Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Bible Versions

 

Bible Translation Dates/Translation Basics

 

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, October 28, 2020

 

Translations basics 

There are basically two ways to translate from one language into another: 

1.     Word-for-word (Sometimes called a literal translation or formal equivalence)

2.     Thought-for-thought (sometimes called dynamic equivalence) 

Word-for-word is accurate to the word but can sometimes fail to get the point across if it is figurative language.  For example, if I say in English “let’s hit the sack”, this means “to go to bed” but translating that into Spanish word-for-word would be to “literally” hit a sack, and not go to bed. So the thought wouldn’t get across.  

Therefore, sometimes you need to use a thought-for-thought translation on particular verses.  However, doing a thought-for-thought can lead to adding the translators own ideas to the translation and avoid what the text actually says if the translator goes too far. So, one shouldn’t go completely thought-for-thought either. There needs to be a balance.  

The NASB, KJV, ESV, and NKJV and so on are known as word-for-word translations though not entirely word-for-word.  

The older NIV is a mixture of word-for-word in some cases and thought-for-thought in other cases. Again, a word of caution needs to be stated when deviating too far into the thought-for-thought translations since one may end up with the translator’s interpretation of the verse rather than the verse itself.   

In light of this, it is be better to err on the side of literal or formal equivalence as opposed to dynamic equivalence.  This is why scholarly respect is given to translations that are closer to word-for-word such as the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, AMP, and so on). They use word-for-word but also some dynamic equivalence when necessary, some more than others. 

Do we have the originals texts to translate from? 

The original writings by the original authors are the inspired text.  But as such, not one has survived to this date that we know of. Copies were encouraged (Deuteronomy 17:18). This precedent was followed in the New Testament so that the reading of various epistles could be accomplished by different churches (e.g., Colossians 4:16, 2 Corinthians 3:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:27). This shows the value in the inherent text, not the original penned version. 

The logical question that follows is “how do we know what the original text said?” Within Christianity, there are two primary arguments and both stem from Psalms 12:6-7 and other passages (e.g., Matthew 5:18 and Matthew 24:35) which states that the Word of God would be preserved and will not pass away. 

This brings us to the question of “preservation,” which is distinct from inerrancy (which applied to the original autographs). Knowing that God revealed that He would preserve His Word (Psalm 12:6–7), there are two views on how this preservation has taken place: 

1. One preserved inerrant copy of a copy of a copy (etc.) has been passed down (some claim one per language).

2. Preservation has occurred by the very fact that numerous copies exist which allow us to observe the original via textual analysis. 

Evaluating the first view, and strictly looking at the Old Testament, the Masoretic text (MT) is easily the best collection of Hebrew manuscripts (where our earliest extant copy is about AD 900); however, we need to keep in mind that it, too, is a copy of a copy of a copy, etc. And copyists were never given the privilege of prophetic inerrancy, unlike the prophets or apostles whose God-given authority allowed for an inspired text. Although the MT may be the best, we need to be careful about in-depth studies of words and phrases without consulting other ancient texts. 

Consider that Jesus quoted from the Old Testament about 64 times in the Gospels. More than half of His quotes agree with the precision of wording in both the LXX (Septuagint – a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures done about 200-250 years before Christ but out earliest copies are about AD 400) and the MT. In 12 instances, Jesus’ quotes differ from both the LXX and the MT. In 7 instances, His quotations side with the LXX over the MT. And in another 12 instances, Jesus’ phraseology agrees with the MT over the LXX. 

So if we make a case that other ancient texts such as the LXX, Samaritan Pentateuch (an ancient Hebrew copy of the first five books of the Bible done in Samaria) should never be used instead of the MT, then Jesus would be in error as He clearly didn’t draw explicitly from what we know today as the MT (which existed far after Jesus earthly life anyway).[1] 

Throughout the history of the church, the second view has been dominant. Jerome, who translated the Latin Vulgate around A.D. 400 relied on multiple Greek texts when he translated the New Testament and went to Bethlehem to gain access to multiple Hebrew texts of the Old Testament. 

With English translations, for example, from Tyndale forward, each translator made use of textually criticized texts (looking at several texts to make sure you are using accurate Greek text for the New Testament) and often consulted variant texts when doing translations. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The idea that one inerrant copy lineage has been passed along is a relatively new idea that, sadly, doesn’t take into account the past.[2] 

Early English translators relied heavily on the various Textus Receptus (TR) editions, published copies of the Greek New Testament, as well as a few other sources, whether English, Latin, or other. Dutch Catholic Erasmus in 1516 did textual criticism of a handful of variant copies (three primary copies and three others) of the Greek New Testament to arrive at this standard text.[3] He even used quotations by church fathers for comparison and back-translated excerpts of Revelation from the Latin Vulgate that did not appear in any versions of his Greek copies. 

Erasmus issued three editions of his Greek New Testament, the latter editions correcting earlier errors as he got a hold of more Greek texts. His first edition, some say, was rushed for competition with another family of texts that was used for the Roman Catholic Polyglot Bible, and it became the dominant text used throughout Europe.[4] 

Others, such Stephanus, Beza, and the Elzevir brothers, further edited Erasmus’s TR for subsequent printings when they gained access to other Greek texts. So early English translations such as Tyndale’s, the Geneva Bible, Luther’s Bible, and other New Testaments generally came from this text family because this was what was available. But even then, popular versions such as the King James New Testament differs from the TR nearly 170 times and over 60 times agreed with the Latin Vulgate over any Greek text, including the TR.[5] 

Since the time of Erasmus, nearly 5,300 Greek texts and fragments have been documented.[6] So why remain confined to Erasmus’s small library that didn’t even have a complete version of Revelation in Greek? There have been many attempts to utilize these other texts instead of ignore them. Among the most popular was Westcott and Hort’s text. But as far as we know, no modern translation uses the Westcott and Hort text except the poorly translated New World Translation.[7] 

There has been further study and textual criticism to arrive at standard texts. Today, the latest editions are used when translating the Bible, whether Old Testament or New Testament. 

But just for the reader’s sake, there are very few discrepancies (mostly spellings and slightly varied words from generation to generation) between something like the TR and modern texts – nothing that would any major theology would hinge on. It shows the competence of copyists throughout the ages. With the Old Testament, the Lord has preserved other texts besides the MT so that we’re able to compare various texts – consider the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient texts (Peshitta, Samaritan Pentateuch, etc.). The point is that God has preserved His Word, just as He said He would. 

Some popular English translations and a few the different editions of them: 

Wycliffe or WYC 1382-1395 translation from the Latin Vulgate

Tyndale or TYN 1525 (William Tyndale’s Version) (NT only)

TYN or TRC 1535 (NT and OT) (Tyndale’s version with Myles Coverdale to finish it as Tyndale was martyred)

Great Bible 1540 revised and updated Tyndale Bible by Myles Coverdale sometimes known as the Cromwell Bible since he directed the publication; Authorized by King Henry VII

Bishop’s Bible 1568 authorized by the Church of England

Bishop’s Bible 1572 update

Geneva or GSB 1560 (Geneva Study Bible) included apocrypha

Geneva or GSB 1599 (Very archaic spellings, no apocrypha)

GSB 2006 (Updated version with modern spellings)

KJV 1611 (King James Version), includes Apocrypha, authorized by King James

KJV 1613 revision of the 1611

KJV 1629 another revision

KJV 1638 another revision

KJV 1762 Cambridge (Modernized for the time using J instead of I, etc.)

KJV 1779 Oxford (Modernized for the time, this is one of the standard KJVs common today)

WEB 1833 (Noah Webster’s Version from the famous American dictionary creator)

YLT 1862 (Young’s Literal Translation) extreme literal in translation form; that is, formal equivalence, thus making it difficult to understand in places

KJV 1873 (Oxford Parallel, also common today)

KJV 21st Century 1994 (Basically an easier to read KJV – same grammar, sentence structure, but changing some words)

ERV (English Revised Version) Updated KJV in 1881; Authorized, but the first time King James’ name was not used

ASV 1901 (American Standard Version) American rendition of the ERV, which was an update of the KJV; the RSV 1946 and 1971 as well as the NASB 1971 and 1995 are newer styles of this older one

RSV 1946 (Revised Standard Version) update of the ASV

RSV 1971 update

NRSV 1989-90 (New Revised Standard Version) Update of the RSV

NASB 1971 (New American Standard Bible) New translation based on the ASV 1901

NASB 1995 (Revision of the 1971)

NKJV 1979 (New King James Version) (NT only)

NKJV 1982 (NT and OT)

NKJV 1984 (Revision of the 1982)

AMP 1958 (Amplified Version) (NT only)

AMP 1964 (NT and OT)

AMP 1987 updated

NIV 1978 (New International Version) (NT only)

NIV 1984 (Revision of the 1978 NT and has OT)

NLT 1996 Much dynamic equivalence which leads to getting some of the translator’s thoughts.  Sometimes gender neutral and thus not as accurate to the original language – this is not to be confused with the Living Bible, which is a paraphrase 

ESV 2001 (English Standard Version)

HCSB 2003 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) Southern Baptist translation

CSB 2017 (Update of the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

NET 2005 (New English Translation) 

Some versions to really watch out for: 

NWT  (New World Translation) (Jehovah’s Witnesses have many changes to adhere to their theology, e.g., Jesus is demoted to being a “created god”, that is not really “a god” at all and but is seen as an the angel Michael) 

KJV 1833 (“Inspired Version” by Mormons that change over 3,410 verses)

JST 1978 (Joseph Smith Translation) (Latest title of the KJV 1833)

NAB 1970 (New American Bible) Catholic American rendition – it has the added apocrypha

NAB 1995 (New American Bible) Catholic American rendition updated – it has the added apocrypha and changed the Ten Commandments to allow for graven images of God – in fact, with any modern Romanist based Bible you need to look out for things like this.

TNIV (2002 NT, 2005) Gender neutral rejects far too much Greek and Hebrew wording so we would stay away from using it as it does change meanings in some instances

NIV (2011) Gender neutral and hence not accurate to the original texts – now replaces older NIV translations

Living Bible 1962 NT – paraphrase version of the NT, not based on original languages

Living Bible 1971 NT and OT– paraphrase version of the Bible, not based on original languages

Message Bible 1993 NT 2002 NT and OT – paraphrase version of the Bible, not based on original languages

CEB 2009-2011 – liberal translation that is often inaccurate to the Greek and Hebrew. Also includes the Apocrypha



[1] G. Miller, “Septuagint,” A Christian Thinktank, http://www.christian-thinktank.com/alxx.html, January 30, 1995.

[2] For a more detailed history of the Bible in English please see Donald Brake, A Visual History of the English Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2008).

[3] “Erasmus 1516,” Bibliography of Textual Criticism, http://www.bible-researcher.com/bib-e.html, accessed December 15, 2008.

[5] Douglas Kutilek, “Westcott and Hort vs. Textus Receptus: Which is Superior?” May 24, 1996, reprinted at http://www.bible-researcher.com/kutilek1.html, accessed December 15, 2008.

[6] J. McDowell, A Ready Defense (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993), p. 43.

[7] New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Revised) (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania and the International Bible Students Association, 1984), p. 5; http://www.bible-researcher.com/metzger.jw.html

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Why Do Some Believe The Fallen Angels View

 

Why Do Some People Think “Sons of God” Mean Fallen Angels?

 B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, October 20, 2020

When one looks at the phrase “sons of God” in Genesis 6, it is the Hebrew words bene ha ‘elohim. Bene means “sons” and Elohim is one of the names of God that He has revealed to us in the Old Testament Scriptures.  In fact, Elohim is used in Genesis 1:1. But this phrase translates as “sons of God”.

From here, people logically decided to look in the Old Testament to see if this Hebrew phrase is used elsewhere. And it is in three places in the book of Job: Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7. There has been some debate among commentators over the meaning of “sons of God” in Job 1 and 2 – whether they are angels or godly men. But if one turns to Job 38:7, it says: 

When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? 

Clearly, “sons of God” in this instance is not in reference to godly people since this is speaking in the context of creation week and specifically during the phase where God laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4-7). Let’s face it, when God created the foundations of the earth (be it Day 1 [creation of earth] or Day 3 [solid foundation of land] of Creation Week), man did not exist to shout for joy![1] 

Commentators are almost unanimous that “sons of God” is a metaphorical use of angels or otherwise heavenly beings in this context. And this is consistent as angels are often spoken of as luminaries (e.g., Judges 5:20; Daniel 8:10; Jude 13; Revelation 1:20). 

Some copies of the ancient Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek about 200-250 B.C. called the Alexandrine Septuagint (or LXX) translated Genesis 6:2 (6:3 in the LXX) to say[2]

that the angels of God having seen the daughters of men that they were beautiful, took to themselves wives of all whom they chose. 

From this point forward, many Jews and early Christians reading the LXX followed suit with the “sons of God” being fallen angels in this context.[3] In Scripture when angels materialized such as those at Sodom, they appeared as men. These are the primary reasons why people commonly say that the “sons of God” are fallen angels in Genesis 6. 

So why doesn’t everyone buy into the fallen angels arguments for the “sons of God being angels  then?

Using poetry as the absolute to interpret literal history? 

First, there is the issue of interpreting literal history in light of a poetic book. Dr. Hugh Ross and Dr. Fuz Rana (as well as their ministry Reasons to Believe) are well-known for their tact at taking poetic/metaphorical passages in the Bible as the baseline to reinterpret historical accounts.[4] Mr. Tim Chaffey and Dr. Jason Lisle refute this notion in the book Old Earth Creationism on Trial, when they say:

“It has become popular lately for old-earthers to try and use poetic sections of the Bible to override the plain teachings of historical sections. Since a straightforward reading of Genesis does not support their view, some old-earth creationists hope to reinforce their position by selectively quoting poetic passages like Psalms or Proverbs. Hugh Ross states:

. . . not all the answers are in Genesis. And in particular, there’s three of them: Proverbs 8, Psalm 104, and Job 38 and 39 that actually take you through each of the six creation days of Genesis 1. And when you do that (integrate those four in particular) you discover that it’s not possible to take that word “yom” in any context other than a long period of time. (“Heart and Soul” BBC radio broadcast. (Hugh Ross is interviewed by Eugenie Scott.) Accessed March 30, 2007. 19:46–20:12. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/heart_and_soul.shtml>. Accessed 3/30/2007.)

But, when read in context, there is nothing in these poetic sections of Scripture that would contradict a straightforward reading of Genesis: that God did indeed create in six literal days. After all, the same God that inspired Genesis also inspired these sections of the Bible. But since poetic books, like the Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, contain figures of speech, metaphors, and other non-literal imagery, many people feel a greater liberty to interpret these passages as they wish, rather than according to the standard rules of biblical interpretation. Some old-earth creationists have even mislabeled poetic passages as “accounts of creation,” presumably in an attempt to revise the biblical history by pulling certain poetic sections out of context.

In one of his more recent books, Hugh Ross lists 21 “major creation accounts in the Bible.” (Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004), p. 66.) Many of the passages are from poetic sections of the Bible; four of the listed passages are from the Psalms, two are from Job. (For that matter, many of the narrative passages Ross cites do not pertain to the initial creation at all, such as Genesis 6–9; these verses describe the Flood.) Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are also included. Sections of the Bible such as the Psalms are not “accounts” at all, but rather poetic songs of praise to God. They are just as inspired and true as the rest of God’s Word; however, they require knowledge of the historic narrative sections of the Bible in order to fully understand and properly interpret the poetic language.

One of the most important rules of hermeneutics is that the unclear should be interpreted in light of the clear; therefore, poetic sections using symbolism and literary imagery should be interpreted in light of the more straightforward historical narratives. This is not to say that poetic sections never shed light on narratives; they can. But they should never be used to override the clear teaching of historical narratives.”

Essentially, there exists a problem of taking interpretive poetic and metaphorical passages as the absolute literal standard and reinterpreting historical narratives. This problem persists in the instance of taking Job 38, which has a clearly allegorical/metaphorical nature and reinterpreting Genesis 6, a historical narrative.  Such a fallacious methodology should be questioned. We should be able to get our understanding of Job 38 due to historical accounts and not vice versa. Let’s view the context of Job 38: 

4 "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.

5  Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?

6  To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone,

7  When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8  "Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb;

9  When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band;

10  When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors;

11  When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!’ 

It should be notable that there is immense imagery here as God is speaking to Job. This is not a historical narrative. Job 38:7 appears to be in reference to some form of heavenly host, singing during creation week being called “morning stars” or as “sons of God” shouting for joy. That is if this interpretation is correct, which seems proper. Even so, by the power of God even stones can cry out (Luke 19:40), bones can speak (Ezekiel 37:1-11), donkeys can talk (Numbers 22:21-33), and so on! For all we know, the stars really did sing! This is something to ponder, although I do think contextually this is angelic host in this instance.      

But the point at hand is, should Job 38 be interpreted in light of Genesis or Genesis in light of Job 38? In other words, should historic narrative supersede poetic, metaphorical, imagery or vice versa? Do you realize that Satan tried using this methodology when tempting Christ: using poetic passages to supersede historical narrative accounts?  Christ pointed out this error. 

Consider the historical situation between Satan and Christ in Matthew 4. Christ was fasting and hungry. When Satan tried tempting Him, Jesus appealed to an historical book of the Bible (Deuteronomy 8:3) that was in the context of hunger regarding the Israelites and the manna God provided for them. As a response, Satan quoted from a Psalm (91:11-12) to refute Christ’s use of Deuteronomy. Christ then used a passage that teaches the correct theology about His current situation that is built on another historical account (again referring to history in Deuteronomy 6:16). 

Essentially, Satan tried to counter Christ by trying to reinterpret the situation by taking a Psalm that was metaphorical in nature to supersede the straightforward interpretation that Christ used which was not of metaphorical nature but historical narrative. Of course, Christ saw through this and re-quoted from Deuteronomy again (historical narrative passage). 

We need to have extra care when someone uses a song/allegory/metaphor/ etc. to reinterpret historical narratives, because that is exactly what Satan did to confuse the situation. Do Psalms and Job have their place? Absolutely; but it should not be as a means of taking metaphors as the absolute over literal historical narratives. Rather, it would be better to have looked to other historical narratives in Scripture first so that you can better reason from the clear to the unclear passages.      

But should this interpretation based on Job 38:7 be used to override historical narratives as to their meaning in Genesis 6 with the “sons of God”? Therein lies the problem. It would be better to interpret historical narratives with common uses in other historical narratives (like what Jesus did) and not forget about the New Testament where God gives His sufficient and complete Word. 

Should “sons of God” in Job 38 which seems to be talking of holy, unfallen, angels, be used to interpret Genesis 6:2 as fallen angels? 

If this is talking of angelic or heavenly beings, then it is obviously prior to sin which would have occurred after Day 6 of creation because God declared all things “very good” at the end of creation week (Genesis 1:31)—and sin is not very good! Deuteronomy 32:4 confirms that God’s  creation during Creation Week was indeed perfect since every work of God is perfect. 

So “sons of God” in Job 38:7 is used of holy angels or holy heavenly host at best in this context. But anytime we interpret something in a psalm or metaphor, we need to be cautious because this is after all, how WE, as fallible, sinful, human beings perceive it.  

Furthermore, there is a big theological problem here if we go ahead and grant that “sons of God” are angels in this instance. Job 38:7 is referring to godly angels, so there is a big jump to say that ungodly angels are also called “sons of God”. Is Satan, for instance, rightly called the “son of God”? May it never be! Such a godly title should not be the inheritance of the ungodly who have forfeited their right to the title. 

Do we call ungodly people godly titles like “sons of God” or “children of God”? If such a title is transferable upon high treason from God (as fallen angels and Satan have done), then every man [who has sinned and not repented] should also retain that godly title; for we were in Adam (Hebrews 7:9-10) when He sinned and he was originally called the “son of God” upon his creation (Luke 3:38). 

Biblically, are unbelievers counted among the “sons of God”? Not according to the New Testament (e.g., 1 John 3:8-10)! Neither were the scribes and Pharisees in John 8:44 where their title had become sons of their “father the devil”. There is a sharp contrast between ungodly people who are termed “sons of this world/age”, “sons of disobedience”, or “sons of the wicked one” vs. those godly people who are “sons of light”, “sons of the kingdom”, “sons of the resurrection”, and of course, “sons of God” (e.g., Matthew 13:38, Luke 16:8[5], Luke 20:34-36, John 12:36, Ephesians 5:6, Colossians 3:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:5). There is also a sharp contrast between those born of God and sinners who are dubbed the “children of the devil” (1 John 3:8-10). 

Furthermore, if one is going to interpret Genesis with Job’s poetry, they should say that godly angels were marrying women. Of course, such a thing is impossible among the godly and obedient angels according to Jesus (Matthew 22:30). 

Poor translation of LXX in Genesis 

Another problem presents itself. It is a common misconception that the Alexandrine LXX translated “sons of God” as angels. This is a common argument presented by fallen angel adherents. 

However, if you look closely, the LXX translates “sons” [Hebrew word ben] as “angels”—not “sons of God” as angels. This is a serious mistake by modern commentators. Consider if the translator kept this hermeneutic throughout the rest of Genesis. Noah would have begot three angels (e.g., sons) in Genesis 6:10.  Adam would have begotten angels (Genesis 5:4). 

The LXX not only made this error, but the surrounding context failed to accurately translate the ages of the patriarchs in Genesis 5 immediately prior to Genesis 6:1-4. If you tally these inflated ages up in the LXX, then Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, would have been living over a decade after the Flood without being on the Ark! 

In some cases, the LXX translator(s) for Genesis had also bought into the common Greek philosophies of the day. Consider, the translation of raqiya in Genesis 1:6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 17, and 20. The LXX translates it as στερεωμα or stereoma in Greek. And from this, we get the word “firmament” in some English translations. This was derived from the Latin Vulgate which used firmamentum which itself is a translation of the LXX’s stereoma. Essentially, stereoma, firmamentum, or firmament means something solid or firm but raqiya is something more akin to being stretched or an expanse. The NASB translates it as expanse (see below): 

Genesis 1:6 Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."

Genesis 1:7  God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.

Genesis 1:8  God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

Genesis 1:14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;

Genesis 1:15  and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so.

Genesis 1:17  God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 

Many other translations, going back to Hebrew in the Old Testament, follow suit and translate raqiya as expanse (e.g., ESV, NET, YLT, etc.) So why did the LXX translators use stereoma meaning something solid? 

Here is why. The common Greek philosophy of the day was that the heavens were basically solid and the stars were largely stationary in it. The sky was viewed by the Greeks and those they influenced as a predominantly solid/firm fixture above the earth. Certain objects could move through this solid sky but they did it slowly, which is why it was seen as a solid dome—or more properly a series of hard spheres.[6] The Jewish translators bought into the Greek philosophies of the day and used that to reinterpret Genesis, or more properly to “retranslate” it to another meaning instead of expanse. 

Why is this important? Keep in mind other views that the Greeks held to. They believed in “demi-gods” which were the children of their pagan gods who came down from heavenly places and married or had offspring by mortal women. Sound familiar? Having a Jewish translator use “angels” instead of demi-gods, shows how the Jews of the day were influenced by the their Greek conquerors. 

Historically this is nothing new. Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelite nation was known to walk away from God’s plain Word and be influenced by the pagans around them. How often did they engage in Baal worship, sacrifice to Molech, set up high places to foreign and pagan “gods” After Moses presented the Law and the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they began deviating from God and serving false gods, idols, and following false beliefs. Even Solomon’s wisdom couldn’t keep him from sacrificing to pagan gods as he was led astray (1 Kings 11:7-8, Nehemiah 13:26). 

When they crucified Christ, the Jews in unison rejected God as their king and said they had no king but Caesar—placing a pagan Emperor Tiberius above the Creator! Even the modern Jewish calendar today is influenced by Babylonian paganism from the days of Captivity (e.g. Tammuz, a  Mesopotamian god, for instance, is one month on the Jewish Calendar). Much of the Old Testament is calling Israelites and their leaders out for such deviant sin to return to God and His Word. 

We need to realize that the Jewish translator of the LXX was influenced by the Greek religion of the day. But like any translation, the LXX needs to be judged by original language texts. Clearly, the LXX cannot be trusted as the absolute standard on this issue of translation of “sons” as “angels” of God in Genesis 6 but should itself be subjected to Hebrew texts.  

The use of “sons of God” by the Jews in their literature elsewhere shows this title being used of people—not exclusively of angels. The apocryphal literature, though not Scripture and written in Greek near in time to the LXX, does provide a valuable understanding of events from ~400 B.C. to the birth of Christ. This Jewish literature mentions the “sons of God” in Wisdom 18:13 as humans. So a Jewish understanding of “sons of God” is by no means limited to Job 38’s interpretive meaning of angels and the LXX’s use of angels for “sons” in Genesis 6. 



[1] The foundations of the earth are either discussing the day the earth was created (Day 1) or potentially the day God made dry land. In either case, man was not around yet.

[2] The Vaticanus text of the LXX that Brenton primarily used still translated this phrase as “sons of God”.

[3] Greek was the common trade language in that time due to Alexander the Great, the Greek Macedonian, who conquered most of these lands years before. Josephus, for example a Jewish historian near the time of Christ also appealed to this viewpoint as he used the LXX quite often. 

[4] If you would like to see this from their own words please watch their presentations on reinterpreting Genesis at the Fullerton debate, entitled: A Question of Age: Conference on Creation, the Bible and Science. http://www.answersingenesis.org/PublicStore/product/A-Question-of-Age-Conference-on-Creation-the-Bible-and-Science,5633,229.aspx

[5] Luke 16:8  "So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. (NAS)

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Nephilim Major Views

 

What are the major views and why?

 B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, October 14, 2014

There is a popular unbiblical view that the nephilim are space aliens [as a result of trying to mix Christianity with secular religions]. Of course, most Christians rightly reject this syncretistic view for multiple reasons, but that is not for this discussion.[1]

The actual identity of the nephilim ultimately hinges on the identity of the “sons of God”: for they are the fathers of the nephilim. The debate stems over the meaning of the “sons of God” and their ultimate origin. There are two camps on this foundational point within this debate. They are: 

1.       The “sons of God” are fallen angels.

2.       The “sons of God” are human (godly men).

From these two differences, we arrive at several different viewpoints. You can probably already imagine some of the outworking views of who the nephilim were just by understanding these two premises!  From an “aerial view” of this debate the various positions emerge as: 

Fallen Angels Views 

1. Fallen angels view: Fallen angels married and bred with women (daughters of men) whether by force or by choice and the resultant offspring were giant mixed race beings (half angelic and half human) who were mighty, wicked, and made a name for themselves (“men of renown”).

2. [Fallen] Angelic possession view: Fallen angels inhabited men (e.g., like demonic possession) and these men married women (daughters of men) and the children were nephilim [giants or possibly just human who were mighty, wicked, and made a name for themselves (“men of renown”)].

Fallen Men Views 

1. Generic fallen men: Godly men married ungodly women (daughters of men) and had  ungodly, fallen children (nephilim) who were mighty, wicked, and made a name for themselves (“men of renown”).

                2. Sethite

a. Generic Sethite: Godly men (“sons of God”) were specifically of the Sethite lineage (such as Adam who was the son of God per Luke 3:38 through Seth (who called upon the name of the Lord per Genesis 4:26) to Noah down the Genesis 5 lineage) and they married ungodly women (daughters of men) and had ungodly, fallen children (nephilim) who were mighty, wicked, and made a name for themselves (men of renown).

b. Royalty[2]: “Sons of God” were a royal line (e.g., kings, rulers, or heads of leading family groups) both pre-Flood and post-Flood that included Sethite “kingly” line in the pre-Flood world (Adam to Noah) and they married women who were ungodly and had children by them (nephilim) who were mighty, wicked, and made a name for themselves (“men of renown”).

3. Cainite (This rare view is not popular at all—I’ve never met anyone who has actually held it): The “sons of God” were supposedly of Cain’s lineage prior to the Flood and they were the ones who married ungodly women and had fallen children by them who were mighty, wicked, and made a name for themselves (“men of renown”).

As you can see, there are a multitude of viewpoints on this. Historically, the two most popular views are the Sethite and the fallen angel viewpoints.[3]  Though, fallen man, angelic possession, and royalty also shared some success as well. 

When it comes to ancient sources and commentators as far back as 2,000 years ago, many did not use these terms or go into great detail; but we try to decipher what their view was based on a handful of comments. So in some ancient commentators there may be cases where one may be appealing to a Sethite, fallen man, or royalty view and we can’t be certain and likewise some ancients may be referring to fallen angels view, or angelic possession view.

Also, there may be some other very minor viewpoints and variants floating about but these constitute the majority. And so these will be the focus of discussion.



[1] For more on this please see: The New Answers Book 1, Ken Ham, Gen. Ed., chapter by Dr. Jason Lisle: Are ETs & UFOs real?, Master Books, Green Forest, AK, 2006.

[2] Some may pull this out as distinct from the Sethite view, and I have no problem with that. But since it follows with Sethite kings prior to the Flood (and potential some others) and also, by default all kings post-Flood are Sethite, as a categorical viewpoint, it would be safe to give this as a Sethite variant.

[3] It depends on who is speaking but some think the fallen angels view is the most popular today and other say they Sethite is the most popular. I’ve found that it depends on which theological group one is speaking to. Many within the dispensational framework hold to the fallen angels view, but not all of course. Then regarding reformed, Lutheran, and covenant theology circles, most hold to the Sethite view which was the view of most reformers.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Nephilim An Introduction

 

What about the "Nephilim" and the “sons of God” in Genesis 6?

An Introduction 

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, October 2, 2020

Introduction

I am one of the “sons of God”.[1]

Just the mere mention of “nephilim” or the “sons of God” is likely to conjure up hard-to-believe notions of strange and wacky beliefs. If you are reading this looking for support for the idea of 10-to-20 foot giants and half-demonic beings fighting Jesus and His resurrected saints back to Jerusalem, this isn’t for you.

Instead, this is designed to reasonably look at this subject from a balanced and biblical viewpoint and avoid some of the crazy speculations and far-fetched beliefs that many nephilim commentators have done. In fact, many of those arbitrary conjectures are going to be refuted in this series.

Far too often, I read reused arguments that have long since been refuted but the refutation was ignored. Scripture is often twisted to make strange interpretations in an effort to convince readers of a particular position.  

It’s time for an honest and diligent assessment of the nephilim and the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 from someone who has changed their position on the subject as a result of biblical study. I used to hold to the position where fallen angels married and bred with women to get half angelic and half human beings. But no longer—and I’m up front about that. But because I used to hold to that position, I want to be honest with its teachings (which tend to vary depending to whom you are talking) while at the same time respectfully showing its flaws.

The previous position I held was based on the teachings of Dr. Henry Morris, the founder of The Institute for Creation Research (ICR). He was a godly man to whom great respect is deserved. Though disagreeing on biblical grounds on this subject, much of Dr. Morris’ groundbreaking work on creation is highly recommended. He is still seen as a hero of the faith in my eyes.

But let’s (you and me—author and reader) dive into this discussion together—not as a heated debate but as brothers and sisters in the Lord wanting to grow and understand this “hot-button” issue at a much more profound level. I’m writing this to Christians who have a basic understanding of Christianity but want to sincerely understand what is going on with the “sons of God” and nephilim debate. 

Where to begin?

Reading through Genesis chapter 6, we learn about the “sons of God” and the nephilim (transliterated from the Hebrew; translated as “giants” in some translations). The greater context begins in Genesis 4:1-24 where we learn the genealogy and events from Adam to Naamah. Then the text shifts in Genesis 4:25 to reveal the genealogy from Adam to Noah and his three sons which ends in Genesis 5:32. In both lineages we seen where men were multiplying on the earth.  

 Immediately following these lineages, we get to the pertinent text in Genesis 6:1-4

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.  Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4, NAS)

 The other relevant passage is in the book of Numbers which takes place long after the Flood.

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:30-33, NAS)

If someone ask who these “sons of God” were or who the nephilim were, they are liable to get a host of different answers and perhaps even be drawn into a debate on the subject just by asking the question! This happened to me countless times when researching the topic.

Furthermore, we read about “sons of God” in several places later in Scripture. This is not to be confused with the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the Creator (John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1) of all things. We also find the nephilim mentioned once again by Moses in Number 13. Though, nephilim is spelt slightly different in Hebrew in this instance. 

 The nephilim debate is rather heated in some circles and merely simmering in others. It is like a bomb and it is ready to explode, if someone even “breathes” on the fuse! And there is a reason…Christians are not in agreement as to who the “sons of God” and the nephilim were. It is one of those topics that encompass controversy in both Genesis and Revelation (the nephilim are utilized in some eschatological models).

And just to note, people have been debating this for 2,000 years![2] Entire theologies are built around their alleged identity, as well as novels, and even some specific end times models have major points that hinge on it.

So their identity is indeed important and so the debate rages and as mentioned, I have even changed my position from my original leanings (fallen angels views) to now lean toward another position (fallen men views) for reasons that will be discussed in this series. If one disagrees with the conclusions, we can remain brothers and sisters in the Lord regardless of our stance on this debate.

What I hope to do is teach what the positions are within the debate and what many of the debate points really boil down to from a biblical authority perspective. Some positions are rather untenable and my hope is that these refutations  are used when evaluating what you believe regarding the subject.      



[1] Per John 1:12, Romans, 8:14-16, Galatians 3:26

[2] Due to the volume of authors, theologians, commentaries, etc. that have written about the sons of God and the Nephilim, I’ve opted to not reference each argument and counterargument in detail, or I would have had more references than text. In an effort to keep this an easily readable document, I will merely be focusing on the arguments as the basis for this discussion. A few references are given that are required though.

Tongues Prophecy

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