Hat tip to Terry the Censor for finding the Amar Annus article to which I alluded on the Conspirinormal podcast:
Amar Annus, “On the Origin of Watchers: A Comparative Study of the Antediluvian Wisdom in Mesopotamian and Jewish Traditions,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha vol. 19:4 (2010): 277-320.
As I noted in the comments:
This article deals a death blow to any non-supernatural (or non-mythic as some prefer) interpretation in the sense that, if you care about interpreting the Bible in context, no human interpretation of the sons of God can work. It violates every point of context. Annus’ article is the most current study on the Mesopotamian apkallu. It supersedes ALL preceding work on this subject. That means your standard academic commentaries that all pastors are using are hopelessly out of date and mis-informed. Anyone commenting on Gen 6:1-4 hereafter will have to account for this article or else be academically inept.
Read it and be amazed. This is what comparative analysis is supposed to look like. The Sethite view was incoherent before. Now it’s become the position for ostriches.
This is the sort of material that I interact with in The Unseen Realm. I’m trying to take serious, up-to-date scholarship on the weird passages of the Bible and the supernatural worldview of its writers and make it decipherable to non-specialists — while synthesizing it all. Everyone says their new book is different and revelatory. In this case, the claim is real. Those of you who’ve read the first draft way back know I’m not kidding. You’ll never read your Bible the same way again.
When you see all these comparative relationships between Jewish & pagan authors of various ideas, does that lead you to see them as more likely historic with theologic messaging or more as myths with theologic messaging?
I’m not sure how to answer this, as I don’t view these as either-or categories or neat buckets into which things can be dropped. Maybe if the question was reworded (I don’t want to rewrite it for you).
After reading the article I have the following question:
In page 316 of the article the author says that Gen.6:1-4 is being retold by the Biblical author based upon existing writings of the mythology of Watchers. Do you know how it has been proven that the Biblical author writes in response to earlier writings and not vice versa. That is writings that came in existence in reaction on the Biblical account.
KR, J. de Kraker
The Mesopotamian material is much older — ultimately predating the patriarchs (using either the biblical chronology or external chronological reconstructions). Later versions of Mesopotamian flood stories re-purpose older ones, too.
Dr. Heiser, By “material” you are meaning the various texts as they exist now, what we have discovered, and not including the thought of origin or even demanding a root textual source correct? i.e. a multiplicity of texts of various ages could relate a similar or even the same event and yet not demand that they are or are not citing one another, or even connected other than in a common root origin- an ancient pre-Babel ‘Q’ source or oral tradition relating the event. A variety of texts from a diversity of cultures could only be related to the ‘primary’ and yet not require that any are repurposing one another (often doesn’t demand always correct?)Hope this made sense and isn’t such an elementary question to be asked here. Thank you brother so much for your work. God has used you in my life beyond words. (not blowing smoke-truth)
I’m referring to the Sumerian-Mesopotamian texts Annus’ research yielded. Genesis 1-11 has many specific, unmistakable connections to this material.
Fascinating! I agree with your analysis that, barring further evidence, this demonstrates a supernatural understanding, or at least intent, on the part of the writer. My question is, (sorry if this is too technical for a blog post), do you think this scholarship cuts for or against the historicity of the Gen. 6:1-4 account, given that it strengthens the argument for a later date for Genesis (well into the exile, if we agree with Annus’s suggestion that Daniel too was a borrowed character)? Further, if the Gen. account was a snide co-opting of Babylonian myths, including the moniker “sons of god,” intended as a theological, rather than an ontological, statement, as Annus suggests, does that, in turn, argue against the Dut. 32 worldview as you have currently articulated it? If so, what ramifications does that have for your interpretation of Acts 2 et. seq.?
The scholarship is incidental with respect to historicity. One can use the data in a view that accepts it or denies it. (And with respect to however “historical” is defined). That dovetails with your question about the theology.
Here’s what I would really like to know: Does there exist any actual ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE (such as skeletal remains)for ancient Mesopotamian giants? It would seem that in order to substantiate the claim that the Nephilim were in fact real beings (and not merely the imaginative lore of the ANE)that there should exist at least some hard evidence for this.
So for all you scholars out there, links for peer reviewed archaeological evidence of ancient “giant remains” would be much appreciated. 🙂
Unless you’re talking about Egypt, there isn’t abundant skeletal evidence for anyone who lived in the second millennium BC in the ANE (and then much of it is fragmentary). You need either embalming or the right environmental conditions for burial remains to survive. Think about it — over the course of the two millennia covered by OT history there would have been millions, or perhaps tens of millions of people who lived and died in Syria-Palestine. Archaeologists should be finding them everywhere. but they aren’t. The remains of most of the people who ever lived in the OT period are forever lost.
True. Thank you Dr. Heiser