Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1-4 -- By: Meredith G. Kline

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 24:2 (May 1962)
Article: Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1-4
Author: Meredith G. Kline


Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1-4

Meredith G. Kline

I. Critique of Prevalent Interpretations

Genesis 6:1–4 is, according to the prevailing opinion of the day, a piece of raw mythology. In fact, the claim is repeatedly made that it is the most blatant instance of that sort of thing anywhere in the sacred canon. It is supposed to relate how certain divine beings, enticed by the beauty of earthly women, entered into unholy wedlock with them and so gave rise to a race of gigantic heroes of antiquity.1 The current fashion is to credit the editor responsible for incorporating the mythical fragment into the biblical narrative with the intention of using it simply as a symbolic vehicle to convey the sense of man’s demonic potentialities for good or evil on an heroic scale.2 But even this demythologizing old Israelite existentialist will have transmitted the primitive pagan tale startlingly undisguised.

The decisive difficulties, both exegetical and theological, which beset the interpretation of Gen 6:1–4 in terms of non-terrestrial beings have been presented long since and need not all be repeated here.3 Advocates of this divine, or demonic,

invasion view have themselves been most disturbed by the exclusive attention paid to “man” and to him as a creature of “flesh” in the verdict of God pronounced against the sin of “the sons of God” (vs. 3). The obvious awkwardness of this for the view that the chief offenders under judgment were non-human, incorporeal beings has encouraged doubts as to the propriety of the present location of verse 3. It has been conjectured, for example, that verse 4 ought to follow immediately upon verse 2; then the condemnation of “man” (vs. 3) might be related to the Nephilim-Gibborim (vs. 4), who were the at least half-human and quite corporeal offspring of “the sons of God”.4 But for all who are concerned with interpreting the meaning of the author of the narrative in its canonical form (and there is no objective evidence that the Masoretic text differs significantly from the original) it is apparent that the verdict of verse 3 refers primarily ...

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