J.G. Herder’s Euthyphron on the wicked abuse of Genesis 6:1-4

Johann Gottfried Herder
Johann Gottfried Herder

The extract below derives from the dialogue between Alciphron and Euthyphron in Johann Gottfried Herder’s The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry (1782-83).

In the extract, the two dialogue partners discuss the brief and allusive biblical reference to antediluvian giants in Genesis 6:1-4. Alciphron, who here as elsewhere speaks instinctively and reflects the sentiment of the general public, wishes that much more had been said about these giants. The more level-headed and rational Euthyphron – presumably aware of Enochic and other literature – argues that too much nonsense had already been written about them.

Alciphron: Would that we knew something more of these fables of giants.

Euthyphron: We ought to wish for no such thing, and even the few traces that we have of them have been wickedly abused. What fictions have not been invented out of what is said of the sons of God, who went in to the daughters of men? and yet the expression “sons of God,” i.e. nobles, heroes, men of superior power, beauty, and strength, is common and current in all heroick songs.

Are you on the side of Aliphron? Or are you on the side of Euthyphron?


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