6

While the time of production of Genesis and Jude is separated by hundreds of years, it remains possible that there are literary, inter-textual connections between them. I am interested to know whether the so-called "angel marriages" recounted in Genesis 6:1-6 finds any illumination in the "rebellious angels" passage in the little letter of Jude.

The first four verses Genesis 6:1-6 read this way:

1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

As I understand it, there are two main options interpreters generally choose between. One camp believes the sons of God are men (i.e., mortals), the other believes they are angels (i.e., supernatural beings).

Does Jude give any insight into what was believed about the "angel marriages" in the time that letter was written, and do the words they and these in particular in v. 7 hold the key on this question?

Jude vv. 5-7:

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. [NASB]

Jude is reflecting on the Genesis text here:

  • if we can establish who the they and these represent in Jude v. 7, a corollary to the answer to this question -- regarding whether the sons of God are angelic or human -- may imply that both the they and the these did the same thing ("in the same way") namely "went after strange flesh";

  • Jude v. 6 also says that these angels did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode. Does this also indicate the nature and meaning of "going after strange flesh". Did they leave a spiritual state and enter a physical one?

My central questions, then, are these:

  • is Jude thinking of the "angel marriages" in vv. 5-7?
  • if yes, does that account tell us whether Jude thinks the "beings" involved in the marriages of Genesis 6:1-6 were mortal or supernatural beings?

  • 2
    @JohnUnsworth Your 1st sentance is correct; there is much debate over whether angels "cohabitated" or infused with spiritual power with the daughters of men. When Jesus rebuked the Sadducees of their error, He said, "They neither marry, nor are given in marriage(in the resurrection) but are as the angels of God in Heaven."(Mt. 22:30) It seems, therefore, angels are without human reproductive organs, yet can 'appear' as men. What is clear is that through a "Process of Time" these fallen angels were able to directly affect the human anatomy(we see this through sickness and disease) – Tau Feb 23 '15 at 1:25
  • 1
    @JohnUnsworth (cont.)where they caused abnormal growth in height/size dimensions, which produced the "children of Anak" and there have been archeological finds of these giants. Most certainly, if we follow Scripture, they would have had to be in the genetics, as neither Noah, his wife or his sons were spoken of as giants. It is clear Satan wanted to raise an order of supermen, after his power, to terrorize men and get them to submit to his will. The Book of Enoch clearly states this. And by God's limiting of man's lifetime, put an end to this strategy. – Tau Feb 23 '15 at 1:34
  • @Tau I think you may have missed the order in Enoch. Enoch states that the fallen angels did cohabit with women. He later says that the spirits of the giants were what we know as demons and as such were condemned to walk the earth after the flood. I can find the references if you wish. These demons as you say changed the physical form of those they inhabited and their is a strong case for this assertion in the words regarding the establishment of Nimrod. As regards the possibility of reproductive organs, we must assume that if we can establish from scripture that angels did cohabit with..cont. – John Unsworth Feb 23 '15 at 19:17
  • women then they did have reproductive organs. Jesus is speaking of Angels that did not fall, angels that did not leave their first abode, and as such they are neither male or female. I think the whole point of what the fallen angels did was that they transgressed their boundary. If this means they used God given powers to do that which they were not permitted, scripture surely affirms this in many other instances. They used their God given life and power to attempt to usurp Gods throne, why would it then be so unimaginable that they would take flesh if permitted in order to cohabit w women! – John Unsworth Feb 23 '15 at 19:22
  • 1
    Angels(or demons) are spirit beings, so as such they may influence flesh, such as disease or sickness, but cannot create(this is the agency of God). I have no doubt that they 'appeared' to men, just as Satan did in the form of a serpent, to Eve. And they can influence sexual thoughts(perversely). But they cannot 'create'(or procreate), their number was appointed by God. 'Leaving' their 1st estate was attempting to 'procreate' to create a race of superhumans, through man's genes. And even after the Flood, these 'genes' were still manifesting. – Tau Feb 23 '15 at 22:34
7

This issue is addressed in detail in Richard Bauckham's commentary onmJude and II Peter, published by Thomas Nelson in its Word Biblical Commentary series. The literary link that you hypothesize is "The Book of Enoch," which is a very real work, and which is still accepted as canon by the Ethiopian Coptic Church. You can find the full text of the book of Enoch easily enough, and should be able to find the specific language quoted in Jude and sort-of-quoted in II Peter.

There is a quite a bit in the Book of Enoch that appears to have influenced the early church. Neither Jude nor Peter reject it as heresy, but the early church councils (outside of Ethiopia) did not accept it as canon, either. On the whole, it would seem that Jude and Peter accept the Book of Enoch's reading of Genesis 6, which means that they probably believed that fallen angels had intercourse with human women and produced biological offspring that were destroyed in the Flood and whose spirits have been kept imprisoned awaiting a day of judgment.

  • Scott I believe you will find that Enoch reports that the fallen Angels were imprisoned until judgement day, 1 Enoch Chapter 10. The spirits of their offspring (giants) remained upon the earth after their bodies were destroyed in the flood, restlessly wandering and are represented as demons in the N.T. See The Book of Enoch chapter 15: 8-12. If you find this to be an accurate assessment of the text you may wish to edit your answer. – John Unsworth Mar 1 '15 at 16:37
3

Yes, and Yes (though marriage doesn't figure in either passage). Jude wrote that those among the saints who are perverting the gospel have been designated for condemnation (v.4), and he gave three examples of groups who have already faced that end:

  • those who were saved from Egypt but did not believe (v.5);
  • angels who had sex with human women (v.6); and
  • “they in the same way as these,” the men of Sodom and Gomorrah (v.7).

The second and third examples are alike, Jude explained, because both involve fornication between those of very different flesh (σαρκὸς ἑτέρας, sarxos heteras). Jude understood both to be examples of sex between angels and humans.

The story of Sodom is often thought of today as relating to homo-sexuality. But for Jude it was a prime example of exactly the opposite, of extreme hetero-sexuality -- heteras and different because it was sex outside the defined orders of creation (where animals, humans, and angels are in different created orders, or domains). The attempted rape of angels in Sodom is therefore similar to the previous example where angels left their heavenly domain to have sex with human women, which is how 1 Enoch 6-10 explains the curious story in Gen.6:1-6. In both cases, Jude contended, condemnation was severe and eternal, even as it would be for those who pervert the gospel of Christ.

  • Thanks for your answer. You argue that "σαρκὸς ἑτέρας" conveys some sense of cross species sexuality of some sort. Would you mind providing a reference to support this? Perhaps an example from Greek Literature, or from ancient Biblical Sources? Would you mind contributing this idea to the closely related question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/19854/… – elika kohen Sep 10 '15 at 5:18
  • To the best of my knowledge, this exact word combination – σαρκὸς ἑτέρας (‘other than usual’ or ‘different’ flesh) – appears only here in extant Greek literature. But I note 1 Enoch 15 repeatedly mentions the ‘flesh’ of the human women with whom the rebellious angels had sex, contrasting it with the angel's spiritual nature. The biblical model of human male/female intercourse is one of ‘same-flesh’ sexuality (“bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh”), so it’s reasonable, I think, for Jude to describe angel/human intercourse as ‘other-flesh’ sexuality. – Schuh Sep 12 '15 at 19:10
  • “The tie between the [angels in v.6, aka the] Watchers and Sodom examples is evident from Jude 7 – in both, there is a desire for σαρκὸς ἑτέρας (‘strange flesh’) that involves sexual transgression of the natural order dividing heavenly and earthly figures. .... That the author is appealing to the Enochic account of the Watchers ... is very likely because Enochic traditions also appear elsewhere in Jude.” ~ Eric F. Mason, “Watchers Traditions in the Catholic Epistles,” in The Watchers in Jewish and Christian Traditions, ed. Angela Kim Harkins (Fortress Press: 2014); pp.69-80. – Schuh Sep 12 '15 at 19:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.