Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing
Farrell Till alleges [ref003]Genesis 6:1-4
proves the book of Genesis contains a mixture of mythology. In fact, Till
has simply misread the passage. What is the meaning of [ref004]Genesis 6:1-4?
Science confirms the unitary origin of the human species in reports of
experiments that validate [ref005]Genesis 3:20,
wherein Eve is named the mother of all living. All women now living on
the earth derive from but one common mother.
In the May 13, 1985, issue of The New Yorker, Alex Shoumatoff
demonstrated the "diamond shape" of human genealogy. This is
true since ancient cultures did not have the distance-conquering
automobiles and conveyances that modern man possesses.
Adam Clarke in his admired commentary concludes that the phrase
"sons of God" certainly cannot mean (as skeptics desire)
"sons of gods." The polytheistic presupposition Mr. Till brings
to his reading makes him stumble over the passage and so misunderstand its
What is meant by "sons of God"? These are the descendants of
righteous Abel. Who are the daughters of men? These are the offspring of
evil Cain. Such a reading makes much more sense than the skeptical
skullduggery Till's essay engages in.
6:4 causes much trouble for Mr. Till, especially when it comes to
"nephilim in the earth." The root word here is naphal and means
to fall. The King James translators followed the Septuagint and thus
"giants." We do not have inspired translations, but we do have
Mr. Till cites [ref007]Numbers
13:32-33 where the word Nephilim is associated with people of great
stature, but the correct meaning of the word is, among other things, to
fall upon. Hence, the "sons of Anak" were men of violence and
perhaps inclined to banditry and such like.
6:11 says the earth was filled with violence. Thus is explained the
Nephilim that Mr. Till transforms into giants to suit his polytheistic
Furthermore, the rebellion of the angels ([ref009]Jude 6) must be separated
from the sexual crimes of Sodom in [ref010]Jude 7. The reason Mr.
Till is a skeptic and not a saint today appears to be primarily due to a
massive misreading of the text and too much study of noninspired works
such as the spurious book of Enoch.
I pray the day will come when Farrell Till returns to the faith and again
preaches the truth from the book of books, the Holy Bible.
(Steve Gunter's address is 1202 Royal Drive, Bentonville, AR 72712.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: I was tempted to forego my usual editorial rejoinder and
just let the glaring inadequacy of Mr. Gunter's "rebuttal" speak
for itself. Of ten fundamentalist preachers and writers who were sent
advanced copies of "If It Walks Like a Duck..." Mr. Gunter was
the only one who accepted our invitation to write a rebuttal. Since the
offer was made and he at least made the effort, we decided to publish his
Mr. Gunter sorely needs to explain his allusion to scientific
confirmation of "the unitary origin of the human species" that
he claims "validates [ref011]Genesis 3:20
wherein Eve is named the mother of all living." If he meant the
findings of biochemists Vincent Sarich and Allan Wilson, whose studies in
mitochondrial DNA have traced the ancestry of all humans back to one
woman, he needs to take another look at the data. Their studies were based
on the assumption of a 2 to 4 percent steady rate of mutation in
mitochondrial DNA every million years. Since mitochondrial enzymes are
carried in the ovum but not the sperm, Sarich's and Wilson's DNA
"clock" was able to trace human ancestry back to a single woman
who had lived 200,000 years ago. I wonder if Gunter is willing to accept
that date. The same DNA clock indicates that the hominid line that
eventually produced "Eve" had diverged 5 million years ago from
the primates that chimpanzees and gorillas evolved from. Is Gunter
willing to accept that finding? If not, he has no business citing
scientific "discoveries" whose major conclusions he rejects. At
any rate, the last thing Mr. Gunter should be doing is appealing to
science to prove the accuracy of the Genesis record. He will find himself
in a peck of trouble if he keeps doing that.
I wonder why he even referred to "the unitary origin of the human
species." What relevance does it have to the issue we are supposed
to be discussing? All humans have descended from one woman; therefore,
the Genesis writer could not have believed that angels once intermarried
with human women. Is that what he was trying to say? If so, he will have
to explain his logic to me, because I can't see any possible reasoning
principle to base that conclusion on. Surely, he doesn't think that I
believe angels and human women actually did marry. I believe only that
the Genesis writer thought that such marriages did occur. But even if
angels and women had in fact married as the Genesis writer obviously
believed, the mitochondrial DNA studies would still be irrelevant to the
issue. Mitochondrial DNA can be transmitted only by females, and in the
mixed marriages of Genesis 6, the angels had assumed the male role in
reproduction. So why did Gunter wag this into the debate?
He spoke of Adam Clarke's "admired commentary," but he didn't
tell us anything about who admires it and what that admiration is supposed
to mean. He didn't even tell us Clarke's grounds for concluding that beni
ha-elohim in [ref012]Genesis 6:2 could
not mean "sons of the gods"; he just told us that Clarke had
concluded this and apparently expected us to accept it with no supporting
explanation. I suspect that Mr. Gunter is too accustomed to speaking to
gullible pulpit audiences who buy everything he says without demanding
Clarke's commentary is widely used by fundamentalist preachers, so that
alone speaks volumes about what one can expect to find in it when the
issue of inerrancy is at stake. One has to wonder, then, just how naive
Mr. Gunter is to think that the mere citing of what a
"commentary" says is sufficient to settle an issue as complex
as this one. I can cite Bible commentaries that agree with my position,
so what does that prove? The Revised English Bible was translated by a
committee of reputable Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic scholars, and they
translated beni ha-elohim in [ref013]Genesis 6 as
"sons of the gods." That surely carries more scholastic weight
than what a single unabashedly fundamentalist commentator has said on the
Gunter accused me of "transform(ing)" the Nephilim into
giants to suit my "polytheistic presuppositions." In so doing,
he completely ignored my analysis of the word nephilim, which showed that
its usage in the OT was clearly associated with giantism. If I have
"transformed" the Nephilim into giants, I am in good company,
because the translators of several versions (KJV, GNB, Septuagint,
Amplified, Confraternity, Revised Berkeley, Lamsa's, and Living Bible)
rendered the word giants. In past articles, I have reminded readers that
the Holy Spirit (according to the inerrancy doctrine) must have held the
Septuagint in high regard, because he frequently directed New Testament
writers to quote it. How then can Gunter discredit it as he did by
faulting the KJV translators for "follow(ing) the Septuagint"?
If the Septuagint was good enough for the Holy Spirit, why shouldn't it
have been good enough for the KJV translators?
As for my "polytheistic presuppositions," are we to assume
that Mr. Gunter's hermeneutic approach to this passage was completely
free of presuppositions? I suspect that if he examined his motives
closely enough he would find at least a smidgen of predisposition to the
inerrancy doctrine in his denial of angels and giants in this Genesis
Gunter told us that the sons of God in this passage were merely
"the descendants of righteous Abel" and that the daughters of
men were "the offspring of evil Cain." But what evidence did he
offer to prove this theory? None whatsoever! It was simply an arbitrary
pronouncement. Anyone with experience in trying to reason with
bibliolaters knows that they are good at making arbitrary pronouncements
to resolve discrepancies in the Bible. The only problem is that arbitrary
pronouncements prove nothing.
One has to wonder, however, about certain implications in this
pronouncement. If the "sons of God" were "descendants of
righteous Abel" and "the daughters of men" were "the
offspring of evil Cain," does this mean that righteousness and
wickedness are hereditary traits? If one had descended from Abel, he was
righteous; if one had descended from Cain, he was evil. Is this what
Gunter is saying? Unless the Church of Christ has changed radically since
I was in it, I don't think he will be willing to accept the idea of
hereditary good and evil. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Bible text
to indicate that Cain lived an evil life after his exile for killing his
brother. Certainly, there is nothing to suggest that his offspring were
any more evil than the offspring of Adam's and Eve's other children. So
just what is Gunter's basis for saying that "such a reading (sons
of God = descendants of righteous Abel, and daughters of men = offspring
of evil Cain) makes much more sense than the skeptical skullduggery Till's
essay engages in"? If completely groundless assumption makes more
sense than documented critical analysis, I suppose he is right.
Gunter accused me of "stumbl(ing) over the passage," but if
anyone has stumbled over it, he has. [ref014]Genesis 6:1 does not
say, "And it came to pass that when the offspring of Cain began to
multiply on the face of the ground and daughters were born to them,
etc." It says that "when men (people, NRSV) began to multiply
on the face of the ground and daughters were born to them...."
Gunter is doing a lot of stumbling to get only the offspring of Cain from
the word men in this verse. The truth is that the passage says nothing at
all about either Cain or Abel. Gunter's "explanation," as I
said, is purely arbitrary.
Gunter asserted that "the rebellion of the angels ([ref015]Jude 6) must be separated
from the sexual crimes of Sodom in [ref016]Jude 7," but why
must they be separated? Jude certainly didn't separate them. After
describing the fate of the rebellious angels in [ref017]verse 6, Jude said,
"Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in
the same manner as THEY, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued
unnatural lust, etc." ([ref018]v:7). Does Gunter know
what "in the same manner" means? Can't he see that the
antecedent of the pronoun they has to be the angels in verse 6? Jude was
obviously saying that the people of Sodom in indulging in sexual
immorality and pursuing unnatural lust had done in the same manner as
THEY, the rebellious angels just referred to. If not, why not?
That indulgence in sexual immorality was the sin of these fallen angels
was made very clear in 1 Enoch and the other apocryphal works cited in my
article. Gunter tried to dismiss the apocryphal references by a simple
assertion that the book of Enoch was "spurious," so he
apparently holds the book in considerably less esteem than did Jude who
both alluded to its judgment of fallen angels and quoted it directly:
"And to these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, PROPHESIED..."
(V:14). This introduced a direct quotation from 1 Enoch 1:9, and the way
that Jude quoted it (1) ascribed the authorship of the book to Enoch, the
seventh-generation descendant of Adam, who was translated directly to
heaven, and (2) attributed prophetic abilities to the author of the book.
Mr. Gunter cannot dismiss the impact of this by just crying,
"Spurious!" In the first place, if by "spurious" he
means "lacking authenticity," then 1 Enoch is no more spurious
than Genesis, because no reputable Bible scholar believes that Genesis was
actually written by Moses.
Whether 1 Enoch is "spurious" or not is beside the point. I
quoted the book and other apocryphal works simply to show that a legend
about the intermarriage of angels and human women was widely believed when
the book of Genesis was written. That fact and the striking parallel in
the wording of [ref019]Genesis 6:1 and 1
Enoch 6:1 must be dealt with. Gunter dealt with neither, and he didn't
because he can't. [ref020]Genesis 6:1-4 was
deeply rooted in mythology as were the creation, the flood, the tower of
Babel and most of the other sto- ries in the first eleven chapters of
Genesis. To deny this is to deny the obvious.
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