flood. I will pause here to compare to my views on the matter.
The Angel view of the Genesis 6 affair is the original and majority view of the majority of early Jewish and Christian commentators, see Early commentaries on Genesis 6: Angels or not? – interactive chart.
Yes, the text is about fallen angels / sons of God and about human women / daughters of men.
Now, as to “demon-human offspring” I would say “Angel-human” is directly accurate but the issue of demons is another matter. I will lay out my view on demons in an upcoming book.
That they were “giants in stature” comes from that fact that some translations translate “Nephilim” (as well as a couple of other Hebrew terms) as “giants” which is a generic term that only means taller than average (with the average male Hebrew of those days being 5.5 ft.).
So you can see how quickly this issue gets complex, confused and compounded with relevant and yet side issues.
Recalling that presuppositional portion of the question note the presuppositional reply, “Since Nephilim are spoken of after the Flood (Numbers 13:33), this race of giants somehow survived the Flood (or was restarted by another, post-Flood, demonic invasion with sexual unions with humans).” I hold to the Angel view but not the demon view nor the “giant” view nor to the post-flood view whether as per survival or restart.
The article goes on to specify that in post-flood times, “The term Nephilim need not refer to a specific race or tribe, but to people who bore the same general characteristics” yet, this is an unnecessary statement. We are then told that “The Philistine warrior Goliath is probably the best known example of an aggressive giant (1 Samuel 17:4).” Note that Goliath is taller in Greek that he is in Hebrew as due to manuscript discrepancies his height ranged from circa 6.7 ft. to 9.8 ft. The article finishes the Goliath thought by noting, “but there is evidence that people of exceptional size lived in various parts of the world through most of history.” Indeed, we cannot concoct an equation to the likes of tall=Nephilim.
For details on the Numbers 13 issue, see Did Caleb and the spies see Nephilim giants in the land?
The article also notes, “the idea of angels being capable of, interested in, or allowed by God to impregnate humans is simply foreign to the rest of Scripture” with the exception of Jude and 2 Peter 2 which they do not mention—see Nephilim in 2 Peter and Jude.
The article also make the carefully worded statement, “The words of Jesus in Mark 12:24-25 lead us to conclude that angels are not sexual beings the same way humans are.” Many who deny the Angel view actually assert that not only are Angels not sexual but cannot be so. The article is allowing for it yet, not in the same way humans. Jesus’ statement was that when people “shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven” so that the loyal ones do not.
Another statement with which I agree 1,000% is that “This scenario, of course, is exciting stuff that grabs people’s attention. Superhuman giants! Hybrid creatures!” which may actually explain why there is so very much misinfo involved because if you are going to go big you might as well go huge. Actually, it may be more the case that some people have built their “ministries” upon the issue of Nephilim, giants or both and you can imagine that on a day to day basis they would have nothing to do (not on a millennia by millennia basis for that matter) and so what to do but aggrandize, exaggerate, make much ado about nothing, etc.
SONS OF GOD AS SETHITES
Now, after having stated that which they did, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod states outright that “stated honestly, it is grammatically and linguistically possible to arrive at this conclusion through a reading of Genesis 6:1-4” so that “To say this view is utterly impossible or flagrantly contrary to Scripture is perhaps an overstatement”—it is definitely an overstatement.
Then is offered a “Less Bizarre and More Likely Option…less exotic understanding” which is that the Sethite as “sons of God” and Cainites as “daughters of men” view.” This is said to lead to “a deterioration of religious principle, but also in aggressive children who became strong in activity and reputation (‘the Nephilim’).”
This may be “less exotic” but not “Less Bizarre” after all why only male Sethites and only female Cainites and not an admixture of the two as in some of each gender form each group. The Angel view actually explains this since biblically Angels look like human males.
This view also assumes that all of the male Sethites involved were righteous and all of the female Cainites were unrighteous, that ell male Sethites gave into their wives and that as a result all of their children deteriorated the religious principle and were also aggressive. There seems to be no logical, theological or biological reasons for this conclusion. However, I do agree that what Genesis 6 is telling us about the Nephilim is not that that they were “giants” in height but “strong in activity and reputation.”
TAKE A PICK
The article ends with that which the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod considers “The Preferable Option” which is “the relatively obscure references in Genesis 6 should lead us to advocate no preference between them” and yet, “we may prefer the view about believers compromising religious principle through bad choices.”
It is noted that “This reason is more theological than textual or exegetical” which goes back to the point about the “grammatically and linguistically possible” Angels view and goes on to admit that “This way of deriving the meaning of a text is not adequate in and of itself – but when the conclusion is fully compatible with everything else the Bible says on a given subject, it may be seen as preferable.”
Fair enough, however I would say that this may be a case of affirming the consequent whereby it is concluded that the Sethite view is “fully compatible with everything else the Bible says on” the “given subject” of believers compromising religious principle if, and only if, the text is speaking of believers compromising religious principle in the first place.
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