The Book of Giants: Ancient Jewish Literary Creativity beyond the Bible

Slaying Humbaba - by Leonard Greco
Slaying Humbaba – by Leonard Greco

Philip Jenkins has written two useful posts on the Book of Giants, the ancient Jewish work which is found in different versions at Qumran and in Manichaeism.

In his first post, Philip provides a brief introduction to the Book of Giants. In his second post, Philip offers his comments on the significance of the Book of Giants for understanding ancient Judaism, Christianity, Gnosticism, and Manichaeism. In particular, I was interested in Philip’s comments on how the Book of Giants sheds light on the development of ancient Jewish literature. Philip refers to works like the Book of Giants as “fan fiction”:

Religious debate and speculation increasingly took the form of writing new texts and pseudo-scriptures, which took the familiar canonized stories and developed them according to contemporary needs and interests. It is scarcely too much to describe some of these pseudepigraphic and apocryphal works as fan fiction.

He then considers the level of invention involved in composing this “fan fiction”:

Not only are writers developing stories, but they are doing so in amazingly florid form, creating whole new mythologies packed with abundant names and titles. Presumably, some authors are sitting down and inventing these names of demons and giants afresh, while others are taking those and adding their own contributions to the expanding mythos. As we know from modern-day fantasy writers, once that process begins, it rapidly spreads and expands.

This is a good point about the Book of Giants, which bears little resemblance to any biblical passage. In fact, while much of the content shares common material with the Jewish work, the Book of Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36), other parts, such as the names of the giants “Gilgamesh” and “Hunbabis” draw from Babylonian myth. Moreover, the story-line in the Book of Giants, so far as it can be reconstructed from the fragments, introduces some highly original and inventive traditions about the giants. So we can’t accurately categorize Book of Giants as “rewritten Bible”: it neither derives straightforwardly or substantially from biblical traditions nor involves mere “rewriting”, but creatively uses older traditions within a new and original narrative.

Philip’s brief comments complement Eva Mroczek’s view in a recent article published in the Journal of Ancient Judaism, “The Hegemony of the Biblical in the Study of Second Temple Literature”.

Mroczek urges that we seek to appreciate early Jewish literature on its own terms, without assuming that its authors were primarily interested in the texts which later became parts of the Bible. She writes:

The absolute centrality of the biblical is a theological, not a historical axiom: a concern with the biblical in the texts that we study must be shown with evidence, not assumed by default. While the history of the field is a history of people seeking the origins, development, and meaning of these iconic texts, the subjects of our study were not necessarily preoccupied with the same things; they were not marching to the biblical finishing line, but living in a culture whose intellectual, religious, and literary creativity cannot be assimilated into one dominant icon. Recognizing this will help us see Second Temple literature more clearly on its own terms.

Mroczek applies these principles to ancient Jewish David traditions. But they apply well to the Book of Giants, too.

Have a read further:

Matthew Chrulew on Nephilim (Genesis 6:1-4)

Matthew Chrulew, author of The Angælien Conspiracy
Matthew Chrulew, author of The Angælien Apocalypse

Matthew Chrulew’s short novel The Angælien Apocalypse (Twelfth Planet Press, 2010) reads as though it may have been written as a collaboration between Erich von Däniken (Chariots of the Gods?) and Garth Ennis (Preacher). It’s a fun and clever account of what transpires when the world finds out that the ancient-aliens-in-the-Bible conspiracy theorists were right all along. Chrulew is a philosophical ethologist at the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University, where he leads the Posthumanism and Technology research program.

One of the highlights of The Angælien Apocalypse is this summary of Genesis 6:1-4, in the mouth of one of the main characters, Miguel:

“I’m sure they’ve gone through the regular scriptures with you: Ezekiel 1, Matthew 24, Revelation 4. But did they mention Genesis 6? The flood? The Nephilim, Joke [Joachim]. Did they mention them? It’s all there in the Bible: how the sons of God fucked the daughters of men and their kids busted arse all over the joint. Giant freaks, Joke. That’s why there was the flood: once they were around, God in His holiness had to do it, to purge those unholy powerful motherfuckers….

“The angælians almost got what they wanted that time, Joke. All of the Earth was wiped out – except for Noah and his crew. God decided to save a human remnant – and I bet that mightily pissed them off. So this time – this time they mean for him to take out the whole lot. That’s the Cherubim’s real plan, Joke. To cross-breed mongrel Neo-nephilim so when Jesus comes in divine judgement he can’t help but get all wrathful on our corrupt and violent arses…

“They’ve been jealous ever since we were created, ever since Lucifer was first banished to this star system. They want their favourite spot back, right next to the big guy. And so they mingle with the seed of men, manipulate the races, just like it says in Daniel 2.”

The idea that demonic seed has corrupted the human lineage is widely discussed in ancient alien lit, such as in the works of Zecharia Sitchin.

The idea that Lucifer/Satan/’Azaz’el was jealous of God’s creation of humanity, and conversely that the angels resented their resulting loss of status, may be found in ancient interpretations of Genesis 6:1-4, such as the Life of Adam and Eve (12-16) and Questions of Bartholomew 4.53-57.

 

The Slacktivist on the Different versions of David & Goliath

Fred Clark (The Slacktivist)
Fred Clark (The Slacktivist)

The Slacktivist (Fred Clark) continues to examine Goliath.

In his latest post, Fred examines the various versions of the David and Goliath story – not only its various modern film versions, children’s books, Sunday School lessons, etc, but also the different versions which exist within the Bible.

Have a read of his post here.

Also have a look at some earlier posts on this topic on Remnant of Giants.

On the different versions within the Bible:

Illustrating The Benefits of Pentateuchal Literary Criticism: The David and Goliath Story

Scott Derrickson’s Goliath: Respecting the Original

A Beginner’s Guide to Biblical Scholarship – by Jennifer Bird

On modern versions:

A David and Goliath Musical for Children on DVD

The David and Goliath Segment of The History Channel’s The Bible

Q Magazine’s comics reviewer Colin Smith reviews Tom Gauld’s Goliath

Bollywood does David and Goliath

When Goliath was in Ireland: “Dáithí agus Goliath”

David and Goliath as lovers in Caravaggio, Paul Cadmus, Charlie White, Matthew Stone, and David Dalla Venezia

Black Goliath – Bigger than The Brown Hornet

CERN Large Hydron Collider: Science or Portal To Hell Allowing Access To Nephilim? YOU be the judge

The CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest, most powerful, and (at $10 Billion) most expensive particle accelerator.

Or is it?

Mike from around the world suggests otherwise. In an interview with Paul Begley, Mike from around the world claims that CERN has opened up portals to Hell through which Nephilim are now manifesting. Here’s a pic:

CERN-Nephilim

Satan lives in the dark matter. But he comes in and out…. I know the scientist guys don’t really want to go there.
– Paul Begley

You can listen to the interview on YouTube:

“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.