20 November 2008

The Book of Enoch (Pt 7) - The Angels of Jude

In continuing to look at the controversial discussion on angels and women procreating in Genesis 6, as laid out in detail in the book of Enoch and elsewhere, I wish to share a bit of modern scholarship on the topic from the recently released Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, from the discussion of the book of Jude. This book breaks down the verses and discusses them from various angles; NT Context, OT Context, and Jewish Context (with others). While this section is quite lengthy, I will try to compact it some, but this post will be a bit more lengthy than previous posts, so as to not lose the content.

In this section on Jude, they also tie it in and deal somewhat with a similar mention in 2 Peter:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:4-5)
Notice, again, the connection between the angels sinning followed by mention of Noah that I mentioned in previous articles. Then, in moving to Jude.
And the angels that did not keep within their original authority, but abandoned their proper sphere, he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for the Judgment of the Great Day. And S’dom, ‘Amora and the surrounding cities, following a pattern like theirs, committing sexual sins and perversions, lie exposed as a warning of the everlasting fire awaiting those who must undergo punishment. (Jude 6-7 CJB)
The following are excerpts from the author on the topic:
The most plausible interpretation of Jude 4 is that the author has in mind ancient Jewish prophecies found in the Scriptures, for these are the examples that he proceeds to list in vv. 5-7, 11...These ancient prophecies may, in Jude's mind, include prophetic words from 1 Enoch.

Under the assumption that the OT background to Jude 6 is Gen. 6:1-4, we must ask what the latter passage means. There have been three primary interpretations: (1) the "sons of God" are angels who crossed species lines and married human women, producing "Nephilim" who were "heroes of old, men of renown" (Gen. 6:4); (2) the "sons of God" were kings, judges and other members of aristocratic nobility who displayed their own greatness by indulging in polygamy and creating harems; (3) the "sons of God" were human males from the putatively godly line of Seth who freely married women from ungodly lines.

Nowadays the majority of interpreters from across the theological spectrum accept the angel interpretation...This interpretation is assumed by the LXX, and supported by most early Jewish exegesis, though not quite all, as well as by all the earliest church fathers and some later ones (including Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Lactantius), but not by some later fathers (Chrysostom, Augustine, Theodoret). "Sons of God" (in the plural) refers elsewhere in the OT to angels - certainly so in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7, and probably so in Ps. 29:1; 89:7; Dan. 3:25 (where bar-'elahin underlies the traditional rendering "mighty ones" or the like found in most English versions). Yet the interpretation does not easily fit the context of the flood, since that judgment is pronounced against humanity. (I fail to see the issue here personally...if the marriage produced wicked offspring, mixing the blood of species, and if the angels and their offspring taught mankind all kinds of sinful practices, weaponry, war, astrology, etc. then all of mankind has been tainted by this wickedness, and therefore mankind needed cleansed...save Noah and his family who had not been tainted by this union and its teachings - JM). According to Jesus, angels do not marry (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25) (do not marry each other...that is about the most you can take from this reference by Jesus, that the common practice of marriage is a covenant that angels do not engage in, in their spiritual existence - since he is relating it to man in his post-resurrected state. However, this does not in anyway make a case for the inability of angels to marry or procreate with other species, which is the case in Gen 6 - JM), and although excellent efforts have been undertaken to avoid this and other objections to the angel interpretation, the niggle make it less than a sure thing.
I will skip the majority of the refutation on the authors part of the view that "sons of God" refers to kings, nobles, and other aristocrats, since personally I have found this to be a less often used view in this discussion. But in brief, his conclusion to the refutations is:
...there is no linguistic warrant outside of Gen. 6:1-4 for supposing that "sons of God" refers to "divine kings" or, more generally, to aristocratic ruling figures, wheras the reading of "angels" has a long track record, including the LXX (Septuagint - JM).
He then continues in the sons of Seth view:
The view that "sons of God" refers to the line of Seth, while daughters of human beings" refers to non-Sethian women, not only suffers from an absence of philological support but also has few elements in its favor compared with the "diving kings" view.
To me it seems like a pretty big leap to say the sons of Seth and the ungodly human marriage would produce such notable and giant offspring that would so taint mankind that they would need exterminated. Breaking covenant is one thing, but throughout the rest of the OT, we find other sons of godly Israel intermarrying with pagan neighbors, and no such odd offspring or repercussions come about.

He goes on in the following sub-sections to state:
The interpretation of Gen. 6:1-4 that takes "the sons of God" to be angels (often called "Watchers") who have sexual intercourse with women is widespread in early Judaism (e.g., 1 En. 6-19; 21; 86-88; Jub. 4:15, 22; 5:1; CD=A II, 17-19; 1QapGen ar II, 1; Tg. Ps.-J. Gen. 6:1-4; T. Reub. 5:6-7; T. Naph. 3:5; 2 Bar. 56:10-14).

However we understand "the sons of God" in the Hebrew of Gen. 6:1-4, the LXX refers to them as angeloi, which word is picked up in both Jude 6 and 2 Pet. 2:4 and, in the NT, is almost always used of angels, rarely "messengers," and never of aristocratic figures such as kings and nobles. In other words, on the basis of philology alone, the angel interpretation seems most credible, unless one accepts the synthesis of Waltke and others who see that the "divine kings" are "possessed" by fallen angels, combining the strengths of the first two interpretations.
So, all in all, another mostly positive testimony for the historic view.

Here is an article I found that goes into a lot of interpretive detail on the subject. Though I do not agree with all of what is said, much of it provides good insight in the matter. Click HERE

View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8