By ancient Near Eastern standards, someone is considered a giant if they are over six feet tall. (People were shorter back then.)
– Thom Stark, The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When it Gets God Wrong (And Why Inerrancy Tries to Hide It) (Wipf & Stock, 2010), p. 78, no. 14.
What are these ‘ancient Near Eastern standards’ for the height of a ‘giant’? Where are they found? In fact, what texts from the ancient Near East ever mention a species called ‘giants’?
Maybe Thom Stark was merely claiming that anybody over six-feet tall would be considered very tall in the ancient Near East – which is probably true. However, the text on which is commenting, Gen. 6.1-4, does not, as he acknowledges, merely describe some particularly tall people. Instead, it describes the hybrid offspring of the ‘sons of the gods/God’ and the ‘daughters of men’. In Num. 13, these same ‘giants’ (Nephilim) are described as possessing extreme height, making the Israelites appear like tiny grasshoppers. So, we’re not just talking about humans that happen to stand out in a crowd. We’re talking about a different species; half-breeds: giants.
So, back to these ‘ancient Near Eastern standards’ for the height of a ‘giant’. If Stark is just referring to humans, he’s right – but it’s not relevant to his discussion of Gen. 6.4. But if he’s referring to giants, it sounds to me like a generalization that’s pulled out of the air.