The Sons of God
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Wayne Grudem explains: This understanding of Genesis 6 [the angel view] is frequent in extra-biblical literature, being attested in at least the following nine texts: Josephus, Ant. However, it is often not appreciated that such an interpretation of Genesis 6 is far from uniform in Jewish tradition. The following list shows nine other texts where non-angelic interpretations are held: While Philo himself calls these 'sons of God' angels in one place, he later called them 'good and excellent men' Q.
Moreover the Targums and the Rabbinic literature are unanimous in viewing the 'sons of God' as human beings. Targum Onkelos on Genesis and 4 reads 'sons of princes' or great men, and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan has the same. Targum Neofiti has 'sons of the Judges' in both verses. Tosefta, Sotah 3: 9a interprets 'sons of God' as men of the generation of the flood. In the Midrash Rabbah, they are understood as 'sons of judges' and as leaders Gen. AD , or as the generation of men at the time of the flood. Symmachus translates Genesis as 'the sons of the rulers. And the citations in this second group are diverse and frequent enough to give strong indication of the existence of a 'non-angelic' view of the 'sons of God' in Judaism, especially more orthodox Judaism, before or during the time of the New Testament Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter , Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, IVP, , pp , Therefore the angel view was not the only position held in the ancient world.
Who Are the Sons of God and Daughters of Men in Genesis ?
Septuagint There is also the testimony from another ancient source. Some of the manuscripts containing Genesis read angels of God rather than sons of God. Response Only one manuscript Codex Alexandrinus reads angels of God. The critical editions of the Septuagint as well as two other ancient Greek translations read sons of God not angels of God in Genesis , 4. Therefore one cannot appeal to the Septuagint to support the idea of angels. Apocryphal Books A third ancient source that testifies to this view are the apocryphal books books written during the biblical period but not accepted as Scriptural.
C in chapters 6 and 7 says that angels lusted after human women and produced giants. The Book of Jubilees , dated B. Jubilees reports that these angels became consumed with lust and produced a race of giants The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs , 2 Enoch 18, and 2 Baruch 56 also testify that Genesis 6 speaks of angels being punished for their sin. Response How much credence do we give any of the apocryphal books?
Though they are ancient interpretations they not on the same level as inspired Scripture. As we have already noted, the angel view was not the only one held in antiquity. These apocryphal books represent only one interpretation. Obvious Reading As far as the biblical evidence is concerned, the interpretation of the sons of God meaning angels is the natural reading of the text. There is a direct antithesis between sons of God and daughters of men.
This argues for understanding the sons of God as non-human.
Response The view is not as obvious as some believe. Why didn't Moses say angels if he meant angels? There are fifteen references to angels in the Pentateuch and each time it refers to angels it calls them angels-never the sons of God. The only exception is Genesis when he calls them cherubim.
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Therefore calling them angels here is anything but obvious. To the contrary, the angel view would seem more inconsistent in this context of Genesis where angels are never specifically mentioned. Technical Phrase The Hebrew phrase bene ha'elohim translated sons of God Genesis , 4 is a technical construction.
When this phrase is used elsewhere in the Old Testament Job ; ; ; Daniel has the same expression in the singular it always refers to angels. See also a similar phrase in Psalm ; where the text obviously refers to angels.
Sons of God
Likewise, in the rabbinic literature, the phrase always refers to angels, never to men. When, therefore, we find the expression without any explanatory addition, we should not attribute to it a meaning other than that which it normally has in the Bible. Therefore, it's a reference to angels, not humans. Response First, there are only two places in the entire Old Testament where the exact phrase is used Job , In Job the definite article Ha is missing. Therefore to say that the term is used consistently for angels is misleading since there are only two other verses in the entire Old Testament where the exact the phrase is used.
The fact that these two places refer to angels is clear from the context, not from the phrase itself. Phrase Does Mean Humans. Donate Contact. Blue Letter Bible is a c 3 nonprofit organization. Cite this page MLA format. APA format. Chicago format. SBL format. Share this page using one of these tools: Or email this page to a friend: You must be logged in to send email.
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