The Lunatic Gospel: Genesis 6

25 07 2009

Click here to read the text of Genesis 6.

I have a really hard time believing in Nephilim. Angels make sense to me most of the time. Devils even make sense to me a good bit of time. But Nephilim? Not so much. They tend to fall in the same category as fairies and nymphs and gnomes.

But, here it is in the Bible — “the Nephilim were on the Earth in those days” –written out as uncontrovertible fact. So what do you do with that?

Option 1. Dismiss it as legend. The Israelites were undoubtedly influenced by neighboring cultures in the Ancient Near East. Somewhere along the line, they swapped stories over a campfire, and BAM! Remnants of this fantastic story pop up for a few verses at the beginning of the Bible. Fast-forward several thousand years, to a time when we modern folk have a much more enlightened theology, and it becomes easy to just overlook them.

Option 2. Revert to traditional theology/angelology explanations. The “sons of God” were actually fallen angels who contributed to the immorality of the era by having sex with humans. The flood was actually God’s chance to wipe out the Nephilim.

A doctored photograph, commonly used as naturalistic evidence for the existence of Nephilim

A doctored photograph, commonly used as naturalistic evidence for the existence of Nephilim

Option 3. Search for naturalistic evidence that the Nephilim once existed. Giant humanoid skeletons prove this point especially well. These verses are actually an etiological explanation for an actual race of giants. Alternatively, use ufology to understand the Nephilim as aliens.

Somehow none of these options quite satisfy me. So instead, I choose Option 4: Continue thinking about it,wondering, imagining. And, if I ever make it to the Book of Numbers, revisit the issue when the Israelites meet up with the descendants of the Nephilim.

But here’s the thing. Nephilim are described as the “heroes of old, men of renown.” And yet, they are inextricably tied up within the greatest wickedness that the Earth had ever seen. (It doesn’t ever actually say that the Nephilim themselves are evil, but the implication seems to be–and traditional theology follows–that the Nephilim were not exactly on the up-and-up with God)

And this etymological explanation concludes that the word Nephilim can be interpreted to mean both “the Fallen Ones” and “the Marvelous Ones.”

Sometimes ungodly things are pretty. Sometimes – often, in fact–sin feels good. And so in a sense, this chapter begins yet another very human trend: we revere the wicked, lust after that which is most harmful for us, and marvel at what is fallen.

(originally posted 6/7/08 at



One response

27 07 2009

I’m a huge fan of supernatural conspiracy theories, and especially enjoy the epic of the Watchers, Nephilim, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, and the Flood. I think a Lord of the Rings style trilogy depicting these events (with much creative license, of course) would be awesome. Tie it in with Gilgamesh the Giant, The Greek Titans and their progressive generations of offspring, and of course Atlantis. The good Watcher Gabriel was sent down to pit the clans of Nephilim against each other, culminating in the great war between Atlantis and pre-Japethic Athens.

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