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Old 05-08-2012, 07:22 AM
 
Location: New York City
5,556 posts, read 7,023,698 times
Reputation: 1355

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I knew that other thread would be closed so I figured I would start this here.

For the record, I know that in the New Testament and the book of Hosea, humans are referred to as "sons of god." My argument surrounds the EARLIER used title found in books such as Genesis and Job.

Also, I do NOT believe in angels, sons of any gods or giants nor do I believe in angels and humans copulating. I simply want to treat the literature AS IS on its own merit and how it was intended to be interpreted. I don't believe in flying angels any more than I believe in Phaeton driving a fiery sun chariot across the sky, but WITHIN the story of the book and WITHIN the book only, Phaeton drove a fiery sun chariot across the sky. I hope this distinction is made clear.

So for starters, who were the sons of god of Genesis 6? Mere mortals or divinity?
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Old 05-08-2012, 08:24 AM
 
3,488 posts, read 3,370,188 times
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You were correct in guessing that, Insane! You know what they say about doing standup: there's always a heckler in the audience, or someone who doesn't get it! Despite that - it did produce some interesting discussion (mostly).

My view still remains the same, from my reply to purehuman in the other thread: they were seen by the writer as gods. The usage of "sons of god" to denote "gods" has definite linguistic and cultural backgrounds in other Northwest Semitic languages, such as Ugaritic - to name an obvious example - and the Israelites were part of this West Semitic group in more ways than Fundamentalists will ever care to admit.

The story appears to be a remnant of an older, probably more complete, story which was severely abridged into the form in which we now have it. Whether this abridgement was performed by the Yahwist (J), or when J and E were combined into JE, or when P set his hand to the task - the fact still remains that at that time in Israelite religious thought the term "sons of God" or "sons of the gods" clearly meant "gods". Only in later time would all such references to gods be demythologized into representations of angels, or mere functionaries of Yahweh. The term "angel" isn't even present in the texts until Greek translations rendered "messenger" as "angelos". Even the idea that they were "pious mortals" was a later attempt at softening the blow of this story for later readers.

The confusing issue here is that later tradition and theology (as well as monotheistic or Yahweh-Alone ideology) is being retrojected anachronistically onto a text that was written long before such ideas were present in Israelite conceptions of divinity. But this is nothing new - later biblical writers would perform the same task. It just so happens that many readers prefer to use the New Testament or Second Temple Judaism as a lens at which to re-read the text.

Speiser expresses a sentiment about it, however, that seems extremely important to it's later reception:
It [the traditions related in the short story] was by J's time familiar to much of the ancient world. It could hardly have been a stranger to J or his own immediate sources.

It is evident, moreover, from the tenor of the Hebrew account that its author was highly critical of the subject matter. It makes little difference whether J took the contents at face value or, as is more likely (cf. vs. 5), viewed the whole as the product of man's morbid imagination. The mere popularity of the story would have been sufficient to fill him with horror at the depravity that it reflected. A world that could enteratin such notions deserved to be wiped out.
(Genesis: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Bible, p. 46, Doubleday, 1962)
It appears that thousands of years later - there are still some people who experience the same misgivings and must "clean it up".

Last edited by whoppers; 05-08-2012 at 08:44 AM..
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:43 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
1,266 posts, read 1,012,747 times
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No question they were second-tier divine beings, like Yhwh originally was. A recent attempt to promote the Sethite interpretation was actually published by an academic journal (here), but the vast, vast majority of scholars acknowledge this. A book that gathers a lot of good info on lesser deities is here (I review it here), and a paper I presented at SBL on the transition from "sons of God" to "angels" is here.
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Athens, Greece
526 posts, read 591,635 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
So for starters, who were the sons of god of Genesis 6? Mere mortals or divinity?
I suggest that you ask one more question and try to answer it yourself:
“Are there sons of gods mentioned in any other people’s traditions?”

Mythology is full of sons of gods that the gods produced by raping “mortal” women. Why should the sons of gods of the Hebrew traditions be different?

P.S. Whoppers post was excellent this time.
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Sierra Nevada Land, CA
8,778 posts, read 9,561,611 times
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Usually when you ask what something means in one part of the Bible it is answered in another part.

From the book of Job, chapter one:

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. 2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.
4 And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”

**********
Here the sons of God are what we would call angels. Or divine beings.
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Athens, Greece
526 posts, read 591,635 times
Reputation: 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel O. McClellan View Post
No question they were second-tier divine beings, like Yhwh originally was. A recent attempt to promote the Sethite interpretation was actually published by an academic journal (here),...
Do they actually want me to pay US$25.00 in order to read the article or there is something I got wrong?
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Athens, Greece
526 posts, read 591,635 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr5150 View Post
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”

**********
Here the sons of God are what we would call angels. Or divine beings.
Only that they are not the sons of God but the sons of Angels.
Elohim means Judges, Angels, gods and God, so in this case reference is not made to those sons of the gods who came into the daughters of men.
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:49 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,556 posts, read 7,023,698 times
Reputation: 1355
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
You were correct in guessing that, Insane! You know what they say about doing standup: there's always a heckler in the audience, or someone who doesn't get it! Despite that - it did produce some interesting discussion (mostly).

My view still remains the same, from my reply to purehuman in the other thread: they were seen by the writer as gods. The usage of "sons of god" to denote "gods" has definite linguistic and cultural backgrounds in other Northwest Semitic languages, such as Ugaritic - to name an obvious example - and the Israelites were part of this West Semitic group in more ways than Fundamentalists will ever care to admit.

The story appears to be a remnant of an older, probably more complete, story which was severely abridged into the form in which we now have it. Whether this abridgement was performed by the Yahwist (J), or when J and E were combined into JE, or when P set his hand to the task - the fact still remains that at that time in Israelite religious thought the term "sons of God" or "sons of the gods" clearly meant "gods". Only in later time would all such references to gods be demythologized into representations of angels, or mere functionaries of Yahweh. The term "angel" isn't even present in the texts until Greek translations rendered "messenger" as "angelos". Even the idea that they were "pious mortals" was a later attempt at softening the blow of this story for later readers.

The confusing issue here is that later tradition and theology (as well as monotheistic or Yahweh-Alone ideology) is being retrojected anachronistically onto a text that was written long before such ideas were present in Israelite conceptions of divinity. But this is nothing new - later biblical writers would perform the same task. It just so happens that many readers prefer to use the New Testament or Second Temple Judaism as a lens at which to re-read the text.

Speiser expresses a sentiment about it, however, that seems extremely important to it's later reception:
It [the traditions related in the short story] was by J's time familiar to much of the ancient world. It could hardly have been a stranger to J or his own immediate sources.

It is evident, moreover, from the tenor of the Hebrew account that its author was highly critical of the subject matter. It makes little difference whether J took the contents at face value or, as is more likely (cf. vs. 5), viewed the whole as the product of man's morbid imagination. The mere popularity of the story would have been sufficient to fill him with horror at the depravity that it reflected. A world that could enteratin such notions deserved to be wiped out.
(Genesis: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Bible, p. 46, Doubleday, 1962)
It appears that thousands of years later - there are still some people who experience the same misgivings and must "clean it up".
Wonderful points and I cannot highlight the bolded portion enough. It is a chronic mistake the modern Christian make or perpetuate. Frankly, the myths, within themselves, are beautiful stories AS IS without the need to sanitize it to fit modern fancies.
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:51 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,556 posts, read 7,023,698 times
Reputation: 1355
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtango View Post
I suggest that you ask one more question and try to answer it yourself:
“Are there sons of gods mentioned in any other people’s traditions?”

Mythology is full of sons of gods that the gods produced by raping “mortal” women. Why should the sons of gods of the Hebrew traditions be different?

P.S. Whoppers post was excellent this time.
Ah yes, you can find this theme in cultures around the world which often prompts me to ask, did something really go down in the deepest recesses of human history on a level we can only now understand via myth?
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:59 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,556 posts, read 7,023,698 times
Reputation: 1355
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr5150 View Post
Usually when you ask what something means in one part of the Bible it is answered in another part.

From the book of Job, chapter one:

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. 2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.
4 And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”

**********
Here the sons of God are what we would call angels. Or divine beings.
As Whoppers pointed out earlier, the term "angels," in the sense we understand it today came much later and was then retrojected into older stories to "clean up" content. "Sons of God" implies "the dirty" (sex) and it is unthinkable that the biblical god could have sex much less even a wife (though he did). So how did the later Jewish writers fix this? Well, call them mere CREATED messengers, sent out to do god's work. Then one wonders why an all-powerful god needs messengers?

If I am not mistaken, the post-exilic monotheistic Jews in Egypt sanitized passages like Deuteronomy 32:8 (where the Dead Sea Scrolls say "sons of God") by calling them "angels" removing the notion that the biblical god could have sons, possible equals or rivals.
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