GENESIS 6:1-8. : Who were “Sons of God” in Genesis 6 and what role did they play in human history?
Who were the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 and what role did they play in Human History? 1. Introduction
There has been much speculation about the meaning of the "sons of God" and who do they relate to in the book of Genesis 6. While not fully agreed upon, there are three basic interpretations of this passage. The oldest generally agreed belief is that "the sons of God" were fallen angels. It is advocated that angels were attracted to earthly women and took the form of human-like beings. The sin in this case was the union between supernatural beings and humans. These creatures married human women and they bore a corrupt race of giants.11 This view was widely held and was supported by the earliest Jewish writers such as Flavius Josephus, Philo, Eusebius and many of the early church fathers including Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Athenagoras and Commodianus. The second view is one which was first suggested by Julius Africanus in the third century CE and strongly supported by Saint Augustine, the Catholic Bishop of Hippo. The interpretation, proposes to take the term “sons of God” to mean the chosen portion of mankind, Seth’s male descendants and the daughters were Cain’s female descendants. This union between Seth’s sons who were considered as good and daughters of Cain considered as bad, was the beginning of mixed marriages The other concept is that "the sons of God" were Rulers. This view provided a basis for explanation of rabbinical Judaism. According to this view Kings and the divinely honored took to themselves any women of their choice. The honored8 divine rulers took to themselves any wife weather from among the commoners, presumably the line of Cain or Seth. The nature of the sin is thought to lie in polygamy. However, it is not widely accepted by modern scholars. As our discussion is centered on defining the “sons of God” we would be justified to occasionally include the term “daughters of men” Their role with the sons of God connects to provide an explanation to the sin which was the reason for judgment by a devastating flood. To help us shed more light on who these "sons of God" were, we will expand our boundaries to examine various outside sources relevant to this text. Then we will examine the bible contextually as the ultimate authority. 2. The following chief views have been suggested namely, (a) the view that the sons of god refer to angels (b) the godly-line of Seth view, and (c) dynastic-rulers or kings view.19
2. (a) “Sons of God" as Angels
Philo of Alexandria was an Egyptian Hellenistic Jewish Bible expositor. He wrote very detailed expositions on the Pentateuch.16 He made the following comments: ‘And when the angels of God saw the daughters of men ... Those beings, whom other philosophers call demons, Moses usually calls angels; and they are souls hovering in the air.16 It is rather remarkable that he does not accept them to be demons, but angels, souls that hover in the air
The book of Enoch presents a picture of Genesis 6 in support of the angelic concept. ‘And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after the beautiful and comely daughters of men’.20The angels who sinned are bound to wait for judgment.21
This book is not recognized as canonical by the rest of the church, 4 but Jude and 2 Peter used it in their canonical letters in the New Testament. Enoch also supported the notion that the angels were able to procreate with human beings and that the offspring of those union were giants. Saint Augustine dismisses with contempt the fables of those scriptures which are called apocryphal.15
Augustine in his book city of God2 however admits that he is aware of angels appearing in bodies and he is told about stories of women being assaulted by supernaturals,but he says “I could by no means believe that God’s holy angels could...
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