"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)
|Volume Five, Number Two||Summer 1997|
In his zeal to deny the obvious, Jerry McDonald had a lot to say about "differences between Genesis 6:1-4 and 1 Enoch" (It's Not Necessarily A Duck," Challenge, Summer 1993, p.8). However, in my article that he was presumably trying to refute, I didn't say that there are "'striking similarities' between the Biblical account in Genesis 6:1-4 and the book of 1 Enoch" (emphasis added), as he had me saying; I said that "the similarity of Genesis 6:1 and 1 Enoch 6:1 is so striking that it cannot be lightly dismissed" ("If It Walks Like A Duck," Challenge, Summer 1993, p.3). My intention, then, was to show that the similarity between Genesis 6:1 and 1 Enoch 6:1 (not the whole book of 1 Enoch) are so striking that "it cannot be lightly dismissed." Of course, I exclude Jerry McDonald from the last statement, because he will lightly dismiss anything, no matter how obvious it is, if it conflicts with the Bible.
I see no need to argue with a signpost, so I am just going to let the textual evidence speak for itself by quoting both passages, along with a third "strikingly similar" text from another pseudepigraphic work. This should be sufficient for open minded readers to determine if I am right in saying that Genesis 6:1 is "strikingly similar" to 1 Enoch 6:1.
Genesis: 6:1-2, Now 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 beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose (NKJV).
1 Enoch 6:1-2, In those days, when the children of man had multiplied, it happened that there were born unto them handsome and beautiful daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, saw them and desired them; and they said one to another, Come, let us choose wives for ourselves from among the daughters of man and beget us children" (Isaac Translation).
Jubilees 5:1, And when the children of men began to multiply on the surface of the earth and daughters were born unto them, the angels of the LORD saw in a certain year of jubilee that they were good to look at. And they took wives for themselves from all those whom they chose (Wintermute Translation).
In McDonald's "rebuttal" of my article, he said that he could find "only one similarity" and that was that "(b)oth accounts mentioned giants" (p.8). Surely, he didn't look very hard if the mentioning of giants (referred to later on in both texts) was the only similarity he could see. What about "it coming to pass or happening when men or the children of men began to multiply"? That isn't a similarity? And what about daughters being born to these men who were multiplying? That isn't a similarity? And what about the "sons of God" or "angels" seeing that those daughters were beautiful? That isn't a similarity? And what about the "sons of God" or "angels" taking or choosing these daughters to be wives? That isn't a similarity The fact is that practically all expressions in all three texts are "strikingly parallel," and If Jerry McDonald doesn't see the striking similarities, it is because he doesn't want to see them. He doesn't want to see anything that will in any way damage his cherished belief that the Bible is the verbally inspired, inerrant word of his omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, bloodthirsty deity that he believes in.
McDonald said many things in his "rebuttal" that I could comment on, but rather than do that, I am simply going to compare Genesis 6:1-4 to pseudepigraphic texts that contain "striking parallels." In so doing, I will establish to the satisfaction of anyone whose mind hasn't been totally anesthetized by fundamentalist propaganda that Genesis 6:1-4 makes obvious allusions to an ancient myth about the intermarriage of angels and earthly women. As much as possible, I will try to keep Jerry McDonald out of the picture and let the biblical and pseudepigraphic texts speak for themselves.
I quoted above three separate passages from Hebrew literature. The first is a quotation from the book of Genesis, which Bible fundamentalists believe Moses wrote by verbal inspiration; the other two are from pseudepigraphic books, written by unknown Jewish authors purporting to be famous biblical characters. First Enoch presents itself as the work of Enoch, the seventh-generation descendant of Adam who was so righteous that God translated him to heaven (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5), but few contemporary Bible fundamentalists believe that Enoch actually wrote this book, although many first-century Christians did believe the book was authentic. As if he considered it an authentic work of Enoch, Jude (vv:14-15) quoted the ninth verse of chapter one and alluded to the fallen angels imprisoned beneath the earth (v:6) that Enoch wrote about in great detail. The author of Jubilees, whoever he was, also wrote extensively about fallen angels who had committed adultery with human women and thereby corrupted the whole world (chapters 4-5,8).
McDonald claims that Jude didn't quote 1 Enoch, which no one today seriously believes was written by the Old Testament character Enoch, but merely quoted what Enoch said. "There is no doubt," McDonald said, "that Enoch spoke what Jude attributes to him. However, the Holy Spirit told Jude what to write, and since he was there when Enoch spoke this, he had Jude write that Enoch prophesied it" (p.8). So we see the game that McDonald is playing. He has to say that Enoch said what Jude said that Enoch said, because to deny that Enoch said it would be to deny that the Bible is inerrant. However, if McDonald says that Jude 14-15 was a quotation of 1 Enoch 1:9, he puts himself in the embarrassing position of having to defend the inspiration of the whole book of 1 Enoch, which is so obviously mythological in places that even McDonald wouldn't dare try to deny it. So to dance around the problem, McDonald takes the position that Enoch made the statement in Jude 14-15 but that Jude didn't get the statement from the obviously forged book of 1 Enoch; he got it directly from the Holy Spirit, who "told Jude what to write." Well, there is a crass assumption if I ever saw one. How does McDonald know that the Holy Spirit told Jude what to write? What is his proof? Is his proof no more than the fact that the book called Jude is generally published in a collection of books whose "divine inspiration" was decided upon by a vote of Catholic churchmen? Wild, unsubstantiated assertions like these might go over well with the choir he is obviously preaching to in this paper of his that is read primarily by Church-of-Christ members, but how does he expect rational people who haven't been brainwashed by fundamentalist propaganda to accept unproven statements like this one? If his readers were mainly Islamic in their beliefs, would he expect them just to accept his unsupported assertion that the "Holy Spirit" told Jude what Enoch had said? The best way to judge whether Jude was quoting 1 Enoch is to look at these passages together:
Jude 14-15, Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints [holy ones, ASV], to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
1 Enoch 1:9, Behold, he [God] will arrive with ten million of the holy ones in order to execute judgment upon all. He will destroy the wicked ones and censure all flesh on account of everything that they have done, that which the sinners and the wicked ones committed against him, and of the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Who can read these two passages and argue with a straight face that one wasn't dependent on the other? There are variations of course, but not nearly as many variations as there are in other New Testament quotations of alleged prophecies. Matthew 2:6 differs substantially from Micah 5:2, but McDonald would never say that Matthew wasn't quoting Micah's alleged prophecy of the birth place of the Messiah. How then can he say that Jude was not quoting 1 Enoch 1:9?
If I understood him correctly, he was actually trying to argue that "1 Enoch was written somewhere between the 1st and the 3rd century probably by a Jew" (p.8). Did he mean between the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D.? If so, his dating disagrees with some very prestigious pseudepigraphic scholars. E. Issac, whose translation was used in James H. Charlesworth's collection of pseudepigrapha (2 volumes), stated in his introduction to 1 Enoch that some sections of the book are as old as the pre-Maccabean age, and he dated as "late pre-Christian" the introductory chapters from which Jude took the disputed quotation ("A New Translation and Introduction," The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, p.7).
The influence that 1 Enoch had on New Testament writers and the esteem that it enjoyed with the early church fathers clearly indicates that the book, or at least parts of it were written well before the 3rd century A.D. On this matter McDonald said that he had "checked all of [his] works on the subject" and could find nothing "where it [1 Enoch] was held in such high esteem by the early church fathers" (p.8). Oh, well, if McDonald couldn't find anything on this subject "in his works," then, of course, that can only mean one thing: I am wrong and the book enjoyed no popularity with the early church fathers.
McDonald obviously needs some help on this subject, so I suggest that he look somewhere outside of "his works" to see if he doesn't find scholars in general agreement with what Issac said about the influence of 1 Enoch on early Christianity:
1 Enoch reflects the historical events immediately preceding and following the Maccabean Revolt. More important, however, is the light it throws upon early Essene theology and upon earliest Christianity. It was used by the authors of Jubilees, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Assumption of Moses, 2. Baruch, and 4 Ezra. Some New Testament authors seem to have been acquainted with the work, and were influenced by it, including Jude, who quotes it explicitly (1:14f.). At any rate, it is clear that Enochic concepts are found in various New Testament books, including the Gospels and Revelation. (Ibid., p.8, emphasis added).
Later in the same context Isaac said this about the influence that 1 Enoch had on the early church fathers:
1 Enoch played a significant role in the early Church; it was used by the authors of the Epistle of Barnabas, the Apocalypse of Peter, and a number of apologetic works. Many church fathers, including Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, and Clement of Alexandria, either knew 1 Enoch or were inspired by it. Among those who were familiar with 1 Enoch, Tertullian had an exceptionally high regard for it.
Would "high regard" and "high esteem" be the same thing? I suggest that McDonald look beyond "his works" and do some serious research into what the recognized authorities like Charlesworth, Issac, and Wintermute say on the subject.
Such authorities as these recognize the influence that 1 Enoch had on early Christianity, and they most certainly recognize that Jude quoted 1 Enoch 1:9. Anyone who looks objectively at the subject will reach the same conclusion. In addition to the quotation from 1 Enoch, Jude also referred to a pseudepigraphic work known as the Assumption of Moses when he mentioned the dispute between the devil and the archangel Michael over the body of Moses (v:9). All of the evidence objectively considered clearly indicates that the writer of Jude was familiar with pseudepigraphic works. That fact certainly doesn't help McDonald's claim that Jude didn't quote 1 Enoch but only wrote what the Holy Spirit knew that Enoch had said.
The problem that 1 Enoch and Jubilees pose for believers in Bible inerrancy is the clarity with which they described the carnal relationships that angels in antediluvian times established with human women. The descriptions are so graphic and so frequent that no one can seriously deny that the writers of 1 Enoch and Jubilees believed that angels had at one time cohabited with earthly women and produced a race of giants as tall as 450 feet, and brought about the corruption of the world. The text in Genesis 6 that refers to this same myth is so brief that fundamentalists have been able to circumvent the problem it poses for the inerrancy doctrine by giving it an interpretation that excludes angels. The "sons of God" in Genesis 6 were not angels but simply the righteous descendants of Seth, inerrantists argue, or men who were in covenant relationship with God and then fell away through their sexual promiscuity or some such interpretation that would seem sensible to gullible pulpit audiences who know very little about pseudepigraphic literature or eve the Bible itself. However, when Genesis 6:1-2 is juxtaposed with 1 Enoch 6:1-2 and Jubilees 5:1 the similarities in the three texts are so obvious that honest, objective readers will admit that all three passages were referring to the same event. If the authors of the two pseudepigraphic works were describing a period of sexual activity between angels and human women, as the contexts from which the two quotations were taken will clearly show, then it is probably true that the Genesis writer was referring to the same thing.
Just by reading straight through the passages as I have presented them, without pausing to absorb meaning, one can see obvious similarities in the three texts. For thirty years, I have taught freshman writing at a community college, so I wouldn't even try to estimate how many times I have discovered plagiarism in the student essays I have read. Frequently, the discovery was made through similarity of expression that I found in different essays. Whenever this happened, I would know that two students working independently of each other had by chance gathered information from the same source. Without crediting their source, they would use the information as if it were their own, but in so doing they would retain enough of the original wording for a skilled reader to recognize that plagiarism had occurred. Students whom I catch doing this often express surprise that I was able to detect their plagiarism, but there is nothing at all mysterious about the way the discovery was made. It involved only a simple process of critical analysis.
If we apply the same process to the three texts I quoted at the beginning, we can easily determine that all three writers were relying on a common source, either written or oral. The opening statement in all three texts is essentially the same. Whereas the biblical texts says, "(W)hen men began to multiply on the face of the earth," the other two just say "children of men" rather than just "men," and one (1 Enoch) leaves off the reference to "the face (or surface) of the earth," and simply says that the "children of men had multiplied." Whoever or whatever the beings who married the "daughters of men" were, the Bible calls them "sons of God," whereas the other two texts more specifically identify them as "angels." One describes them as "angels, the children of heaven" (1 Enoch), and the other calls them "angels of the LORD" (Jubilees). In addition, the text from Jubilees contains the expression "in a certain year of the jubilee" that is not in the others. When these slight differences are removed, the reading of all three texts becomes essentially the same.
To illustrate the striking parallel in wording without these minor variations, I am going to substitute "sons of God" for "angels" and "men" for "children of men" in one of the pseudepigraphic texts and then juxtapose it with the passage in Genesis. I will ask the readers to lay their Bibles aside and then, without referring to them, try to identify the statement that is Genesis 6:1-2.
(W)hen men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
(W)hen men began to multiply on the surface of the earth and daughters were born unto them, the sons of God saw that they were good to look at. And they took wives for themselves from all of those whom they chose.
If you identified the first one as Genesis 6:1-2, you were right, and you apparently have a good eye for detail. Before we leave this point, I want you to look at the two texts again and then consider how slight the changes were that I made in Jubilees 5:1. I dropped off 1"children of" before men and "in a certain year of the jubilee" and then substituted "sons of God" for "angels of the LORD." And that's it! That is how close the wording is in both passages. I now urge you to obtain a copy of Jubilees, which you could probably get through interlibrary loan, and read the context in which the statement in Jubilees 5:1 was made. If you do this, you will see that the writer of Jubilees obviously believed that angels had married earthly women in antediluvian times and corrupted the whole world. You will see it so clearly that no fundamentalist preacher will be able to explain it away.
If this is not enough to convince you, perhaps another juxtaposition will help you see that the Genesis writer understood the marriages of the "sons of God" and the daughters of men to mean the same as did the pseudepigraphic writers, who thought that angels and earthly women married:
Gensis 6:1-8, 11-12: Now 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 beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whome they chose. And the LORD said, "My spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.... The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
Jubilees 5:1-5,8: And when the children of men began to multiply on the surface of the earth and daughters were born to them, the angels of the LORD saw in a certain year of the jubilee that they were good to look at. And they took wives for themselves from all those whom they chose. And they bore children unto them; and they were giants. And injustice increased upon the earth, and all flesh corrupted its way; man and cattle and beasts and birds and everything which walks on the earth. And they all corrupted their way and their ordinances, they began to eat one another. And injustice grew upon the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of all mankind was thus continually evil.
And the LORD saw the earth, and behold it was corrupted and all flesh had corrupted its order and all who were on the earth had done every sort of evil in his sight. And he said, "I will wipe out man and all flesh which I have created from upon the surface of the earth." But Noah alone found grace in the eyes of the LORD.... And he said, "My spirit shall not always dwell upon man forever; for they are flesh, and their days will be one hundred and ten years."
I have underlined certain expressions in the passage from Jubilees for obvious reasons. Each underlined statement has its parallel in the Genesis passage! The order of the statements is not always the same, but the substance is, and sometimes even the exact statement was made in the Genesis text. In fact, if one took only the underlined statements in Jubilees, substituted "sons of God" for angels, omitted the one reference to the jubilee, and rearranged some of the expressions, he could almost produce the Genesis text. This is how it would look:
And when the children of men began to multiply on the surface of the earth and daughters were born unto them, the sons of God saw that they were good to look at. And they took wives for themselves from all of those whom they chose. And [the LORD] said, "My spirit will not dwell upon man forever; for they are flesh, and their days will be one hundred and ten years." And they bore children to them; and they were giants.
And the LORD saw the earth, and behold it was corrupted and all flesh had corrupted its order and all who were on the earth had done every sort of evil in his sight. And injustice grew upon the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of all mankind was thus continually evil. And he said, "I will wipe out man and all flesh which I have created from upon the surface of the earth." But Noah alone found favor in the sight of the LORD.... And injustice increased upon the earth, and all flesh corrupted its way; man and cattle and beasts and birds and everything which walks on the earth. And they all corrupted their way....
This rearranged version contains everything that is in the Genesis passage except for verses 4a and 6, where it was said, respectively, "There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the son of God came in to the daughters of men," and "the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." Anyone who can look at this rearrangement and deny that the writers of Genesis and Jubilees relied on common sources probably doesn't want to know the truth.
As the readers will notice by referring to the left hand column, the passage from Jubilees 5, from which I re-created the Genesis 6 narrative, omitted a part where the ellipsis [...] was inserted. The two verses that were skipped clearly indicate that the writer of Jubilees, like the writer of 1 Enoch, believed that God had condemned angels who had consorted with human women to be imprisoned under the earth to await judgment: "And against his [the LORD's] angels whom he had sent to the earth he was very angry. He commanded that they be uprooted from all their dominion. And he told us to bind them in the depths of the earth, and behold, they are bound in the midst of them, and they are isolated. And against their children a word went forth from before his presence so that he might smite them with the sword and remove them from under heaven" (Jubilees 5:6,7). If the readers will return momentarily to the re-created passage in the middle column of this page and insert these two verses at the ellipsis (second paragraph), he will have, in addition to the re-created Genesis passage, an expansion of the text that provides more details about the myth or legend that the Genesis writer was alluding to in 5:1-12. Everything in the two texts (Genesis and Jubilees) is remarkably parallel except for these two verses in Jubilees that the Genesis account did not include. The additional verses leave no room for doubt what the author of Jubilees thought that these "sons of God" were. Like "Enoch," he clearly believed that they were fallen angels and that Yahweh had ordered them to be imprisoned under the earth to await judgment. In the face of these facts, it is remarkable that Bible fundamentalists will stubbornly deny that the Genesis writer was alluding to the fallen-angel myth that figures so prominently in pseudepigraphic literature.
Since scholars generally agree that Jubilees was written around 100 BC, inerrantists may ask why it would not have been possible that Genesis was the source of this section of Jubilees. In other words, it might be that someone with a wild imagination lifted certain expressions from Genesis and wove around them a fanciful yarn about angels and earthly women. Such is possible, of course, but then what do we say about the book of 1 Enoch, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Qumran MS4? They all contain narrative passages concerning a myth about the unnatural marriages of angels and human women that corrupted the earth and caused God to destroy it with a great flood. Are we to assume that the writers of all these works all had wild imaginations that they used to turn the Genesis flood into a fanciful tale about the marriages of angels and earthly women? Let's put this speculation to the cutting edge of Occam's razor. Which is more likely, that different writers working independently plagiarized a fragment of Genesis and turned it into an imaginative story of angels and women marrying or that different writers working independently wove their stories around a widely circulated myth about antediluvian marriages of angels and women? To ask the question is to answer it.
True biblical scholars abandoned the myth of verbal inspiration long ago. They did so because their studies of Mid-Eastern cultures that were contemporary to the Hebrews of Bible times had destroyed the fanciful notion that the Bible was a revelation from God. They discovered that there was nothing at all "special" about it. It was based on the same myths that had circulated in the Sumarian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Canaanite, Persian, Egyptian, and Greek cultures that had surrounded the Hebrews. In fact, we now know that there was even very little originality in the Hebrew myths. They had borrowed them from neighboring cultures and adapted them to their society. The most obvious examples of this adaptation can be found in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. The creation, the garden of Eden, the flood, the tower of Babel-- these myths had all originated in neighboring cultures.
And so did the Genesis 6 myth about the "sons of God" (angels) who married earthly women and made the world so corrupt that God destroyed it with a great flood. Inerrantists like McDonald will pooh-pooh everything I have said in this analysis, because they know that their inerrancy doctrine will collapse if it can be proven that at least part of the Bible is based on mythology. I believe that I have establised that Genesis 6:1-2 alludes to an ancient myth that was still believed by some when the Bible was written. All I ask of you, the reader, is a fair hearing. Weigh up everything I have said and do the follow-up studies I have suggested, and I'm sure you will agree that elements of mythology can be found in the Bible text.
CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.