Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Heiser Clarifies Misunderstandings in My Review

In my last post I reviewed chapters from my friend Michael Heiser's forthcoming book, The Myth That Is True. He wrote me a response pointing out several areas where I seem to have misunderstood him. He said my misunderstandings were helpful, for they pointed out areas where he might need to be clearer in the text. But I certainly don't want to in any way misrepresent his position, so I'd like to post his clarifications.

1. I said I thought the "lynch-pin in Heiser’s thesis is Genesis 3:15 in which the Lord says that, because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, there would be on-going enmity between the offspring of the serpent (ha nachash) and the descendants of Eve.” Heiser responded:

My view of the nachash is not a lynchpin to the later idea connecting the holy wars of Joshua to the giant clans. You can hold the latter without the former.

2. I thought Michael was arguing that the Nephilim were the offspring of ha nachash that Yahweh had earlier prophesied would war against humans. Heiser wrote:

Actually, I don’t believe the nephilim are literally connected to the nachash in any sort of genealogical way. The nephilim are spiritually the seed of the nachash in that they are enemies of the people of God. The nephilim are “demon seed” in that they were fathered by divine beings, but they are never linked to the nachash (the “serpent”) in the Bible. They’re just “on the same team” as enemies of God and God’s human family. The nephilim are a “fulfillment” of the curse about the seed of the nachash hating the seed of the woman—but the nephilim are seed of the nachash only in that they are enemies of the people of God. It just happens they aren’t mere humans. No “familial link” can be established between the nachash and the nephilim, but a “common enemy” link can certainly be established.

3. I said that "Satan’s strategy, presumably, was to pollute the human gene pool in order to prevent the arrival of the fully human descendant of Eve (Jesus) who would overthrow Satan’s reign on earth.” Michael responded:

I don’t believe that the POINT of the cohabitation of divine beings and human women was to infect the messianic line. That was a residual effect, but not the motivation. There is no biblical or Second Temple literature that has the sons of God expressing the motive of disrupting the messianic line.

4. I thought Michael was arguing that the reason God ordered the Canaanites exterminated was because he wanted "to ensure that his people, from whom the Messiah would come, would not be polluted with the ‘demon seed.’” Heiser responded:

This overstates my position. The need to eradicate the nephilim was not to save the messianic line (I don’t say that in the book to my knowledge). Rather, the reason is to reclaim the land promised to them from ancient enemies who were descended from the nephilim.

5. I said that "while it seems only the Anakites were direct descendants of the Nephilim, this passage [Num. 13:33] suggests that the demonically-caused genetic propensity toward great height was very widespread. In other words, it suggests that many if not all Canaanites were at least indirectly related to the Nephilim.” Michael responded:

I don’t like the phrase “demonically caused” because the sons of God were not demons. They are different beings. This makes it sound (again) like I see a “genetic” link between the nachash and the nephilim, when I don’t. The height was due to the fathership of the sons of God, not demons. (Yes, the sons of God were corrupt and sinned, but “angelology” is not so simple as to use the word “demon” of them. Demons have their own separate origin. The text also doesn’t say (and I don’t say) that the Anakim were first generation descendants of the nephilim (but it does link them securely in some generational relationship).

My hearty thanks to Michael for these clarifications. If this is a topic that interests you, I encourage you to read his book when its published. And for related interesting reflections on "the divine council" (Michael's specialty), check out his website.