This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Biblical Truth Behind Ancient Myths Part I - Mythical "Sons of Gods"

A show Barb and I like to watch - albeit now we see it only on Netflix! - is Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The show is based, albeit with some poetic license to the scripts, on the mythic exploits of the ancient Greek legendary figure Hercules (the scenery, ironically, was shot in New Zealand, and looks more like Ireland than it does ancient Greece, but still a good show nonetheless). Watching these shows recently got me to thinking that if ancient myths are based on some degree of fact, could there have been a historical person, a real figure, by the name of Hercules that actually existed?? Upon pondering this thought, I was reminded of a teaching that evangelist Perry Stone had some years ago about fallen angels, giants, and the origins of demonic spirits, and as I looked into it more, a couple of other questions came to mind - one of them, for instance, was that if Hercules did exist, was he possibly one of the Biblical Nephilim? As I continued to study this, the inspiration came to me to put together a study that dealt with this very thing, and so I did. What I found out was very revelational, and I am going to share some of it here with you now.

After a lot of study and meditating upon this issue, I have come to believe that Hercules was indeed a historic person who actually lived, and that he, along with Gilgamesh and others that were surrounded with legends of superhuman abilities actually existed. Unfortunately, unlike the character portrayed in the TV series by talented actor Kevin Sorbo, the real Hercules was very possibly something much more sinister than the romantic portrayals paint him in both popular culture and Greek mythology. Therefore, at this point I want us to look at a couple of Scriptures, Genesis 6:1-2, 4:

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born to
them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful, and they took
wives to themselves of all whom they chose.

Moving on to verse 4,

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came
in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who
were of old, men of renown. (NKJV)

Let us note some things about the above verses:

1. The "sons of God" procreated with the "daughters of men."
2. Giants roamed the earth (the Biblical Nephilim)
3. These hybrid children were noted as "men of renown"

Now, if you have either had the chance to read some of the mythic epics of such characters as Hercules or Gilgamesh, please note these Biblical texts as you recall the stories, and also take note of how these characters were portrayed in the myths and epics. If you can recall, here are some facts that these myths recall about such characters:

1. They had deities as fathers and human mothers
2. They were mighty men of stature possessing great strength
3. They were renown by reputation

That is eerie isn't it? Going further, let us take the Scripture verses, and go to the Fathers of the Church and see what they had to say about this. As I was researching this, many of the ancient Fathers saw these ancient mythological figures as real people, and accurately discerned that the deities these ancient peoples worshipped were in reality corrupt fallen angels and demonic beings. That alone tells me that when one reads this body of mythology, we are not talking about a piece of fictional literature or a bedtime story, but rather these stories were the "scripture," so to speak, of the ancient religious systems these people followed. Also in my own research, I found as well that the Church Fathers themselves varied on opinion regarding the subject matter of Genesis 6, as some thought the "sons of God" were the righteous seed of Adam's son Seth while the "daughters of men" were Cain's female descendants. However, a vast number of Patristical writings do identify these beings as literal giants and supermen who were the descendants of fallen angels and human women, and being this is part of the body of Church Tradition, I concur with the latter myself, as it makes so much sense in lieu of the ancient mythologies, which all talk of some superhuman protagonist who was sired by deities having flings with human women. Granted, this difference of opinion was amicably allowed because no essentials of the faith were involved, and therefore some leeway in interpretation was allowed. I do want to go on record now, so as to save receiving nasty letters, that the Biblical Nephilim are not the same thing as people today that have medically-diagnosed gigantism; therefore, Andre the Giant, Yao Ming, and Sandy Allen are not Nephilim! Gigantism is a medically diagnosed condition in which the pituitary gland produces more growth hormones than it should, and many people with gigantism are not supermen by any measure; as a matter of fact, many of them have serious health problems as a result. And, they are just normal people with a part of their body that functions differently from the way it should, and those people are to be treated with respect and compassion because they are fully human. Nephilim, as the Bible describes, were actually a different species altogether, and their creation was against God's mandate. And, being many of those Nephilim were killed off years ago, their only existence today is in the form of demons, which are their disembodied spirits because they were not extended the grace of God because their origin and creation was contrary to God's nature. However, some prophecy students have said that in the latter days, during the Tribulation specifically, a new group of Nephilim will be spawned by the Antichrist and will terrorize the earth. Their fate, like their predecessors before them, is cursedness and damnation. I may explore that further in a future study once I am able to research it more to see if it has any validity.

Looking at what the ancient Church Fathers said, we first examine St. Augustine, who more or less wrote that the Nephilim as a species were not uniform, but rather diverse; some were giant in stature, while others were endowed with superhuman strength and/or amazing intellectual abilities (ie: Nimrod of the Bible). An interesting dimension the this is that Saint Augustine saw these Nephilim as being allowed to exist for a season for a purpose, namely to show the vanity of human ability at the expense of the redemption of the soul (Andrew Louthe, ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament Vol. I - Genesis 1-11. {Carol Stream, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2001} pp. 125-126). Saint Ambrose likewise believed the Nephilim were literal giants, sired by fallen angels having illicit relations with human women, and that their very physical abilities generated an unholy arrogance - identical to that which got Satan cast out of the heavens - and this arrogance caused them to take little regard for their souls because they were cursed with no redemption anyway (ibid.). The ideas expressed on the subject by both SS. Augustine and Ambrose echo a similar theme by the Biblical writer of Ecclesiastes, who of course emphasized the vanity and futility of all earthly attempts to better oneself. The idea expressed by the Church Fathers and indeed Holy Scripture itself is a cardinal Christian doctrine, that the soul is eternal and thus should be given more care and attention, as Jesus Himself died to save it from damnation. In other words, God looks at the content of a vessel rather than the vessel itself. Many ancient writers and philosophers from perspectives other than that taught by Judeo-Christian doctrine placed great importance on the physical rather than the spiritual, and that is why you have all the Herculean mythology, the anatomically-perfect statuary, and other things from ancient Greece in particular. However, the Judeo-Christian idea is radically opposite, for even in stories of men with superhuman strength in the Bible such as Sampson (Sampson, by the way, was not a Nephilim but rather was given his strength by God himself) the idea is dependence on God rather than revelling in one's physical prowess, as the latter could be said to be a form of idolatry.

Many of the Church Fathers, as well as ancient rabbinical sources within Jewish tradition, also had a great familiarity with some ancient Christian and Jewish writings that, although not universally accepted as Scripture, still provided useful commentary to explain and expound upon Scriptural books and in essence "fill in the gaps" that were often left open by the Scriptural record (there is no mistake with the "gaps" though, as we must remember that primarily the Bible is a chronicle of God's plan of redemption for humanity, and the canon of Scripture was set based on that, but other books of the time do provide valuable insight and are complimentary rather than contradictory to the Scriptural record, and are therefore acceptable sources to use). Such documents as The Book of Enoch and The Book of Jubilees, among others, devote a lot of copy to the subject of the fallen angels, Nephilim, and origins of certain ancient religions and their "gods," which many of these extant writings describe as actually being fallen angels and demonic powers. Jubilees in particular devotes passages of its content to the fact that these fallen angels originally came with the noble intention of teaching men, but eventually became corrupted, and in my own estimation this is where the origins of many pagan deities came from. Zeus, the principal deity of the ancient Greeks, comes to mind here. Part of that corruption of course resulted in sexual temptations between these fallen angels and human women, thus resulting in a race of mutants who, by their size, intelligence, and/or physical prowess, became the Nephilim.
In Chapter V of The Book of Jubilees, for instance, of which I have the copy of an 1888 translation by Rev. George H. Schouldes which is still available for purchase from Artisan Books in Muskogee, OK, the Nephilim are portrayed as a race of bloodthirsty, cannibalistic giants (perhaps this is where the horrible practice of human sacrifice in some cultures came from?). And, the popularly accepted view is that the disembodied spirits of these Nephilim became demons, due largely to the cursed condition of their forbidden origins. Although I have personally come to believe and accept that these Nephilim were indeed giants, I also have, upon further study, come to believe they are widely diverse, and not all were giants. That would, of course, explain certain legendary figures such as Nimrod of the Bible, Gilgamesh (many believe these were also one and the same, just as a side note), and Hercules. Joseph P. Lumpkin, in his book Fallen Angels, the Watchers and The Origin of Evil (Alabama: Fifth Estate, 2006) notes this on page 34-37 as well.

All this being said, it is time I give you a summary of my own belief about all this. Although it is just my personal belief and not universally-accepted dogma, I am nonetheless convinced that the following is a plausible explanation about the existence in mythology of superhuman hero figures such as Hercules, and thus you can take it for whatever you wish. Therefore, here is my personal conviction.

When Satan led a rebellion in heaven, he took down a lot of angelic "partners in crime" with him, and many of them ended up on the antediluvian earth. I believe that humans could interact with these angelic beings at that time, but due to the fallen and corrupted nature of many of these angelic beings, many of them took advantage of the human weakness for hero-worship and set themselves up as "gods" to be worshipped, in effect asserting an authority over humanity they were not supposed to have. Therefore, it is my opinion that the myriads of pantheons of "gods" that many ancient civilizations had were in reality hierarchies of fallen angels and their enslaved disembodied demon children. There is only one God, and He is the Creator of the universe, but Satan and his kind have sought to usurp, always unsuccessfully, God's authority. That being said, in the Herculean legend, Zeus then was probably a fallen angel of high rank who served as an evil principality over the area of the ancient Aegean, and thus like so many other fallen angels he fell into the trap of being attracted to the daughters of men, and thus mated with Alchemene, the mother of Hercules, to produce his own "seed of renown men." This then would make Hercules not just a subject of myth, but rather an actual historical figure who was of the Nephilim. This same story has an identical Mesopotamian counterpart in the Gilgamesh epic, and other civilizations have had similar stories (Krishna in India, Quetzalcoatl in Mesoamerica, etc.). Pagan civilizations, devoid of the true God, looked to these men as heroes and legends, but in reality they were evil by nature - the real Hercules then would not have been a very nice person, to put it in plain language! Such beings did possess great knowledge, superhuman strength and other endowments they received from their fallen angelic fathers, but they also inherited a nature characterized by a wicked self-centeredness and masochistic attitude toward normal humans. Then, when they as mortal beings eventually died, their cursed spirits became the demons. This is going to radically rock the thinking of many on the subject, but seriously think about this for a moment - myth is often constructed around some grain of fact, and in this case the facts sell the case. It is up to us, if the interest so draws us to do so, to peel away the layers of romanticism and mythology around the fact and discover it for ourselves, as often truth is stranger than fiction. The Bible is God's infallible truth, and I therefore personally believe it holds the key to the truth about so many things and their true origins. I realize that some people who may not be Christians may read this and probably think it is the craziest thing you have ever heard, and when relying upon human reasoning, a lot of the unexplained sounds bizarre. However, God says in His Word that he uses the foolish things to confound the wise, and therefore that should give the skeptic food for thought.

In addition to the Nephilim and their existence, it must be noted also that these fallen angels were believed by many ancient writers to have granted mysterious knowledge to the people who worshipped them as deities, albeit at a high price and also mixed with cruel deceptions. Some things that the achaelogist marvels at in regard to ancient civilizations - the Mayan calendar, which is generating all the 2012 hoopla recently, as well as the Egyptian pyramids and the Easter Island monolyths, come to mind - are actually no great mystery when you see them with eyes of discernment. The Mayan calendar, for instance, was actually remarkably accurate with dates, etc., for a people as limited scientifically as the Maya were. Mark Hitchcock, in his book 2012: The Bible and The End of the World (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2009) talks about this in detail on pages 41-42. Recently, I had the privelege of hearing Dr. Hitchcock speak at a prophecy conference we attended in St. Petersburg, FL, and one thing he said (which is also in the book as well) was that it is perfectly sensible to conclude that the same spirits that inspired the Mayan religion in particular (a gruesome system, by the way, which centered around the practice of human sacrifice which included but was not limited to ripping the live, beating heart out of a victim and cannibalizing it, a practice they also shared with other Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Olmecs, Toltecs, and Aztecs) would have been perfectly capable of disseminating advanced knowledge of the cosmos to their worshippers. And, being many of these "gods" were either demons or fallen angels, it stands to reason that this is where some of the remarkable things they are noted for in their civilizations came from. An anonymous ancient text that Lumpkin quotes in his book alludes to this as well when it states that these fallen angels taught men charms and spirits as well as metallurgy, astrology, and other arts (Lumpkin, 57).

In conclusion, I urge here that when we study or read works of antiquity, in particular mythologies of various civilizations, let's be careful not to dismiss everything we read as a mere fairy tale or fantasy. Behind every religious system save the Judeo-Christian tradition and possibly atheism, there is a demonic or angelic (meaning fallen angels) presence, and the mythology of these religious systems also serve as their sacred texts in a lot of cases. Although corrupted to some extent by demonic deception and also the grammatical limitations of the people of the time, after peeling away all the layers of embellishment and mythology, there is some factual origin to that certain religious system. The truth also can be either simpler than the myth, or more shocking, or both. In coming weeks, we will be exploring other aspects of mythology and legend, and as we do so, prepare to have your eyes opened to some things you may not have thought possible. God bless you all until next time.