The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4

Analysis and History of Exegesis


Author: J.J.T. Doedens
In The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4, Jaap Doedens offers an overview of the history of exegesis of the enigmatic text about the ‘sons of God’, the ‘daughters of men’, and the ‘giants’. First, he analyzes the text of Gen 6:1–4. Subsequently, he tracks the different exegetical proposals from the earliest exegesis until those of modern times. He further provides the reader with an evaluation of the meaning of the expression ‘sons of God’ in the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East. In the last chapter, he concentrates on the message and function of Gen 6:1–4. This volume comprehensively gathers ancient and modern exegetical attempts, providing the means for an ongoing dialogue about this essentially complex and elusive passage.

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Jaap Doedens, Ph.D. Kampen Theological University (2013), Pápa Reformed Theological Seminary, Pápa, Hungary, is college associate professor at the latter seminary. He has published articles on the Old Testament, the intertestamental period, and the New Testament in English, Dutch, and Hungarian
Doedens is to be applauded for a competent, cautious, and nearly comprehensive treatment of a short text that has captured the imagination and attention of scholar and layperson through the millennia......Doedens’s study is thoughtful, thorough, and helpful for those interested in this tiny passage and the massive literature it has spawned.
Michael Hundley, RBL

1 Setting the Course: Introduction
 1 From Boulder to Keystone to Stumbling Block
 2 The Mainstream Solutions
 3 Approach

2 A Quest for Meaning: Analyzing Genesis 6:1–4
 1 Introduction
 2 Lexical and Grammatical Analysis of Genesis 6:1
 3 Lexical and Grammatical Analysis of Genesis 6:2
 4 Lexical and Grammatical Analysis of Genesis 6:3
 5 Lexical and Grammatical Analysis of Genesis 6:4
 6 Content and Context: General Observations Relating to Genesis 6:1–4
 7 Dramatis Personae: Provisional Conclusions Related to Genesis 6:1–4

3 Trodden Paths: History of Exegesis of the Expression ‘Sons of God’
 1 Introduction
 2 The Ancient Versions
 3 Philo of Alexandria
 4 Flavius Josephus
 5 Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
 6 Dead Sea Scrolls
 7 Rabbinic Tradition
 8 New Testament
 9 The Church Fathers
 10 Late Middle Ages and Reformation
 11 Newer Exegesis
 12 Conclusions to the History of Exegesis

4 At the Crossroads: Weighing Exegetical Solutions
 1 Introduction
 2 The Heavenly Category: ‘Sons of God’ Interpreted as Angels
 3 The Social Category: ‘Sons of God’ Interpreted as Mighty-Ones
 4 The Religious Category: ‘Sons of God’ Interpreted as Sethites
 5 The Mythological Category: ‘Sons of God’ Interpreted as Divine Beings
 6 Minor Variants and Combinations
 7 Conclusions

5 Perspectives: The Functions of Genesis 6:1–4
 1 Introduction
 2 ‘Sons of God’ and Biblical Monotheism
 3 Genesis 6:1–4 and Myth in the Old Testament
 4 Truth Claim and Functions of Genesis 6:1–4
 5 Final Observations
Index of Ancient Sources
For those interested in the Old Testament, in the enigmatic ‘sons of God’ in Gen 6:1-4, and for anyone curious about the influence of this text on theological reflection during the ages.