• Welcome to Christian Forums
  1. Welcome to Christian Forums, a forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to be able to join in fellowship with Christians all over the world.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon and God Bless!

The Catholic tradition on Nephilim, Incubi, and Succubi...

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by Michie, Apr 17, 2014.

  1. Michie

    Michie Perch Perkins. Catholic reporter. ;) Supporter

    +18,042
    Catholic
    Married
    US-Others
     
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. Gwendolyn

    Gwendolyn back in black

    +1,532
    Catholic
    Private
    Fantastic article, Michie. Thanks for posting.

    Though Peter Kreeft leans toward the interpretation of the Genesis passages in light of Enoch, the majority of other scholars I have read agree with St Augustine, that the "sons of God" were holy men from the line of Seth, and the "daughters of men" were from the line of Cain.

    While I find the book of Enoch fascinating for its mythology, it presents ontological impossibilities (divine, incorporeal, immortal beings mating with mundane, corporeal, mortals). Still, I love reading fiction books that involve various interpretations of the Nephilim/Watchers as half-breed (humane/divine) demon hunters, hehehe.

    Also, I personally do not believe that divine/demonic beings could mate with humans, but that possibility leads many lay people to theorise that a demon (or Satan himself) could sire a child, and that child would be the anti-Christ. See movies like Rosemary's Baby and the Omen.
     
  3. Rhamiel

    Rhamiel Member of the Round Table

    +8,185
    Catholic
    Single
    From the article
    in A Popular History of Witchcraft by Montague Summers, page 191
    has Pope Benedict XIV saying that reference to the "sons of God" in Genies is "This passage has reference to those demons who are known as incubi and succubi"

    so we have the personal view of a Pope, the view of St. Thomas Aquinas and the view of thousands of other Catholics through the ages... but it is not the "mind of the Church"???

    I think the person who wrote this article does not have a proper understanding of tradition.
    even if it is small t and not big T, I think this view of demons should not be dismissed so lightly.
     
  4. Rhamiel

    Rhamiel Member of the Round Table

    +8,185
    Catholic
    Single
    the other view is that demons take the seed from men they seduce and use it for to inseminate women who they also seduce, that is an odd idea

    what are some fictional novels you like with Nephilim? I like fantasy and horror sometimes, always looking for something new to read.
     
  5. guyfriendly

    guyfriendly Member

    117
    +18
    Protestant
    In Relationship
    Old thread but an interesting topic. One thing come to mind is the NT writer reference angels who left their heavenly state (Book of Jude). I think the writer is referring back to Genesis 6. The NT writer also speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah and Noah's Flood. So whenever the NT writer reference these stories it always go back to Genesis. The NT writer assumes their audience remember these stories. I believe it's the same way with the angels.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  6. Simon_Templar

    Simon_Templar Not all who wander are lost

    +995
    Catholic
    Single
    The textual and historical evidence for Genesis 6 is overwhelmingly on the side of the "angelic" interpretation. There is basically no support for the "Sethite" interpretation before the time of St. Augustine.

    Further, the fact is that St. Augustine and the people of his time actually had very little information or knowledge of the relevant textual and historical context of Genesis 6. As a result there is much of the evidence that they simply couldn't have known. In other words, they were basically shooting in the dark, giving it their best guess.

    Most of the people today who follow the Sethite interpretation today do so solely on the basis of tradition and the authority of St. Augustine (and others). There are very few other legitimate reasons to support this conclusion.

    The text itself does not fit well with the Sethite interpretation.
    There are other biblical passages that appear to refer to this event and support the angelic interpretation.
    The surrounding body of literature from both Hebrew sources and Mesopotamian sources clearly and unambiguously state that the event was a union of celestial beings with human beings.

    The only real objection that most people have is that they don't think "angels" should be able to mate with humans. To this end they often site the passage from Jesus about Angels not being taken or given in marriage.

    #1 - Angels are not supposed to marry and produce offspring. This does not mean they are incapable of doing so. The bible is clear that this event was a great sin precisely because the Angels broke from their natural estate and did something that was a grave violation of their nature.

    #2 - We know from scripture that Angels are perfectly capable of appearing in visible human form. They are capable of eating and drinking, etc. What would make them incapable of mimicking every function of the human body including procreation? Why would they be incapable of genetic manipulation?

    #3 - It is suggested in the ancient accounts of this incident that the primary motivation of the celestial beings in this event was that they wanted to be able to create their own offspring. In other words they envied the human gift of procreation, the ability to take part in creating new life. This, to me seems like a very possible motivation that could tempt angels. It is such a great good and truly a wondrous gift and ability.
     
  7. LivingWordUnity

    LivingWordUnity Unchanging Deposit of Faith, Traditional Catholic

    +10,591
    Catholic
    Married
    Angels can seem to have a human form. But when they do it's only an appearance, kind of like a hologram. Angels are pure spirit and don't have a physical body. They don't procreate. Jesus says this about angels when he says they don't marry (see Mt 22:30). So the interpretation of the "Nephilim" as being the sons of Seth makes the most sense. And because the early Church fathers interpret it that way that's the interpretation that I accept.
     
  8. Rhamiel

    Rhamiel Member of the Round Table

    +8,185
    Catholic
    Single
    I do not think the Early Church Fathers were unified on this interpretation
     
  9. LivingWordUnity

    LivingWordUnity Unchanging Deposit of Faith, Traditional Catholic

    +10,591
    Catholic
    Married
    Perhaps the early Church fathers didn't all interpret the "Nephilim" as the sons of Seth, but I'm sure that none of them interpreted them as angels.
     
  10. Simon_Templar

    Simon_Templar Not all who wander are lost

    +995
    Catholic
    Single
    Why would you assume this? In some apparitions I would say that this might be suggested by the nature of the apparition. However, there is no reason to assume that this is the only way in which angels can appear. Further, there are accounts in the bible where the forms that angels take on do appear to be physical. For example they eat real food given to them by humans, they interact physically with the world around them etc.

    St. Thomas Aquinas in his section on angels and bodies clearly describes the angels as using a real physical body, not an illusion. He does make it clear that the angel does not make the body "alive" and does not take on that body as though it were the angel's body. It is to them only a tool or an instrument that they manipulate for a time.

    Further, we know that angels can manipulate matter and cause material effects without having a material form themselves. So why is this an impediment?

    The assumptions here don't hold water, and even if they did, it wouldn't be clear that this prevents the event from being possible.

    I'm not remotely disputing this. There is, however a big difference between saying "angels don't have a physical body by nature" and saying "angels are incapable of taking on a physical form temporarily". The first we all agree with. The second is denied by common sense, scripture, and tradition.

    I already commented on this, but what you are doing here is a combination of taking the passage out of context, bad assumptions and reading into the text.

    The first point is that you are making the same mistake here that you made above regarding angels not having physical bodies. The fact that something is unnatural for a creature does not mean that it is therefore impossible for the creature. Humans have a long history of doing things that are unnatural for us. Angels do too, if you consider the rebellion of Satan. Angels were created to serve, that is their nature. Yet Satan's whole rebellion was (according to tradition) based on his refusal to serve. In other words, his rejection of his own nature. In a very real sense, all sin is precisely this, that we reject our nature and try to do and to become something that we are not.

    Just because angels don't by nature do these things doesn't mean they can't do them. Likewise because they are not supposed to, doesn't mean they can't. Angels have free will and can abuse their tremendous power and intellect.

    Secondly, the Bible itself in the Book of Jude states that angels did commit a sexual transgression.

    6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

    This passage explicitly states that there were angels who left their natural state and committed a sexual sin because they pursued a desire that was not fitting with their nature.

    The Sethite interpretation only makes sense if you ignore aspects of the biblical text, all of the historical context, and every Christian and Jewish source that comments on this prior to the 3rd century AD.

    Which brings me to this...

    This is just not true. There was no consensus among the Church Fathers about this issue. Some Church father's embraced the Sethite view. Others went with the Angelic interpretation.

    It is demonstrable that the Sethite view did not develop until the early 3rd century AD. The first known source to expound this view was the writings of Julius Africanus. This idea, however, did not become wide spread or popular until St. Augustine defended it in the 5th century AD. Up to that time the majority opinion was the Angelic view.

    Following is a list of Early Church Fathers that comment on this issue, when they were born and which view they took...

    b. 100 - St Justin Martyr - Angels
    b. 115 - St Iraneous of Lyons - Angels
    b. 150 - St Clement of Alexandria - Angels
    b. 160 - Tertullian - Angels
    b. 133 - St. Athenagoras of Alexandria - Angels
    b. 240 – Lactantius – Angels
    b. 275 - Eusebius of Caesarea - Angels
    b. 306 - St Ephraim the Syrian - Sethite
    b. 315 - St Hilary of Poitiers - Angels
    b. 340 - St Jerome - Angels
    b. 344 - St John Chrysostom - Sethite
    b. 354 - St Augustine – Sethite
    b. 360 – Sulpicius Severus - Angels
    b. 374 - St Ambrose – Angels
     
  11. Fenwick

    Fenwick OG CFer

    +6,047
    United States
    Catholic
    Single
    US-Republican
    Oh man.

    I see "nephilim" and it's like I'm having Vietnam flashbacks to all my squabbles with my ex-mother-in-law. There was no conspiracy theory she didn't believe, including all the weird theories tied to the nephilim.
     
  12. LivingWordUnity

    LivingWordUnity Unchanging Deposit of Faith, Traditional Catholic

    +10,591
    Catholic
    Married
    "The nature of the angels is spiritual. (De fide.) The 4th Lateran and the Vatican Councils speak of a spiritual and a corporeal creation and refer the former to the angels. D 428, 1783: spiritualem et corporalem (creaturam), angelicam videlicet et mundanam. As distinct from human nature, which is composed of spirit and body, the nature of angels is purely spiritual, that is, free of all materiality." [1]

    "Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures: 'The angels work together for the benefit of us all' (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 114, 3, ad 3)." [2]

    "We cannot conclude our catechesis on God, Creator of the world, without devoting adequate attention to a precise item of divine Revelation: the creation of purely spiritual beings which Sacred Scripture calls 'angels'. " [3]

    1. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 116
    2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 350
    3. Pope St. John Paul II, Catechesis on the Holy Angels,
    given at 6 General Audiences from 9 July to 20 August 1986.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  13. MoonlessNight

    MoonlessNight Fides et Ratio

    +3,463
    United States
    Catholic
    Private
    US-Others
    No one has disputed that angels are immaterial. The only person actively arguing for the angelic interpretation of the nephilim is Simon_Templar, and he's explicitly stated that angels are immaterial. You're arguing for a point that isn't disputed.

    That being said, I don't think that it's a common opinion that Angels would engage in biological processes, even indirectly by means of assumed bodies. I don't know that it's impossible that they could, since they do indeed manipulate material objects, but I don't know if there is anything to support the idea beyond this one passage in Genesis (which can be interpreted in other ways) and mere speculation. Even saying that they engage in eating and the like is questionable. Aquinas, for instance, has this as his reply to an objection that Angels have been seen to eat (ST Part One, Question 51, Article 3):

    Or, even more relevantly his response to the next objection (which is a claim that Angels beget the nephilihm through sexual intercourse):

    Put aside the appeal to Augustine Sethite interpretation of the nephilim themselves, since I know that Simon rejects that. We still have a reasoning that angels (including fallen angels) can't engage in sexual intercourse in any meaningful fashion, but can at best perform a sort of in vitro fertilization where all the real procreation is done by human biological processes, and not the angels.

    Of course, I suppose that one could argue that perhaps what is meant by the nephilim are a race that were created by angels inseminating some women with sperm taken from some men, in which case the nephilim wouldn't be supernatural at all but merely normal humans who had an unusual set of circumstances behind their conception. This seems like wild speculation to me though.
     
  14. Simon_Templar

    Simon_Templar Not all who wander are lost

    +995
    Catholic
    Single
    Nothing I said contradicts any of that.
     
  15. Simon_Templar

    Simon_Templar Not all who wander are lost

    +995
    Catholic
    Single
    yea, my brother is all into the conspiracy side of it as well. I don't have any particular need for that stuff or interest in it. However, I think that this is actually part of a larger context to the Old Testament that has been largely missed.

    The OT creates a much more dynamic supernatural world than most people realize. A lot of the things in the OT that people think don't make sense or that they think are horrible etc, are precisely because they are missing big pieces of context that are present in the details but are often misunderstood or ignored.

    This plays into the NT as well because so much of what happens in the Gospels refers back to events from the OT.

    For me it just adds so much understanding to scripture that I think people are really missing out by not knowing these details.
     
  16. Fenwick

    Fenwick OG CFer

    +6,047
    United States
    Catholic
    Single
    US-Republican
    That I would agree with you. It's just when people start claiming rock formations are actually the skeletons of nephilim, or things of that nature, that I switch off.
     
  17. Simon_Templar

    Simon_Templar Not all who wander are lost

    +995
    Catholic
    Single
    I think a major point of the Nephilim story is that the angels in question were jealous of the human ability to have offspring. The angels in question wanted to create offspring of their own and in order to do this, they essentially tried to co-opt the human procreative ability and use it for their own purposes.

    Angels are clearly capable of creating things out of pre-existing matter. How complex this could be and what limits are placed upon it we really have no idea. Could an angel synthesize sperm? I don't know. I don't see any particular reason why it would be impossible. Baring that, I think it is possible that an angel could use existing sperm and modify it, or modify the fertilized embryo etc. We are at the point where we can do this to a limited degree with just human science. I'm pretty sure angels could do it much better

    The tougher question is the metaphysical side. When human parents mate we understand the genetic side, but do the parents impart spiritual attributes somehow as well? I know some Lutherans believe this, but I'm not sure what the Church teaches on this, if anything.

    If we look at it in the Thomistic / Classical sense then the soul is the Form of humanity and the body is the matter. Is it possible that angels could impart a different form to the matter of a child conceived in this fashion? I don't know.

    It is clear, however, that up to a certain point in time, every ancient near eastern culture believed this happened, including both Jews and Christians as well as all the pagans. It is also clear that the Bible is referencing that event described by all of those cultures. Regardless of what you think about that event, I think it is a bit dishonest to try and retroactively re-interpret scripture away from that story because we don't like that story.
     
  18. MoonlessNight

    MoonlessNight Fides et Ratio

    +3,463
    United States
    Catholic
    Private
    US-Others
    If your starting point of "it's not impossible in principle," that's what I mean by wild speculation. Sure, it might not be something that we can know to be impossible, but that's not a high bar to clear.

    This would probably be more productive as the background speculation used to develop a science fiction or fantasy book.

    This is probably impossible. The human form (i.e. the soul) is both the organization that leads to a living body (since from a strict Thomistic sense, a corpse isn't a human body but the remains of what used to be one, much as the shambles of what used to be a table isn't a table) as well as its intellectual powers (these are what make the human soul immaterial and what separates us from the animals). For the form of a human to be distinct from the usual form either the body would have to literally have a different form in how it develops, and I don't see how that's going to happen merely because the conception occurred in unusual circumstances, given that the rest of the development would be the same, or would have to have additional intellectual powers, and I don't see what those would be.
     
  19. Simon_Templar

    Simon_Templar Not all who wander are lost

    +995
    Catholic
    Single
    If we were just talking about random speculation I would agree. However, what we are talking about is an event that the Bible as well as every other Near Eastern culture's mythology claims happened. The objection offered is that it must mean something else because this is impossible.

    It is a valid refutation of that claim to say "It's not impossible".
     
  20. Tutorman

    Tutorman Charismatic Episcopalian

    +802
    United States
    Episcopalian
    Married
    US-Republican
    The truth is out there........




    :D:D
     
Loading...