Continued from a previous exchange
Since I don’t think this is a particularly important theological issue, I’m not going to blog about it again. But it seems only fair to respond to Steve’s latest round of comments, and make some clarifications by way of closing out my side of this debate.
Steve A problem with appealing to Second Temple literature is that, during the Intertestamental period, there’s blatant syncretism between Gen 6:1–4 and Greek mythological cosmogony or theomachy.
Agreed. But as I pointed out, if there were blatant syncretism between Genesis 7–8 and Greek mythological tales (which for all I know there is), we would hardly take that as impugning the traditional interpretation of Genesis 7–8. It would simply illustrate that the Jews believed the competing accounts were describing a common event.
The question isn’t whether the embellishments are accurate; as I’ve said, I don’t think they are. The question is simply how the Jews understood their own text. If there’s no evidence of alternative readings until Christian theologians became motivated by an invalid argument from Matthew 22:30, then that lends some weight to the Enochian view—even though 1 Enoch itself is just legendary embellishment. (Of course, I don’t think it lends decisive weight—I have elsewhere repudiated, for example, the traditional Jewish interpretation of the second commandment! I’m just marshaling all the evidence available.)
Steve There’s nothing in the actual wording of 2 Pet 2 or Jude which either states or implies an allusion to Gen 6:1–4.
This is question-begging. As I’ve said, we need to ask how the original readers would have understood these passages. Given how widely-known the book of Enoch was, it seems these passages obviously are allusions to Genesis 6:1–4. When we try to put ourselves in the shoes of a first century Jew, given what we know, that certainly looks like how he’d read it. Indeed, Jude presupposes his audience’s familiarity with it: Enoch is clearly on his mind in vv. 14–15, so it’s hardly a stretch to think vv. 5–7 are dealing with similar material.
There’s also the problem of what Jude and Peter are talking about if it’s not Genesis 6. It could be something else—but what? Why discount the plausible explanation we have, when there’s nothing to replace it with?
Of course, none of this is decisive. But the overall weight of evidence seems to push quite firmly in the direction of the traditional interpretation.
Steve They’re “godlike” on Heiser’s interpretation, but of course, that’s not something I grant.
But you were making an internal critique. You were saying that the Enochian view is internally inconsistent. And on the Enochian view the sons of God are godlike. Satan in Job, for instance, evinces considerable power over the elements. The fact that you don’t grant the Enochian view is irrelevant if you’re making an internal critique.
Steve To begin with, the text doesn’t say or imply that the “sons of god[s]) took possession of human males.
Sure. And I don’t think they did. I was just pointing out that you were failing to anticipate some obvious ways in which the sons of God could gain humanity while retaining their divinity.
Steve Assuming, however, that you’re the child of a demoniac, that doesn’t make you a genetically-enhanced human being.
Even though I agree, you’re continuing to assume things we can’t possibly know. Argumentum ad conjectura. So we’re back to the head-of-a-pin situation. The fact is we just have no idea what the son of a demoniac would be like.
For the record, I don’t think the sons of God took human form by possession. But more particularly, I don’t think they shared bodies which already had human spirits. When I suggested they could have taken pre-existent human bodies, I was actually thinking of recently deceased corpses. Needless to say, that’s utterly conjectural as well; I don’t believe it; in fact, I got the idea from the TV show Supernatural. The point is not that I think this did happen; but merely that for all we know it is a possible way in which a spiritual being could take on human form without losing its innate abilities. The point was not to suggest a mechanism of what actually happened, but merely to illustrate by way of counterexample that your previous argument substantially overreaches in its assumptions about what is possible for divine beings.
Steve Mind and body are two distinct domains. At most, there’d be some psychological rather than physical transference. The child of a demoniac might be mentally ill, or have paranormal abilities (e.g. ESP, psychokinesis).
Again, I tend to agree. I think the sons of God probably created bodies for themselves in whatever way such beings usually create bodies (cf the angels at Sodom). But for all we know they had genetic labs where they tinkered with DNA to make things work. My point was not to commit myself to a conjectural notion of how they managed to achieve the feat of reproduction with humans, but merely to illustrate that your argument makes some obviously dubious assumptions.