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Biblical Archaeology Review 46:3, Summer 2020

Epistles: Biblical Profile: Exploring the Story of the Sons of God

By Jaap Doedens

Biblical Archaeology Review

The enigmatic tale in Genesis 6:1-4 about the “sons of God,” the “daughters of men,” and the “giant heroes of old” is obviously not a central text in biblical exegesis or theology. Because of its puzzling content, however, this short story has challenged the imagination of exegetes throughout the ages. Consequently, an otherwise incidental text became the starting point of a worldview in which fallen angels and demons play a central role.

In my new book, I examine the different ways this passage about these elusive “sons of God” has been explained. By doing so, I try to find new perspectives on how to interpret this narrative.1 I briefly summarize those findings here.

Crucial to the understanding of Genesis 6:1-4 is the question: Who are these “sons of God”? The history of interpretation shows two main approaches: They are either human or non-human. This has resulted in four different explanations: the “sons of God” as fallen angels, mighty men, descendants of Seth, or divine beings.

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