The Sons Of God In Genesis 6:1-4: (An Example of Evangelical Demythologization?) -- By: Willem A. Vangemeren

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 43:2 (Spring 1981)
Article: The Sons Of God In Genesis 6:1-4: (An Example of Evangelical Demythologization?)
Author: Willem A. Vangemeren


The Sons Of God In Genesis 6:1-4:
(An Example of Evangelical Demythologization?)*

Willem A. VanGemeren

Introduction

Why does the theology in which creation, miracles, the miraculous birth and resurrection of Jesus have a place, prefer a rational explanation of Genesis 6:1–4? Evangelical writers proffer, instead of the angelic/demonic intermarriage view, the view that the Sons of God are the Sethites and the daughters of man are descendants of the line of Cain or variations of the intermarriage of two classes of human beings. Why do evangelicals prefer the view of the intermarriage of humans, in whatever variety it may be found? This question is more difficult to answer. What concerns me is a seeming inconsistency. Normally, the goal of interpretation has been the elucidation of the Word of God so the community of faith may know what to believe and what to do. When, however, the object of interpretation becomes the removal of apparent obstacles to which the passage may give rise, reinterpretation is introduced, and one may wonder how this differs from demythologization. It is granted that it is hard to imagine how preternatural (angelic, supernatural, demonic) beings have sexual relations with women of the human race and father offspring. But is the difficulty so great that it must be removed as something offensive? Is it possible that theology has taken the place of exegesis?1 Or has

* This study is a revised form of a lecture given under the auspices of the Harry A. Worcester Lectureship and Publication Fund at Westminster Theological Seminary, February 24, 1976. The author has benefited from a recent discussion of the paper in revised form with Dr. Meredith G. Kline.

a philosophical theology explained away the difficulties of Genesis 6:1–4?

The problem is intensified by the seeming simplicity of the explanation. A careful consideration of the linguistic and conceptual data present the exegete of Genesis 6:1–4 with significant problems. The question arises how one of the admittedly most difficult passages in the Hebrew Old Testament is given such a simple, natural explanation as if there were more significant issues elsewhere.

The passage is one of the most difficult pieces of Old Testament literature, in that it has many problems.2 First, is the passage a prologue, and if it is, how is it related to the Flood narrative? Second, several words contain difficulties which have been treated in articles...

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