A couple years ago I wrote a note about the reality of the spiritual realm and that it was far more diverse than we tend to assume in modern western Christianity. Judaism and Eastern Christianity, in their mystical traditions, share an understanding of this diversity. What is often ascribed to superstition is simply what others have overlooked. Not always, of course, but frequently this is so. I’m not going to argue for the inspiration or inerrancy of the texts – I am assuming that to be the case. Instead, I’m going to make a case for some deeper issues that are rarely, if ever, mentioned.
To begin with, I think the only sensible and honest view of the text in Genesis 6 is that there is a real interchange between the bene Elohim, the sons of God, and the daughters of men. The traditional Augustinian idea of the ‘godly line of Seth’ is the least coherent and most textually odd. Nowhere in the OT is bene Elohim used of men and there is no reason to assume ‘giants’ means anything other than giants. Further, later books like Deut., Numbers (13:33) and Joshua (12:4, 17:15) make it clear that descendants of these half-breeds continue somehow even after the flood. We are told in Deut. 3:18 that Og king of Bashan’s bed was the equivalent of about 20 feet. Goliath is said to be a descendant of these giants, too. Thus, the Rephiam and Nephilim somehow continued to be ‘produced’ even after the flood. It’s more likely that the angel/god/entities were able to continue to do this somehow after the flood than that half-breeds somehow survived the flood. Further, this matches up perfectly with the ancient myths of the Titans.
Now the gods could be these half-breeds. The Book of Enoch, which I am assuming readers and debaters will have read, seems to say that the giants are imprisoned. (If you haven’t read the Book of Enoch please don’t get on here and pontificate about it.) This could the imprisoned spirits St. Peter mentions, too, and interestingly, St. Peter calls their abode ‘Tartauros’ – the Greek abode of Hades and the dead. By the way – Scripture also confirms that Hades is an angel/god – Apoc. 20:13. Angelic rulers are often spoken of as ‘gates’ in Scripture (Ps. 24, Mt. 16:18-19), which may have reference the angelic toll-house gates. The angels are also connected to stars and called stars in many places in Scripture (e.g., Apoc. 9:12, Ps. 147:4). It seems reasonable to me that many of the gods are half breeds with ‘powers’ but not necessarily all, since, as we will see, it appears YHWH/God appoints them to rule over the nations.
The material in the Book of Enoch also matches up to what we find in Daniel. As I wrote in my earlier article:
“But since Scripture and Tradition are quite clear that there are also fallen angelic beings that come from the original hierarchy, we can deduce that the ranks mentioned several times by St. Paul also have their “regional” powers. We learn this from St. Daniel, where St. Gabriel the Archangel visits in answer to prayer with news concerning the “princes” of Greece and Persia (9:21, 10:13-20) with whom Gabriel battled, needing the assistance of St. Michael (verse 20). Clearly no mere human being could withstand the might of an Archangel, but we mustn’t exclude the notion of a human factor to the appellation “prince.” Furthermore, St. Michael is called “prince” with the same Hebrew word (sar) as the “princes” of Greece and Persia, and undoubtedly Michael is no mere human prince.
What we find is what we find elsewhere in Scripture and Tradition, that both are being spoken of: the angelic entity, along with the human being under its relative dominion. This is evidenced elsewhere in Scripture, for example, in the lengthy description of Lucifer’s fall from Eden and the fall of the King of Tyre and Sidon (Ez. 28). There we see some texts applying primarily to Lucifer and others to the King of Tyre. We are also told in Daniel 4:17 that the sentence against Nebuchadneezer’s pride was by the “decree of the watchers,” who are clearly identified in chapter 10 as the Archangels, showing us that they rule human affairs as secondary agents under God and by His sovereign decree. So says David in Ps. 103:20-22, where the idea is the same as in Daniel. What’s the point? All of this is still true today, literally true, and modern, doubtful “scholars” are flat out wrong. In this they echo Nebuchadneezer in thinking they rule, and not God and His hosts.
So we see the Old Testament giving us clues concerning the angelic hierarchies that the New Testament expands upon, yet still leaves largely veiled. One thinks also of the facts derived from the Deuterocanonical Tobit, where St. Raphael defeats the demon that plagued Sarah. Thus, the “princes” mentioned are the equivalent of the “principalities” of St. Paul.”
So we know there was a war in heaven and we know that 1/3 of the angels fell with Lucifer and that they sorta did what they listed and intermarried with human chicks because they were bodacious babes. Allow me to continue a bit more on the archons:
“The word rendered here “principality”—arche in Gr.—means perperly, the beginning, and then the first place power, dominion, pre-eminence, magistrate, etc. It may refer to any rank and power, whether among men or angels, and the sense is that Christ is exalted above all….in “the world that is to come,” as well as this world, it is clear that there is a reference to the angelic ranks and probably means to allude to the prevailing opinion among the Jews that the angels are of different orders. Some of the Jewish Rabbis reckon four, some ten and presume to give names…The Scripture hint in several places at a difference of rank, but the writers do not go into much detail. (Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament, pg. 33).
If they are arche, they are not mere human agents, though again they are not excluded, since as non-believers, they are under the dominion of the devil (Acts 26:18). St. Paul is even clearer in Ephesians 6:12 when he writes “for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.” It’s amazing that many conservative scholars will refuse to admit the other similar Pauline texts as referring to fallen angelic orders when he explains here what he means by using these terms. N.T. Wright states:
As to their referent, in our modern age it has often been taken for granted that Paul’s language about supernatural power-structures needs to be demythologized, to be turned into language about, say, international power politics or economic ‘structures.’ This is quite legitimate, since for Paul, spiritual and earthly rulers were not sharply distinguished. In his view, earthly rulers held authority (in the sense intended by Jn. 19:11, Rom. 13:1-7) only as a trust from the Creator. At the same time, we should not ignore the supernatural or demonic element in these powers. For Paul, the powers were unseen forces working through pagan religion, astrology or magic, or through the oppressive systems that enslaved tyrannized human beings. (Wright, Colossians and Philemon, 72).”
N.T. Wright is N.T. Wrong. The background is not Dionysius, the background is the Old Testament, where we already have a worked-out angelology and entity-ology. I say entity because the status of the half-breeds is still unclear (and I don’t have all the answers). However, another way we know Fr. Hopko is wrong is because he isn’t smarter than the Holy Spirit and Job 38, where we learn that YHWH/God rules the angelic rulers of Mazzaroth – the Zodiac. Yes, that’s right, the Zodiac. God rules the Zodiac (and it’s the same in the Masoretic and LXX – Ive already checked):
4 “ Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
17 Have the gates of death (Hades) been revealed to you?
Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
19 “ Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
20 That you may take it to its territory,
That you may know the paths to its home?
21 Do you know it, because you were born then,
Or because the number of your days is great?
22 “Have you entered the treasury of snow,
Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
23 Which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?
24 By what way is light diffused,
Or the east wind scattered over the earth?
25 “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water,
Or a path for the thunderbolt,
26 To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one,
A wilderness in which there is no man;
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
30 The waters harden like stone,
And the surface of the deep is frozen.
31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?
32 Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?
35 Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
36 Who has put wisdom [sophia] in the mind?
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
You are seeing great mysteries right in front of your eyes. God is not merely describing events in ‘nature.’ What God is talking about is the realms of the angelic rulers – the worlds of the Cherubim and Seraphim, and their realms are in the next dimension and space. The tabernacle, which is an image of the three-tiered universe of earthen sky (outer court), stellar heavens (holy place), 3rd heaven (holy of holies). This is why the menorah is placed in the holy place, because it’s the 7 planets, and the bread with the 12 loaves is the 12 tribes. The priests symbolize the angelic rulers who go up and down the ladder (Jacob’s Ladder) of the dimensions to the throne room and earth. Interstingly, St. Clement of Alexandria speaks of this, as does Gordon Wenham in his commentary on Numbers, as well as James Jordan in “Through New Eyes.”
Anyway, what you are seeing in Job is God interrogating Job on the angelic regulation of the universe. Even Calvin in his commentary on Ezekiel admits the Cherubim have something to do with the rulership of nature. Accoridng to some of my own speculations and research, I suspect the Cherubim to relate to the administration of time and space, but that’s another matter. The Seraphim are ‘fiery serpents’. In fact, in Numbers, when the Israelites are bitten by serpents, it’s ‘seraphim’ that are in the camp. In other words, God allowed seraphim (probably fallen) to wreak some havok as punishment.
But back to the gods. So, we know from what I’ve shown, as well as many more texts I haven’t mentioned, that many angels fell and also that they (good and bad) have rulership. However, here is an interesting concept Ive been toying with – what if the angels and gods aren’t as perfect as we always presume. Generally, we assume they are like automaton robots or something, but according to correct theology, they possess an energy of will, just like we do. Plus, their knowledge is limited, and any time there is limited knowledge, there seems to be the possibility of ‘mistakes’ in judgment. This would explain much. Now, with this in mind, consider how we would read a few texts:
1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.[a]
2 How long will you judge unjustly,
And show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked.
5 They do not know, nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth are unstable.
6 I said, “You are gods,[b]
And all of you are children of the Most High.
7 But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.”
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth;
For You shall inherit all nations.
God is speaking to the gods, telling them that they will be judged insofar as they have misjudged. The gods who judge falsely will experience the fate of men – death. This fits with the notion that St. Paul hints at – that we will judge the angels. Why would that be if the angels were perfect? And if St. Paul means the fallen angels, then what would be the purpose of judging wicked, apostate angels? Rather, as we often see in Scripture, the angelic realm is very, very diverse and full of a lot more contingency and openness than we often presume. This is why Job says:
“Behold, He puts no trust in His holy ones, And the heavens are not pure in His sight;” Job 15:15
Much more can be said here, but I’m more or less throwing this out as a possibility. YHWH/God confirms his judgment on the false gods as well, when He says in Ex. 12:12:
‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.”
So from Dt. 32:8-9, as Dr. Heiser shows in his papers, it’s more natural to see this as the angelic rulers appointed over the 70 nations. Bullinger connects this as well in his famous “Number in Scripture.”
8 When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations,
When He separated the sons of Adam,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the children of Israel.
So you have rulers appointed over the nations, while YHWH/God had purchased Israel as His own. (not that God wasn’t ruler over all the nations). Now, surely God wouldn’t appoint demons over the nations, but at the same time, we are told the gods of the nations are devils, in the Psalms. This is where it’s a bit foggy for me.
We know that angels fell from every rank and 1/3 of the millions of millions followed Lucifer. They were cast down and set up shop on earth. Now how this all works together, I’m not sure. I’m not sure whether the gods are purely angelic, or if they are perhaps a half-breed. Regardless, there is certainly something to all this, to be sure. Much more could be said, but let’s discuss….