In November 2017, Amelia Wysocki founded the New York-based Nephilim Magazine, a Fashion/Beauty/Art/Geek-culture magazine.

Nephilim Magazine is primarily distributed as an online magazine, published on MagCloud – but for the luddites there is also a print version.

The liminal figures of the Nephilim, situated in that nebulous space between gods and humans, have proved attractive in the twenty-first century to a host of producers of popular fiction, graphic novels, film and television – not to mention conspiracy theorists.. The concept of the Nephilim, therefore, is a good fit with the ambit of this new magazine.

I asked the editors of Nephilim Magazine via Twitter why they chose the name, and they provided another good reason for it. “According to legend,” replied the editors, “the Nephilim are the beings that taught mankind art, science, and magic.” That’s quite appropriate for a magazine featuring contemporary art and photography! For example, the Book of Watchers (ca. 300 BCE) recounts how each of the fallen angels known as Watchers taught their human wives “sorcery, incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees” (1 Enoch 7.10). Of course, it’s the Watchers, rather than Nephilim who teach these skills in the earliest versions of the legend. Yet in modern pop-cultural adaptations of the legend, the fallen Watchers tend to get conflated with the “Nephilim”.

In addition, the editors interpret the Nephilim as a common character in many cultures throughout the world, not confining themselves to the Jewish context in which the term “Nephilim” originates. “The Nephilim have been mentioned by many cultures all over the world by description,” claim the editors of Nephilim Magazine. “If you piece the stories together, the Nephilim and the Titans were the same species.”

Amelia Wysocki, founding editor of Nephilim Magazine
Amelia Wysocki, founding editor of Nephilim Magazine

This reply has an element of truth to it. Scholars have often compared the heroic Nephilim, and their later development (in Enoch tradition) into semi-divine figures, with the heroes of Greek legend. The paradigmatic Greek hero is Herakles (Hercules), son of the god Zeus and mortal woman Alceme. The Nephilim, however, are not really akin to the Greek “Titans”, who are wholly divine, the generation of gods that preceded the reign of Zeus. Indeed, the late Hebrew Bible scholar Lothar Perlitt was right to distinguish stories of Titans and the Titanomachy from biblical giants and Nephilim, commenting that the former represent ‘a mythological drama that is foreign to the Old Testament’. Saying that, these ancient categories often became conflated. The Enochic fallen angel myth later blends elements from the Titan myth, in particular the binding of the fallen angels (1 En 10.4; Jub 5.6; Sib Or 3.110–58). And the Septuagint sometimes translates “Rephaim” (in Valley of Rephaim) as Τῑτᾶνες (2 Sam. 5:18, 22).

I also asked whether the editors of Nephilim Magazine thought that the Nephilim once existed. They didn’t directly affirm that they existed, but left the possibility open with their reply. “Who knows?” they asked. “Thousands of years of our true history has been lost during numerous religious purges.” Their reply is reminiscent of wider trends in pop-cultural lore concerning the Nephilim, in which they become representatives of some alleged long-lost knowledge and repressed wisdom.

And so the ancient legend of the Nephilim continues to develop and evolve within the pages of Nephilim Magazine.

[Updated 21 July 2018, following replies from Nephilim Magazine editors.]