The Trouble With Angels
Welcome to my new website, just in time to publish The Seed Bearer’s Bride, the second book in the Thrones of Genesis series! It’s now live on Amazon in both e-book and print formats. E-book FREE August 27-29, 2021
The year 2019 was a tremendous challenge after the deaths of both my husband and youngest son. But here I am, doing stuff and happy with my new book. Here’s the introduction to this romp through the pre-Flood world in the primeval time of Adam and Eve:
We humans are hard-wired for mystery and transcendence. We crave a higher reality, one that’s hard to project against the mundane details of our material world. And one of the best sources for that kind of transcendent mystery is the Bible. A great example is Genesis 6:1-4, about an intriguing event that forms the premise for the story in The Seed Bearer’s Bride:
“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose… There were giants in the earth in those days…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.”
Looking at the text in the English translation, it’s natural to assume the “sons of God” refers to human men. Who else would be marrying those good-looking daughters of men and having kids with them? But the Hebrew meaning of the term, bene haelohim ( בני האלוהים), refers to a being directly created by God, in this case angels (see Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7 and Luke 20:36). In traditional Jewish and Christian theology, with the exception of Adam (the first human man), human beings are not directly created by God, but are Adam’s DNA progeny. We have navels to prove it.
On the other hand, “daughters of men,” benoth adam ( בנות של גברים), translates to daughters of Adam, which became the giant Nephilim. Nephilim הנפילים) means fallen ones or mighty ones. Humans mating with humans doesn’t produce giants, but supernatural beings mating with humans might. And voilà, a great foundation for a fantasy novel.
It’s a challenge to our sense of the incredulous to think of angels interacting sexually with humans. In Christian theology, the role of angels is to praise and serve God in various ways, not procreate. Angels are called the “bodiless powers,” and bodies are needed for mating as we know it. Yet if we accept that the Bible is full of concepts and events we adhere to without fully understanding (such as the concept of the Trinity or the resurrection of the dead), then procreation between humans and angels, though forbidden, might be possible.
Angels are all over the Bible and are described as men (Joshua 5: 13-15; Mark 16:1-5; Genesis 18 and many others). These celestial ones apparently have the ability to take on some version of material bodies in order to interact with people. In Genesis 32, the patriarch Jacob wrestled all night with an angel, who injured Jacob’s hip socket. In Genesis 19:16, an angel took Lot by the hand and in Genesis 18:8, three “men” whom Abraham recognized as God ate food Abraham and Sarai prepared and allowed their feet to be washed.
The First Book of Enoch is a non-canonical work that was revered by Jews and then Christians for several centuries before and after Christ. Part of the work is a narrative of two hundred Watchers (a classification of angels, meaning wakeful one, and mentioned in Daniel 4:13), who “kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation” (Jude 1:6) in order to cohabit with women. They produced enormous, hybrid offspring that dominated the earth. The narrative of The First Book of Enoch coincides with the Genesis 6 account.
We also have the clear endorsement of the early Church Fathers on this subject. Irenaeus, Ambrose, Clement of Rome, and Justin Martyr, among others, concurred on this phenomenon of the antediluvian world expressed in Genesis 6:1. Tertullian referred to the Nephilim giants as a “demon-brood” whose “great business is the ruin of mankind.” Irenaeus wrote this in his Discourse in the Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching: “And for a very long while wickedness extended and spread and reached and laid hold upon the whole race of mankind, until a very small seed of righteousness remained among them and illicit unions took place upon the earth, since angels were united with the daughters of the race of mankind; and they bore to them sons, who for their exceeding greatness were called giants.”
The renowned first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also wrote of the Nephilim in his Antiquities of the Jews.
But what would be the motivation for this massive cosmic disobedience, this enmeshing between angelic beings and flesh-and-blood bodies? Sexual attraction is obvious from the text, but more sinister is the possibility that in their fallen state, these celestial beings wanted to disrupt the human gene pool in order to prevent the coming of the savior figure promised to Eve in Genesis 3:15, whom I call “Anointed One” in The Seed Bearer’s Bride. In Hebrew, the meaning of the word Messiah is “anointed one.”
For those who want even more fodder for speculation, compare the Greek word oiketerion (“habitation”) in Jude 6 with the same word translated as “house” in 2 Corinthians 5:1. Both times the word indicates a change or transfer in bodily form, in the first case for angels and the second for human beings during the resurrection of their bodies at Christ’s Second Coming.
It’s not like the idea of giants is anything new. The lore of ancient cultures is full of these intriguing characters. Think of the Titans of ancient Greek mythology; the cannibalistic race of the cyclops found in Homer’s Odyssey; Gog, Magog, and the giants of the island of Albion (ancient England and Wales), who were said to be “ill favored” and possessed by evil spirits. For what it’s worth, enormous effigies of Gog and Magog are still wheeled through the streets of London every November in the Lord Mayor’s Show. Giants are alive and well in the legends and art of ancient Sumer, Crete, India, Africa, Scandinavia, ancient America, and everywhere in between. Myths aren’t created in a vacuum. Their roots usually have a foundation in reality.
As to the angels in my book, some of their identities and functions will be familiar, such as guardian angels. Other castes and hierarchies that I discovered in my research were new to me, like the “harps” and “glories,” which can be found in On the Heavenly Hierarchy by Dionysius the Areopagite, a fifth century philosopher and Athenian bishop. Besides my use of The First Book of Enoch and other pseudepigraphal sources, and allowing for some poetic license, I’ve tried to communicate my basic presuppositions about the nature, function, and history of angels, taken from the Bible and established Christian tradition. One interesting Christian belief found in 1 Peter 1:12 is that there are mysteries about Christ “into which angels long to look.” They aren’t omniscient; like us, they are always learning.
Along with angels and giants, the constellations also play a role in The Seed Bearer’s Bride. Let me stress that what I learned in my research regarding the most ancient beliefs about the role of stars has nothing to do with modern astrology as we know it. For an excellent introduction to these very old, non-occultic beliefs about the constellations, I recommend The Witness of the Stars by E.W. Bullinger. I’ve used the Hebrew names from Bullinger’s book for the constellations I animate in my story. In several chapters I personify some of the more familiar constellations as a way to raise the story’s stakes and advance my characters’ beliefs about the savior, Anointed One. The ancient Egyptian Denderah Zodiac, as well as Hebrew, Assyrian, and other old beliefs about the prophetic purpose of the stars are remarkably similar to each other. They are a book without words written in the sky, and the focus is a messianic figure.
The Bible offers other insights into the purpose of those tiny lights in the sky. Genesis 1:14 states that they are “for signs and for seasons.” Revelation 12:1-4 gives a fascinating description of a “great sign [that] appeared in heaven, a woman “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars,” possibly a reference to the Virgin Mary or the alignment of the stars and planets at the time of Christ’s birth, which produced the famous light of extraordinary brilliance that brought the Zoroastrian magi of Persia to the Christ child in Bethlehem. The ancient Hebrew name for that constellation is Bethuleh, which means “a virgin.”
Whatever you believe, buckle up for some entertaining fiction set in the antediluvian world and teeming with characters who love, hate, dream, scheme, and vacillate between doubt and faith as they try to figure out life, just like the rest of us.
I hope you’ll soon be enjoying The Seed Bearer’s Bride!
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