Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Happened When Humpty Dumpty Met the Sons of Gods

While I have presented this information in a paper, this post was inspired by a podcast by Credo House in their failed attempt to explain the difficult passages of Genesis 6:1-4, which speaks of the “sons of god” who TOOK women and had children with them:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:1-4
In their argument, they fail to include all the possible disjuncts (which I have listed below), thereby exhibiting poor scholarship. They leave out one of the most viable disjuncts, which is, as I will show later in the post, the best explanation. They argue that the sons of gods are actually “angelic demons,” and they tell us that well, the world is a crazy place, full of people that read Marvel comics and such, so demonic angels shouldn't be too hard to fathom. Ummm....except for the fact that we KNOW Marvel comics are stories from the imagination. They however, are claiming that these “demonic angels” were real. Big difference. This post will illustrate that the “demonic angel” theory of the Genesis 6:1-4 passages is NOT the best explanation, and is a good example of Humpty Dumpty semantics that can easily be put down with a bit of research and critical thinking.

For those that have already read some of my posts, they are most likely familiar with the term “Humpty Dumpty Semantics," but for those that are not, the term comes from the conversation Alice had with Humpty in “Through the Looking Glass”. Their conversation went like this:
"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' " Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!' "

"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master that's all."

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
"They've a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"*

Now, Lewis Carroll, the author of “Through the Looking Glass” was a logician, and what he was trying to illustrate when he wrote this, is that people tend to make words mean whatever they want them to mean, as opposed to what the words actually mean—case in point, the various meanings of the “sons of gods” in Genesis 6 which are given by various Christian groups. Firstly, the “sons of god” that most are familiar with actually reads “sons of gods” in the original Hebrew. 'B'nai Elohim' (sons of gods) is the plural of 'El' (god) Some Christians however, argue that 'Elohim' is not plural. But as Walter Beltz pointed out in “God and the Gods, Myths of the Bible," this is not necessarily the case:

“In the context of the ideological conflicts of the 6th century BCE, the word in its plural form incorporates all the conceivable Semitic “els” together with their theogonies and cosmogonies. The hand of the biblical writer then gradually shaped the abstract plural into an absolute singular, which is both a name and a pronoun.”**So, the notion of divinity underwent radical changes throughout the period of early Israelite identity, and the ambiguity of the term Elohim is the result of such changes. i.e. the re-interpretation of the gods of the earliest recalled period as the national god of the Jews as they emerged in the 7th to 6th century BCE in the Kingdom of Judah and during the Babylonian Captivity, and further in terms of monotheism by the emergence of Rabbinical Judaism in the 2nd century CE. The ancient Jews were in FACT polytheistic before Yahweh was made the top dog, and Yahweh himself had a consort named Asherah. The Bible supports the fact the Jews were polytheistic in many places, especially Jeremiah 11:13, which states the the Jews had as many gods as they had “towns in Judah.”

Some Christians have also argued that 'elohim' is plural, but claim that it makes reference to Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. However, this explanation further illustrates Humpty Dumpty semantics, as it is clear that the Jews who wrote Genesis 6 1-4, had no conception of Jesus or the Trinity.

Before matriarchy was eliminated in favor of a patriarchal system, goddess worship too was quite popular—even amongst the early Jews, and we can still find remnants of it in the Bible (the mention of Asherah poles for example). It would have been normal therefore, for the gods of the ancient Jews to mate with each other, as Walter Beltz makes note of in “God and the Gods, Myths of the Bible” :
”Only pious souls would have found Yahweh's sexual nature repulsive. After all, they knew that the sons of the gods had sexual relations with the daughters of men (Gen 6:1-4).***

There are various theories as to the meaning of the “sons of gods” which I will point out here.

They are:

1. The “sons of gods” means exactly what it says it means, which is “sons of gods.”
2. The “sons of gods” are idols, and the people who wrote it used to worship many gods, so they made this mistake.
3. The “sons of gods” are making references to men who are princes that mated with women from other tribes.
4. The “sons of gods” are descendants from the Sethite tribe.
5. The “sons of gods” are “angelic” demons.

I will come back to #1 at the end of this post, as I will show that it is the best explanation via the Best Explanation argument and Ockham's razor.

Number 2 is not the best explanation because the sons of god cannot be idols, since idols are things, and things cannot have children.

Number 3 is most likely a reference to sacred kings who invaded the arable Canaanite lands and conquered them. Kings that were not nomadic invaders, but rather invaders that had some connection with the invasions by the Cassities, Hittities and Egyptian Hyksos who conquered Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The rape of the daughters of men (i.e., TAKEN women) by the “sons of gods” (i.e. Sacred kings) refers to marriages between tribal princes and the indigenous sacred queens—who obviously had no choice in the matter.****

Number 3 is not the best explanation because distinction between royalty and commoners does not occur in the first eleven chapters of Genesis, and second, nowhere does the Old Testament forbid marriage between these two classes of people. This interpretation does not explain how the ungodly influenced the righteous to such an extent that the whole of humanity was deemed to be so wicked by god that he destroyed them all (except for a drunken sailor and his kin) in a global flood.

In Number 4, the interpretation of the meaning of “sons of gods,” is that they are the descendents of Seth—but this is purely speculative. It is based on the notion that the “sons of god” were of the “godly” Sethite lineage, whereas the women were of the UNgodly Cainite lineage. (Another example of the misogynistic thinking of those who claim this information has been “revealed” to them by a god.) In fact, the daughters of men could be anyone, and need not be “ungodly” at all. The “sin” in this case would be that men and women of different faiths were intermarrying, and marrying polygamously. While this interpretation explains the passage without creating any doctrinal or theological problems, it does so at the expense of accepted exegetical practices. This interpretation also does not provide definitions that arise from within the passage or which even adapt well to the text. Nowhere are the Sethites called the "the sons of God."(Gen. 4:25-26)

Number 4 is not the best explanation, and like Number 3, it is a weak explanation.

Michael Patton sticks with the classical indoctrinated view, and argues for Number 5 as being the best explanation. He argues in the podcast that the “sons of god” are angels that came to earth and mated with the women of earth, and this is somewhat supported by the apocryphal Book of Enoch (1Enoch 6) which states that 200 angels in heaven lusted after the beautiful daughters of men, so they TOOK them for their wives. These wives then got pregnant and bore the “giants” on earth (nephilim) Note, that regardless of the various interpretations, it does not state that the women of the passages in Genesis 6 had any choice in the matter, as they were TAKEN--as possessions are taken.

The angel interpretation fails when we consider Jesus himself states that angels cannot marry; ergo, they do not have children (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25.) Some Christians insist that these angels were working through demons in bodily form, and it was through the demons that they were able to procreate. This interpretation however, means that “sons of god” is used of demoniacs—and this has no parallel in Scripture. There is nothing in the Bible to support such a claim—it's a Humpty Dumpty explanation. In Job for example, Satan comes in the entourage of "sons of gods"(Job 2:1), which would mean that according to this interpretation, the sons of gods that presented themselves in front of Yahweh were demons in bodily form--which makes no logical sense. Satan is, according to the Jews that wrote the text, a "son of god" who can do nothing without Yahweh's consent. (This is a subject for another post..:) Furthermore, if the Hebrews that wrote the text meant angels, they could have easily have written the passage stating that it was 'angels' that TOOK the daughters of men, as they have a specific word meaning 'angels' (mal'ákh) but they did not. They specifically stated that the “sons of gods” (B'nai Elohim) TOOK the daughters of men and mated with them. Again. like the previous explanations, this one is weak and must "redefine" words Humpty Dumpty style in order to mesh their explanation with the text as written.

Christians claim there is only one "son of god" but the Bible says there are many "sons of gods." If they can claim that the sons of gods in Genesis 6 are angels, or princes, or Sethites, then when the Bible makes reference to Jesus being a "son of god" then perhaps Jesus is an angel that has taken on human form, or he was a prince, or perhaps a Sethite.

As a pragmatist, I go by the best explanation, and none of the above applies as being the best explanation in this case. The best explanation for the 'sons of gods' is that they were exactly that—sons of gods. The best explanation for these passages does not require Humpty Dumpty semantics. All we need do is read the Bible as it is written.

As mentioned above, the ancient Jews were in FACT polytheistic before Yahweh was made the top dog, and Yahweh himself had a consort named Asherah. The Bible supports the fact the Jews were polytheistic in many places, especially Jeremiah 11:13, which states the the Jews had as many gods as they had “towns in Judah.” Yahweh also consults with the “other gods” in order to keep the Tree of Life away from Adam and Eve in order to prevent them from becoming gods, like THEM. (Gen. 3:22) Therefore, since the Bible indicates that the Jews worshipped multiple gods and goddesses, the best explanation is that the “sons of gods” means exactly that—sons of gods.

In fact, Genesis 6:1-4 belongs to the Lay Source dating from about the 10th century BCE, and is very similar to Greek mythology which depicts “sons of gods” having sex with mortal women and bearing giants. (Zeus, son of Kronos mated with the mortal Alcmene and bore Heracles/Hercules—the giant) The Biblical myth concerning the “sons of gods” also does not concern itself with the “Fall of Man” or any curses, and makes no bones about the act of sex—whether it be human or divine. The priestly interpolation of these passages into the text and Yahweh's resulting displeasure, was their attempt to have us see this story as the reason for the forthcoming flood*****—but this story does not fit with the flood myth very well, as it must be altered, and “Humptyized” in order to accommodate it.

Therefore, when Humpty Dumpty met the sons of Gods, he went, “I am the master of them all!!” Yahweh, as usual, came up impotent

**God and Gods, Myths of the Bible, Beltz, p. 36
***Ibid., p. 57
****Ibid., p.41
*****Ibid., p.41


Anonymous said...

This post is too complex; no Christian will read it.

A is for Atheist said...

@anyonymous--Well, that says a lot about Christians then doesn't it.

The post is straight forward and simple. What you are implying is that Christians are too lazy and uneducated to be bothered--which might be true. This would also imply that they will believe whatever they are told because they are too lazy and too uneducated to bother investigating the claims that are being made.

The fact of the matter is, I have taught many students that were Christians and they were able to understand this material. Also, more than a few of them left Christianity after learning the "truth" of the matter.

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