“And also afterward”: An example of the interpretation of Genesis 6:4 after Nephilim DNA and the racialized Curse of Ham

jdrucker

J.D. Rucker runs a website called Judeo Christian Church, on which he publishes various sermon-style talks on various topics related to the Bible and Christianity. His talk published on March 16, 2015 discusses the meaning of Genesis 6:1-4, the strange episode in which “sons of god” have sex with “daughters of men” and thereby sire Nephilim (the heroes of old or warriors of renown).

Most of the talk involves an interpretation of the “sons of god” as angels. But what interested me was his setting out of three options for interpreting the phrase “and also afterward” in Genesis 6:4. The biblical phrase, considered an interpolation in many historical-critical studies, indicates that the Nephilim were not only in the earth before the flood (when Gen 6:1-4 is predominantly set), but also after the flood.

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days — and also afterward — when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown. (Ge 6:4)

Rucker’s three options for understanding the phrase “and also afterward” are these:

1. The Flood did not kill all the Nephilim. They may have hid on the ark, or escaped somehow.
2. Other angels (“sons of god”) came down after the Flood and had sex with human women.
3. There was giant blood or giant genetics on the ark.

Rucker dismisses the first two options, as there is no explicit mention of this in the Bible. Instead, he suggests that the wife of Ham, the mother of Canaan, may have had tainted blood. She had “Nephilim coding” in her bloodline. Yet Rucker acknowledges that this is also speculation, not found in the Bible. On the face of it, then, he seems to give no distinct reason for favouring option 3 over the other two.

This is an interesting decision, I think, for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, the idea that there is a contamination of human DNA resulting from the Nephilim has been widely propagated in recent decades, in populist books and on websites. This idea can be found in end-times speculations, UFO speculations, and similar literature. Interestingly, Rucker seems to reject many of these theories. He doesn’t favour the idea of Nephilim DNA surviving today and the more conspiratorial versions of the Nephilim DNA theories. Yet he is still persuaded by option three in interpreting the phrase “and also afterward”. Second, the association of Ham and Canaan with tainted blood has a long history in racial interpretation of the “curse of Ham”. Rucker does not himself apply this racial line of interpretation, I emphasize. Yet he adapts the tradition (probably unconsciously) as an explanation, I suspect, of the mention of many giants in Numbers and Deuteronomy as inhabiting the land of Canaan (e.g. Anakim, Emim, Zamzumim, etc).

Rucker does claim to be simply interpreting the Bible. But his favoured interpretation in fact intersects with, and is a product of certain older and newer interpretive streams, including in particular traditions of the racial curse of Ham and Nephilim DNA. Reception history is a complex beast.

Recent Giant Scholarship

Israeli Ministry of Tourism logoWhat are biblical scholars saying about the Giants in the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible? The latest word in biblical scholarship can be found here:

Galbraith, D. (2013). “Manufacturing Judean Myth: The Spy Narrative in Numbers 13–14 as Rewritten Tradition”(Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy)

Among the findings:

(1) the Hebronite traditions (concerning the Judahite leader Caleb, the city of Hebron, and ‘the sons of Anak’ who inhabit Hebron) are not vestiges of ancient legend which have been preserved in the text, but are all secondary to the spy-rebellion tradition derived from dtr Deut. 1;

(2) gigantic stature was first attributed to the sons of Anak and Nephilim in the composition of Num. 13–14, and to the Anakim and Rephaim of Deut. 1–3 in post-deuteronomistic Hexateuchal additions which harmonised the text with the expansionary Num. 13–14;

(3) the extension of the term ‘Rephaim’ to denote entire giant peoples throughout their associated territories also originates with the Hexateuchal harmonisations in Deut. 1–3;

And a detailed interview with the author can be found on Jim West’s blog, Zwinglius Redivivus:

“Scholars You Should Know: Deane Galbraith”

I know, I know – such gratuitous self-publicity…

I Was Once Ignorant of Great Bones

In Flavius Philostratus, Heroikos 8.18, a character known as “the Phoenician” is told about the gigantic bones of various ancient heroes and demi-gods which had been found in various places.

After listening to the list, the Phoenician says that he didn’t formerly believe in such stories about Greek heroes and demi-gods, but does now on the basis of the ‘great bones” which have been discovered. And it gives rise to this great line:

ἐγω δε μεγαλα [ὀστα] μεν ἠγνοουν, ἀνοητως δε ἠπιστουν
“I was ignorant of such great bones, and out of ignorance I disbelieved.”

Adrienne Mayor argues in The First Fossil Hunters that the great bones which were found, and which were attributed to Greek heroes and demi-gods, were typically the remains of mastodons and whales.

However, none of these opinions of so-called modern science should pose any sort of problem for the true believer in giant heroes and demi-gods. As a believer in giant heroes and demi-gods, I don’t have the luxury of dispensing with things just because our culture thinks we should. Culture isn’t the final arbiter of truth. Revelation is. Sure, Adrienne Mayor may believe, based on the presuppositions of her materialist-naturalist worldview, that the giant bones of heroes and demi-gods are just “mastodons” and “whales”. But has anybody seen one of these so-called “mastodons”? No – so it equally depends on FAITH. We have different perspectives PRECISELY because I see life through the lens of faith in giant heroes and demi-gods and she does not. It is for this reason that our views on several issues differ…I simply recognize that, at the end of the day, we approach problems and issues from differing starting points.

GiantKiller Pictures to Produce Trilogy about David


GiantKiller Pictures plans to produce three films based on the five-book Lion of War Series by Cliff Graham, telling the story of the giant killer David and his mighty men (“Gibborim”).

The series follows the life and exploits of the historical King David from exiled warlord to King of a united ancient Israel.
Global Virtual Studio

The Lion of War trilogy will be directed by David L. Cunningham (Beyond Paradise, To End All Wars, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising) and produced by Grant Curtis (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Drag Me To Hell), and is currently being adapted for film by screenwriter John Fusco (Young Guns, Hidalgo, The Forbidden Kingdom). Director David L. Cunningham is the son of Loren and Darlene Cunningham, founders of Youth With A Mission (“YWAM”) – a Christian missionary organisation with over 11,000 staff from over 130 countries, which organises sports camps, dramas, musical events, and other arts events as venues to convert young people to Christianity. Much of the filming for the trilogy is planned to be carried out in Hawai’i, where Cunningham was raised (in Kailua-Kona).

It is hoped that the Gibborim will do for the Big Island what the Hobbits did for New Zealand.

Only the first of the planned five books in the Lion of War series, Day of Warhas been released to date (Zondervan, 4 June 2011). The second book, Covenant of War, is due for release on 13 February 2012.

DAY OF WAR

In ancient Israel, at the crossroads of the great trading routes, a mercenary named Benaiah has come to the camps of the warlord David, believed by many to be the man destined to take the throne. Over the course of ten days, from snowy mountain passes to sword-racked battlefields, Benaiah and the other members of David’s ragtag army must battle overwhelming odds to protect everything they hold dear, all the while encountering the mysterious God of the Hebrews that David so passionately follows.

COVENANT OF WAR

Civil war has raged for seven years across the kingdom of Israel between those loyal to the dead King Saul’s line and the young warlord David. Newly crowned as king, David must rely upon his most elite warriors, known as the Mighty Men, to hold off an invasion of their hated enemy the Philistines while simultaneously trying to heal the wounds of tribal strife. To make matters worse, there is evidence of a traitor in the inner circle of the king.

Lionofwar.com

Lion of War books
Lion of War books

The author of the Lion of War series Cliff Graham is a military chaplain in the United States Army and was involved in the second US invasion of Iraq. He is a speaker at events such as “Man Church”, “Men Sharpening Men”, and YWAM.

Cliff Graham on his masculine readers:

LION OF WAR is shamelessly masculine in its tone and intended audience. That has led to an uphill battle, because men don’t read as much as women. 80% of all book bought in a Christian bookstore are bought by women, for example.

Cliff Graham on the summary execution of Osama bin Laden:

It’s not so much that a death should be celebrated; rather, that justice has been done, and said justice was carried out by a group of warriors who have quietly ignored the sensitivity training popular culture has been demanding of men. As details emerged of the raid, with all of the elements of the most exciting Hollywood movie, we were confronted with the reality that supermen really do live among us…. At its worst, manhood is capable of terrible heartache, oppression, and evil. But at its best, while the world was depending on it, the higher callings of chivalry and valor prevailed, and a group of rough men did dangerous things so that their ladies and children could sleep peacefully at night.

Cliff Graham
Cliff Graham

Cliff Graham on the un-Jewish, red-headed David:

The word “ruddy” here is the Hebrew word admoni, and it hints at reddish hair. However, it’s not specific to red, and it’s likely that he didn’t have pure red hair in the Irish manner we know of as that would have been inconsistent with the ethnic Hebrew skin and hair tone. A better description might be that he had auburn hair; somewhere between brown and red. Regardless of how red his hair actually was, he would have stood out significantly from other Hebrew men, who had very dark hair.

Cliff Graham on Tim Tebow:

… a warrior’s heart is evident in this guy…. I hope Tim reads Day of War one day. Not just because I wrote it, but because I think he would resonate with the theme of leaving it all on the battlefield, wherever and whatever that battlefield might be.

On the Giant Height of Achilles, Ajax, and Orestes: Philostratus

Travis Jacobs, Steve Douglas, and Matthew Raymer at [Ad Hoc] Christianity have posted another round-up of biblical studies and theological blogging. In their podcast, “Episode #18: Blogosphere roundup, May 4, 2011“, they discuss a large number of blog posts over the last few weeks, including one from Remnant of Giants which was titled, “The Height of the Giants who survived the Flood“.

They also (and I speak in the plural, because I’m not sure if it was Travis, Steve, or Matthew) ask a question about the height given for Achilles, Ajax, and Orestes. Their height was depicted in this graphic art by homoerotic artist, He Thong:

In answer to your question, these statures appear in Heroikos, by Philostratus of Lemnos:

In his work Heroikos (“On Heroes”, ca. AD 230), the sophist Philostratus the Lemnian  addresses the general belief that ancient heroes averaged more than 10 cubits – equivalent to more than 4 meters or 12 feet – in height. Philostratus mentions, as an empirical evidence for giant heroes, the findings of  enormous bones in the places where the heroes’ tombs were traditionally assumed to lie.
 
On the basis of the sizes of those bones, Philostratus states that, for instance, Orestes – one of Agamemnon ‘s children – reached 3 meters or 10 feet; Ajax – king of Salamis and a principal character in Homer’s Iliad – was not less that 4.5 meters or 15 feet tall; and Achilles – the greatest warrior of the Trojan war, according to Homer – was a colossus 10 meter or 33 feet in height.
 
– He Thong
 
 So, this particular tradition concerning the height of Achilles, Ajax, and Orestes is quite late, from the end of classical antiquity – although Philostratus is reporting a belief about the height of these heroes which was already in existence in the early third century AD.

Hero in Epic, Hero in Cult: The Rephaim and the Narrative Sublimation of Heroic Dualities in the Hebrew Bible

Brian R. Doak, Gigantologist
Brian R. Doak, Gigantologist

Here’s a very interesting  paper on Giants presented recently at the New England and Eastern Canada Region of the SBL. And I think the authors are precisely right. The paper appears to demonstrate the benefit of the recent shift away from examining the Hebrew Bible in terms of ancient Near Eastern and Ugaritic “parallels” (in the parallelomania sense) which can sometimes precede the biblical texts by a millennium, to an examination of the Hebrew Bible within its actual Greco-Persian context. I must ask Brian if he’ll slip me a copy…

Brian R. Doak and John T. Noble, Harvard University
Hero in Epic, Hero in Cult: The Rephaim and the Narrative Sublimation of Heroic Dualities in the Hebrew Bible
29 April  2011,
Andover-Newton Theological School

In this paper, we explore difficult questions surrounding the dual identity of certain groups of giants in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Nephilim, Rephaim, and some Gibborim) that are identified, on the one hand, as inhabitants of a shadowy netherworld or a distant, mythic past, and, on the other, as mundane (even if giant) mortal inhabitants of the land of Canaan before, during, and after the arrival of the Israelites. We argue that the oddly bifurcated presentation of these groups is more complex and interesting than previous interpreters have recognized. These seemingly disparate portrayals of the Gibborim, Rephaim, Nephilim, and others can, we contend, be read in a holistic manner as heroic, epic phenomenon in ancient Israel that correspond to the treatment of heroic culture elsewhere in the Mediterranean world, specifically in archaic and classical Greece. To this end, we re-examine materials related to the Og and Rephaim traditions (as well as some aspects of the Nephilim and Anaqim question), and argue that the more developed pattern of epic formulation regarding heroes and hero cults in the Greek context also underlies the dual presentation of these groups in the Hebrew Bible. We do not offer a comprehensive answer regarding the identity of the Rephaim in any given period, nor are we choosing sides amongst the many and competing attempts to view the Rephaim as either living or dead. Rather, we contend that the dual identity of the biblical Rephaim as both living, giant warriors and as denizens of the underworld is in fact grounded in a duality of heroic existence that had broad currency in the Mediterranean world and which found expression in ancient Israel as well as in the ancient Aegean context.

Strange Flesh: Knust’s Unprotected Texts

Bob Cornwall (Ponderings on a Faith Journey) provides a review of Jennifer Wright Knust’s Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire (San Francisco: Harper One, 2011). He comments on Genesis 19; Genesis 6.1-4; and the inner-biblical reception of those texts in Jude 1.7:

Unprotected Texts - Knust
Unprotected Texts - Knust

personally I found the discussion in the chapter on “Strange Flesh” illuminating. In this chapter she deals with a number of issues that range from the Sodom Gomorrah story to the suggestion that the giants and “warriors of renown” were the children of unions between angels and human women. The latter isn’t all that new or controversial, but the suggestion that the issue in Sodom centered not on either homosexuality or hospitality, but the Sodomite’s yearning to mate with angels (that is strange flesh) was new to me and intriguing. She also deals with the question of the angels whom Paul is concerned about in 1 Corinthians 11. Paul suggests that women should be veiled “on account of the angels.” Could the issue be that the angels are watching and desiring these women? Remember too that the Corinthians were engaging in angelic speech.