A self-proclaimed member of the “Christian community,” Doug Woodward, author of a book on the coming threat of the Antichrist to America, has challenged my recent discussion of the Nephilim and the ancient astronaut theory, particularly as presented by L.A. Marzulli. Before reading Wooward’s discussion, it’s probably a good idea to review my original blog post, which examined Marzulli’s upset and outrage at Ancient Aliens’ recent episode arguing that Satan was a cosmic defender of humanity against nefarious aliens masquerading as Yahweh.
The crux of Woodward’s claim is that I am insufficiently deferential to biblical infallibility, which is not a critique so much as a philosophy. Woodward maintains that the Nephilim are real angel-human hybrids who continue to pose a threat to humanity today. On the other hand, he views me as “pseudo-sophisticated” and says I am employing distortions and falsehoods to deny these creatures’ existence. He also makes a very serious legal claim that I committed “defamation” in my remarks about Marzulli by suggesting that his views were not intellectually sound.
Before we begin, let me note that Woodward is especially angry that I called the Nephilim demons when, in his view, fallen angels and demons are two very different categories. But that’s the problem: Marzulli (and his defender, Woodward) wants us to use 1 Enoch and Jubilees, two apocryphal texts, to better understand the Nephilim, and in those two books, the authors make very plain that demons originate in the ghosts of the Watchers’ (Fallen Angels’) children (1 Enoch 15:11, Jubilees 10:4, etc.). Therefore, I didn’t think it a stretch to apply an infernal adjective to their sinning fathers.
Woodward begins by quoting Genesis 6:1-4, that infamous passage in which the redactors of Genesis state that there were giants (Nephilim) on the earth before the Flood and these giants were the offspring of the “sons of God” and human women and were remembered as the mighty heroes of legend. Right away, Woodward and I differ in opinion in that he believes that the Bible is infallible so therefore the giants existed, whereas I view Genesis like any other ancient text and therefore do not assume its claims are literally true just because it was so written.
Woodward next states that he believes that I am too self-confident in my theology and biblical studies. By contrast, my published work clearly states that I am no theologian and that I am frankly not particularly well-versed in the apocryphal texts like Jubilees, etc.
But Colavito’s challenge is worthy to address because it personifies a growing sentiment amongst those who challenge Marzulli’s teaching about the Nephilim (a teaching hardly unique to LA). Therefore, Colavito’s shots at LA are really shots at the whole community of teachers (myself included) who contend what we teach about the Nephilim is the correct biblical position – that the Nephilim were hybrid humanoids that infected humankind before the flood of Noah. In other words, when asserting this doctrine, LA hardly stands alone.
I, frankly, am not quite sure what I am supposedly denying. One can hardly deny that Genesis states that sons of God mated with human women and produced giants. Regardless of whether you think this actually happened in real life, it is what the text states. The trouble seems to descend on the “infected” part, which is not found in the Hebrew Bible, or the New Testament, and as an innovation of this alleged community of Nephilim-studies teachers.
The first problem is who the Nephilim were. The Genesis text is a bit ambiguous on this point:
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
Woodward asserts that the Nephilim are the sons of God from the second half of the first sentence, though he does admit that this is an interpretation. Most biblical commentators and explicators, however, read the Nephilim (or giants) as the children of the sons of God (who after all already have a name), including Aquila, Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Luther, Calvin, Kurtz, Keil, and Murphy, as the Pulpit Commentary asserts. However, Gill’s Exposition by contrast asserts that the order of events implies that the giants (the Nephilim) preexisted the mating of fallen angels and human women and therefore were related to neither. Jewish scholars assert, in yet a third opinion, that there are no supernatural creatures here at all; instead, the “sons of God” were the children of Seth, while the daughters of men were the women descended from sinful Cain; therefore, their mixed union produced violent, marauding thugs. These being but three schools of thought on the meaning of this passage, from unimpeachable sources: actual believers in the truth of the Bible. The fundamentalist reading is neither the only acceptable reading, nor even the majority reading.
Wooward, however, asserts that the angels did in fact inject DNA into the human genome through their mixed mating with human women. Not being a biblical scholar, I still feel confident that the Hebrew Bible mentions nothing about DNA, nor does it assert that the sons of God are carbon-based life forms composed of cells governed by proteins. In fact, it would be something of a shock to find that aliens are made of cells and DNA since that would mean they had physical substance and yet leave no physical trace behind.
However, Woodward states that he believes I am advocating Manichaeism because I supposedly say that “any true god must have both an evil and a good side (‘aspect’) in order to be an enlightened being… which is a Luciferic premise shared with most New Age thinking.” Sorry, but I don’t advocate Manichaeism, or any other theism (or non-theism for that matter), nor am I overly concerned with the problem of evil. I’m pretty sure I’ve said more than once that “good” and “evil” are human concepts, not universal concepts; their meaning changes across cultures and through time. Is that relativism? Then it is relativism. Woodward distinguishes between Luciferianism and “true” Satanism in order to excuse ancient astronaut theorists from embracing “evil.”
He also wants to clarify exactly how angel DNA worked its way into the human genome:
Actually, Nephilim theorists, if I may call our group by this awkward label, argue that sin is carried through the male “Y” chromosome, not the bloodline per se, certainly not a post-Jesus bloodline. That is why a woman can provide a 100% sin free egg – but the gamete becomes infected via the male seed.
So, what part of my summary saying that Marzulli asserts sin is a biological product of semen is wrong? I admit that I failed to understand that only men can be semi-divine Nephilim carriers, but I’m not sure that locating sin on a specific chromosome really makes their case stronger. What exactly is the sequence of nucleotides for sin? But who could deny this obvious truth? As Enoch says, “The whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin” (1 Enoch 10:8). Oops… we’re supposed to believe that sin is genetic, not taught.
At this point Woodward simply departs from anything resembling mainstream Christianity and instead advocates a wild new idea that the Holy Spirit brought “male seed” to artificially inseminate Mary to produce Jesus. Woodward also denies that the two genealogies of Jesus given in the New Testament (Matthew 1 and Luke 3) contradict each other, which is fine I guess since he subscribes to the idea that Luke’s genealogy traces Jesus’ descent through Mary (as I indicated in my blog post), but it does contradict the concept of literalism since the text of Luke explicitly states that Jesus was “the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, which was the son of Matthat…” back and back to Adam. The literal reading gives only the male line. Woodward prefers “biblical infallibility” to textual literalism and therefore has no trouble revising troublesome passages to meet his assumptions.
This is made plain when he complains about my expression of confusion of how the DNA of the Nephilim persisted after the Flood: “There are many things that are not covered in Genesis. The Bible doesn’t intend to provide all information about everything.” Great! So, you’re free to make up anything you want so long as it isn’t explicitly contradicted by a passage in Genesis. Awesome. Woodward thinks Ham or his son Canaan was a carrier of sinful DNA, which is rather troublesome given that fundamentalists also think that after the Flood Ham was the father of the world’s black African people and Canaan of the Palestinians, who are therefore born evil, unlike the white people of Europe and America, who are conveniently less tainted. I have no idea how one can claim that Canaan or Ham had the Y chromosome but not Noah or the other sons of Noah since Y chromosomes are passed only from father to son. Apparently Nephilim chromosomes are sneaky.
In my post, I noted that apocalyptic Judaism begins the process of creating a personified figure of evil, later known as Satan or the Devil, information I got from several books by Biblical scholars on the origin of the Devil. Woodward rejects the idea that Biblical books and the apocryphal literature were composed at varying and relatively recent dates, and he wishes to revise most of them back several centuries. He claims that Satan in the Book of Job is the personification of evil and therefore disproves my idea since Job is so old a book. But as most biblical scholars recognize, the Satan of Job is not evil (or even the Devil as we have him today) but merely an angel doing the work of challenge that God created him to do.
Woodward next claims that I am purposefully inaccurate about distinguishing between the Watchers and the giants in order to belittle believers—which is ridiculous since Enoch isn’t canonical outside of Ethiopia and therefore isn’t part of most fundamentalists’ beliefs. In Enoch, God orders the Flood to “destroy…the children of the Watchers,” and I said that this suggested God was no longer ascribing sin to human actions as in Genesis 6 but rather was upset at the Fallen Angels for creating sin. Woodward decides to read my sentence in the most literal way to suggest that I don’t see that the Watchers are not their own children. But in Enoch and Jubilees God is punishing the Watchers with eternal bondage and torment while letting their children’s souls run free. The divine wrath is obviously falling on the fathers, not the sons.
But all of this is beside the point because Woodward’s major problem is that I accept that the Biblical texts were written by more than one person and were edited and changed through time. (Woodward assumes I subscribe to the 20th century idea of the four source texts, though recent scholarship prefers a different pattern of contribution and revision.) On the other hand, he sees Genesis especially as an infallible record that came down to us from the dawn of time. Woodward is angry at what he rightly calls my “naturalism” and failure to assume the existence of Biblical texts at period when they cannot be proved to have existed.
There isn’t much of a way to argue about that. Woodward and Marzulli have their own, self-created brand of Christianity that literalizes the supernatural as physical DNA and, assuming their beliefs key to interpreting an infallible text, erected a circular, self-reinforcing belief system where the conclusion of any line of inquiry serves only to prove the assumptions arrived at through hope and faith.
Let’s just finish with a final thought from Woodward on why the Nephilim are real:
Extensive archeological evidence is piling up in the Americas, including LA’s recent work in Peru, of giants’ bones and malformed skulls, fossils buried amidst Neolithic and early modern artifacts (such as massive copper coats of armor) – such discoveries shaking up the standard model of humankind’s history, much to the chagrin of the Smithsonian Institute.
So here we go again: skull binding, fossil megafauna bones, alleged nefarious Smithsonian conspiracies; all material we have encountered time and again. And why are we back to giants when his whole argument was that the Nephilim were synonymous with the Sons of God because Nephilim meant “fallen”? Where did these giants even come from? Oh, right: The apocryphal literature, which said that the giants’ ghosts haunt us, not their DNA. It makes my head hurt. (Oh, there’s that sarcasm he criticized again.)
What is “Neolithic” in an American context? European periods aren’t the same as those in America. I assume he means Paleoindian, but perhaps Archaic? So where are these “massive copper coats of armor”? I assume—but do not know since he gives citations only to other Biblical giant websites and authors—he’s referring to the 1832 discovery of a skeleton in Fall River, Massachusetts found wearing a copper breastplate, inspiring Longfellow’s poem “The Skeleton in Armor.” At least one other copper breastplate has been found, and it is believed that they were used in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, inspired by European armor and made, apparently, from European brass kettles used as trade goods.
There is no point in trying to argue with Woodward; his conclusions were inherent in his assumed premise. As Stephen Colbert put it in a different context, “The facts may change, but my opinion never will.” And that opinion is that Y chromosomes have evil angel DNA.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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