Oh, do I have an “exciting” treat for all of you. I have a copy of “reformed Baptist” pastor Douglas Van Dorn’s 2013 book Giants: Sons of the Gods, which promises to teach you how viewing Christianity through the lens of the Nephilim can bring you closer to the true teachings of Jesus. As a text that explicitly seeks to explicate the connection between gigantology and fundamentalist Christian revival, I can’t wait to see how a Christian extremist spins the Nephilim into a reason to accept a conservative view of Jesus.
But before we begin, I can’t help but start with this endorsement of the book from 1970s-era NFL linebacker Tom Graham, which is just about perfect: “What do Buffalo Bill Cody and Katy Perry/Kanye West have in common? They talk and sing about ‘giants’ and ‘aliens.’ Maybe they referenced these subjects in ignorance, but now Doug Van Dorn has revealed the light of Biblical Truth on these matters in his book GIANTS: Sons of the Gods.” I think I shall never see so delightful an endorsement again.
Preface and Introduction
The book gets off to a traditional start for a fringe book, with the author piously paying obeisance not to God or the Bible but to In Search of…, a program Van Dorn says was highly influential in his youth. (The show aired from 1977 to 1982, when Van Dorn was 7 to 12 years old.) However, as he grew in age and in faith he came to see the paranormal as threatening the public understanding Christianity, which by miraculous coincidence was intimately tied to the “chilling” story of the Nephilim, which he sees as inextricable from the thrust of religious history and every part of the Old and New Testaments. In fact, he says that the Nephilim have a “dark” and “frightening” influence on humanity to this very day. However, despite the dark picture he paints of the Nephilim’s evil influence, he also says he finds them “fun” and hopes the reader will share in his “enthusiasm” for giants. How he reconciles that contradiction I can only imagine, but I suppose it falls under the same category as the pious Christians who fantasize about the “fun” they will have watching sinners burn in hell as their afterlife entertainment (Tertullian, De Spectaculis 30; Augustine, City of God 20.22; Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, supplement to Part 3, 94.1; etc.)
In order to understand the Nephilim, Van Dorn first tries to offer a definition, and it is a little complicated. To start, he dismisses the notion that the Nephilim are merely “giants” in a physical sense, arguing (rightly) that if this were so then the NBA would render the Bible moot. Instead, he argues that the giants are more than giants, that they are demonic and evil, and he identifies them with all of the pagan gods of the Bible. He supports this with an incorrect citation to Exodus, by which he means Deuteronomy 32:17, in which the Israelites sacrificed to demons called “gods that recently appeared.”
To come to this conclusion he reviews the history of the interpretation of Genesis 6:4, starting with the ancient idea that it refers to the mating of fallen angels and human women and proceeding to the later view that it involved the tribes of Seth and Cain under euphemisms for their relative sanctity. He explains the Church leaders who follow the latter view but explains that they are wrong because they base their interpretations on Jewish views that emerged after Jesus and therefore are wrong because the Jews rejected Jesus and the Truth. (This is also funny because Martin Luther, in his commentary on Genesis 6:2 similarly attributed the angelic version to the “silly ideas of the Jews”!) The long and short of a complex theological argument is that Van Dorn takes the angelic position because it is ensconced in scripture as the belief of Peter (2 Peter 2:4-5) and Jude (1:6). He goes on to defend his view for about 15% of the book. I won’t belabor this since it is, to my mind, the correct interpretation of what the ancients believed, though this doesn’t necessarily make it true. I will note that he stops partway through to tell us that dinosaurs were genetic hybrids of birds and reptiles and so were abominations to the Lord, like the Giants, and therefore had to be destroyed by the Flood.
Finally, about 15% of the way into the book, we hit Chapter 1. In it Van Dorn tells us that “What many people fail to notice in all this is how a main earthly antagonist throughout this OT war are the giants, or people in some way related to them, either through marriage or cultural assimilation (like victims of the Borg in Star Trek).” He argues that the entire Bible can be understood from Genesis 3:15 (on the offspring of Eve and the offspring of the Serpent) as the story of two Seeds—the Seed of God (the human race and Jesus) and the Seed of the Serpent, the Giants, who are born of Satan’s angels and human women. Thus, for Van Dorn, the fact that the Greeks depicted the gigantes as serpent-footed proves that the Giants were Satanic.
Van Dorn reviews the descriptions of the Giants in the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, and other apocryphal texts and Jewish literature. He stops to tell us that because Giants were cannibals and demonic, they are related to vampires, which are similarly demonic and feast on blood. He shades into ancient astronaut type speculation when he suggests that this apocryphal literature could make reference to genetic engineering, or that entwined serpents symbolized the DNA double helix.
Van Dorn begins this chapter with a brief account of the Flood followed by his belief that Noah cursed Canaan because Ham had committed incest with his mother, Noah’s wife. The next section tries to argue that Nimrod wasn’t just mighty but actually a giant, and that more angels fell from grace after the Flood and immediately started have sex with every earth woman they could lay their hands on, thus fathering Nimrod. This seems like a rather overelaborate way to get around the patchwork nature of the Flood story and the fact that the “end of all flesh” didn’t really change anything if we read the text literally, since the same Nephilim are still there afterward, something secular scholars often attribute to editing issues.
Van Dorn plays some etymology games that only proves that some people at certain times took a Nephilim-centric view of the Bible, and he then quotes the alleged “Arabic manuscript found at Baalbek” that I discussed the other day in order to prove that Nimrod was always tied to Giants. It always amazes me how uninterested people who want to change the world are in details. Van Dorn quotes the English version but isn’t aware of its errors in translating from the French, the first published version of whatever this text supposedly is.
He next tries to connect the Tower of Babel to the Giants, first biblically: The people of Babel want to “make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4), which he identifies with the Nephilim, the “men of renown,” literally “men of the name” (Genesis 6:4). He then tries to connect this extra-biblically with passages from Pseudo-Eupolemus and the Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles that I discussed last week. To this he adds a Mexican version widely believed to be a Mexican adaptation of the Babel story after the Conquest but which he takes for independent. He claims to quote Hugh Bancroft’s 1883 translation, but he is actually quoting Elwood Worcester’s The Book of Genesis in the Light of Modern Knowledge, as shown by his confusion of Worcester’s introductory phrasing for Bancroft’s. Fringe writers don’t put much truck in checking sources. Similarly, he accepts the Orion Correlation Theory of Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock’s even more tenuous Draco Correlation Theory of Angkor to “prove” that the Babel story was about trying to connect earth and heaven to… wait for it… make contact with the Watchers!
Since the opening chapters were so heavy on claims and explication, I’d like to try to burn through some of the rest of the book a bit faster. This chapter discusses later events in Genesis with giants that are explicit in the text and those Van Dorn finds in it by using medieval Jewish literature and etymology. He, for example, connects the name of Sumer (Shinar) to the word for “tooth” and claims that this reflects the “double rows of teeth” imagined for giant skeletons. Thus, for him, Sodom was a city where giants lived, giants who wanted to reenact Genesis 6:4 by raping angels.
This chapter continues to probe Genesis for more presumed giants by making a gossamer web of connections—this time between Abimelech, Philistines, Egypt, and giants. The Philistines and Egyptians, Van Dorn says, employed giants as mercenaries. In essence, any reference to a tall person in the Bible, or to a giant in medieval Jewish legend, becomes evidence of the survival of angel-human hybrids.
This chapter pissed me off because in discussing the further adventures of the Giants in the Bible Van Dorn lifted my translation of my second excerpt of Book 1, Chapter 10 of Al-Maqrizi’s Al-Khitat verbatim from my website and passed it off as having been done by Google Translate in his notes. I ran the French text through Google Translate to make sure that this wasn’t the case, but the Google results, while quite similar to my own (since I mostly translated literally from the French, as does Google), are not Van Dorn’s. Van Dorn uses specific phrasing from my translation that is not found in Google’s text. For example, the final sentence Van Dorn quotes reads this way in our three translations:
Here Van Dorn even repeats my translating this sentence a bit less than literally. (There’s a bit of ambiguity in the French.) He also repeats my partial transliteration of the Francophone spelling of Arabic names as I gave them in 2013, but which I have since corrected.
Van Dorn is dishonest, and it is upsetting to have my work stolen.
This chapter discusses the appearance of the Nephilim in the Book of Numbers.
This chapter is about the perverted “lifestyle” of giants. In it we learn that the giants were worshipped as gods, and since they are the pagan gods, the perversions of the pagans are therefore the lifestyle of the giants. This includes child sacrifice, homosexuality (of course), incest, bestiality, sorcery, necromancy, and… wait for it… discrimination against the poor and the working class through unfair wages, slander, and hate! You see, only the Bible provides social justice for all, whereas pagans had social classes filled with discrimination and hate. In the Bible, God only hates gay cannibal giants.
In this chapter, Van Dorn uses nineteenth century archaeological reports by Archibald Sayce to claim that the Egyptians knew that the Amorites were red-haired Aryan giants. This is based on relief carvings Sayce interpreted in 1888. This leads Van Dorn to connect this tribe to the various red-haired giants with elongated skulls from fringe literature. Returning to the claim that giants are serpentine, he then connects the serpentine creek at Bashan, home to the “giant” Og, to the Serpent Mound in Ohio and the imaginary Serpent Mound in Scotland that he doesn’t realize is a figment of the Victorian imagination. He then does the same thing with circle shapes and other ancient sites.
Chapters 9, 10, and 11
At this point, who really cares what he has left to say? He’s going through Bible giants one by one, now focusing on Og and Goliath, whom he illustrates with what look a lot like pirated images of the Incredible Hulk and the Jolly Green Giant. Agag is also discussed. The long and short of it is that he uses Goliath to explain that despite being 6’9” (in the Septuagint and Josephus) he is nevertheless a giant not because of his height but because of his descent from demonic gay cannibals.
Here Van Dorn wants to distinguish between demons and fallen angels. Fallen angels are Satan’s companions, chained under the earth, but demons are the spirits of dead giants, allowed to walk free and do mischief. This is how early Christians and their Jewish contemporaries thought, so there is nothing controversial here.
He tries to prove that animal-human hybrids and cross-species animal hybrids were real and the result of the Giants’ genetic engineering. He illustrates this with the so-called Montauk Monster, a raccoon that he claims is a genetic hybrid.
Now we hit the book’s climax: JESUS! Remember how Van Dorn argued that demons were actually the spirits of dead giants? Well, now he tells us that whenever Jesus battled demons in the Gospels, he was really at war with the ghosts of the Giants! He then claims that when Jesus said he would build his church “upon this rock” he was referring to the Fallen Angels’ home at Mt. Hermon, alongside Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus spoke those words (Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-38).
This covers New Testament allusions to fallen angels and giants, along with excursions into typical fringe claims: The Celts are red-haired giants and also America’s Mound Builders, according to Van Dorn. He concludes that Jesus’ great message was that He had come to vanquish the demon-Giants forever. Despite this, somehow these demon-Giants are still around, and Van Dorn tells us that it is a shame that most people today “don’t take very seriously at all that there is an authentic spiritual war being waged for each of our souls by extremely powerful and intelligent creatures in heavenly places.” Only by seeking out the Giants can we come to understand the power of demons and thus the counterbalancing mercy and grace of God.
The bottom line: Giants = Demons, so, if Giants existed then demons existed and God is consequently real, so you are guaranteed a spot in heaven if you embrace gigantology and live your life in fear of eternal damnation.
The book concludes with appendices that defend the use of 1 Enoch to explicate scripture and collect gigantology’s greatest hits, including the red-haired cannibal giants of (semi-fictitious) Native American lore, Russian TV reports about giant bones, and nineteenth century newspaper accounts of giants. Van Dorn doesn’t believe all of this uncritically, but he thinks that more of the reports are true than false.
Well, this was disappointing. I didn’t expect such a long explication of the Bible, and in the end Van Dorn didn’t really tell us anything about the reality of giants, only how certain ancient (and modern) people read Biblical texts as having a lot more giants than other people see in them.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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