Genes, Giants, Monsters, and Men (Farrell)

Farrell, Joseph P. Genes, Giants, Monsters, and Men.

Farrell, Joseph P.

The structure of Farrell’s argument is sound and impressive.  I have no real disagreement with him on that point.  His content, unfortunately, is often badly mistaken. He builds on his earlier Cosmic War thesis.  According to that thesis, if there were survivors to the cosmic war, then they would have found a way to pass on that knowledge.

So far, so good.  Unfortunately, his analysis of biblical scholarship is painfully inadequate. He is 150 years behind the times. He thinks the term “Yahweh” derives from a minor figure in the Babylonian pantheon. That is bad enough, but at other times, especially in his use of the O’Brien’s work, he comes close to suggesting Yahweh is actually a demigod or even Nephilim! 

When someone makes these claims, we must examine the scholarship.  Farrell starts well.  He debunks the Documentary Hypothesis and in doing so draws upon the excellent work of Gleason Archer. Towards the middle of the book, however, he utilizes no such scholarship, opting instead for the fringe, and quite frankly bizarre, research of the O’Briens. This is not the Farrell we know of Maximus, JFK, and Roswell fame.

The structure of the book is worth considering in detail.  In fact, a small outline of it will serve just as well as a review.

  1. Elites did survive such a war and they are scattered in pockets over the globe.
  2. These elites had certain agendas that included technological advances.  One should note, however, that Farrell does not subscribe to the ancient alien hypothesis.  These elites are human (or perhaps Fallen Watchers, though he does not entertain that idea).
    1. These agendas were both hidden and open.
  3. If these elites have certain goals, then they must ensure these goals continue over time.  That means common networks, etc.
  4. Farrell reads the Enuma Elish literally: a cosmic war between Marduk and Tiamat.  Marduk employed some form of torsion physics, a bending and pleating of space-time.
  5. Both ancient and modern civilizations engaged in “genome” wars.
    1. Farrell notes similarities between the I Ching and DNA.
    2. He sees both having an analogical structure, information-creating systems, and a torsion moment of rotational characteristics.

The title of the book suggests that the nephilim are involved. They are, but they are not as important as one may think. I think it is irrelevant whether we find Nephilim skeletons around the world. I think they exist, and I think it is funny when standard historical models are upset, but I do not have a lot riding on it.


Corrupting the Image, vol. 1 (Hamp)

Thesis: Just as there is a seed of the Satan, so also is there a seed of the Serpent.  To be sure, Hamp is not saying that Cain, for one, is a quasi-Serpentine child of Eve.  Rather, Satan will (or at least try to) further corrupt the image of God by corrupting its genetic code.

Biophotons. Hamp explains how DNA emits a faint photoelectric signal.

The material on the Nephilim is the standard stuff one would find in Heiser et al.  Hamp does score points on the nature of the “spiritual” and “angels.”  In common parlance today, and in Greek philosophy of old, spirit or spiritual meant “ghostly,” not real, or nebulous. In the Bible, however, it suggests another dimension.  We know that angels are spirits. The next questions we ask of the text settle the issue:

*If spirits are immaterial, then can they be seen?  Greek philosophy says no, the Bible says yes (Job 4:15-17).

*if spirits are immaterial, then can they touch and be touched?  Greek philosophy says no; the Bible denies the premise (Gen. 19:3, 10, 16; 32:22ff).

Again, the above points are well-known among those who maintain the supernatural interpretation of the Bible.  Hamp, moreover, establishes an even stronger claim. Angels (or whatever similar term) come from the spirit-realm (or invisible realm, etc).  In this sense, “spirit” means coming from the spirit-dimension.  We have New Testament evidence of this. Our fathers ate “spiritual” food from heaven, the bread of angels.  It was quite material, but what made it “spiritual” was its source.

He has a good section on the “alien abduction” phenomenon. Like many, he views them as demonic encounters.  I am sympathetic to that idea, but I think it is too simplistic.  The “grays” often do not act like demons.

Although I agree with him that there is an alien/demonic angle to the transhumanist project, and I agree that there is a corruption of DNA, I just do not see his secondary thesis as necessary.  He claims, based on his reading of Genesis 3:15, that there must be a genetic “Seed of the Serpent.”  Maybe there will be, but I do not see the text suggesting it.

This book is a welcome addition to the growing concern over transhumanism.  Even where I disagree, Hamp has given us many resources and much to think about.

Bibliography from Veneration

This is a condensed bibliography from Derek Gilbert’s Veneration

Conrad l’Heureux, “The yelide harapa—A Cultic Association of Warriors.” Bulletin of the American
Schools of Oriental Research
No. 221, (Feb., 1976), pp. 83-85.

E. C. B. MacLaurin, “Anak/ʾανξ.” Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 15, Fasc. 4 (Oct., 1965), pp. 468-474.

Brian B. Schmidt, “Israel’s Beneficent Dead: The Character and Origin of Israelite Ancestor Cults and
Necromancy.” (Oxford: University of Oxford doctoral thesis, 1991), pp. 158–159.

Amar Annus, “Are There Greek Rephaim? On the Etymology of Greek Meropes and Titanes.” UgaritForschungen 31 (1999), pp. 13–30.

Amar Annus, “On the Origin of Watchers: A Comparative Study of the Antediluvian Wisdom in
Mesopotamian and Jewish Traditions,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha vol. 19:4 (2010), pp. 277–320.

Christopher B. Hays, “An Egyptian Loanword in the Book of Isaiah and the Deir ʾAlla Inscription: Heb. nsṛ, Aram. nqr, and Eg. nṯr as “[Divinized] Corpse.” Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections Vol. 4:2
(2012), p. 18.

George C. Heider, The Cult of Molek: A Reassessment (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985), pp. 90-91.

Brian R. Doak, “Ezekiel’s Topography of the (Un-)Heroic Dead in Ezekiel 32:17–32.” Journal of
Biblical Literature
, Vol. 132, No. 3 (2013), p. 611.

Ronald S. Handel, “Of Demigods and the Deluge: Toward an Interpretation of Genesis 6:1–4.” Journal of
Biblical Literature
106 (1987), p. 22.

Frölich, Ida (2014). “Mesopotamian Elements and the Watchers Traditions”, in The Watchers in Jewish and
Christian Traditions
(ed. Angela Kim Hawkins, Kelley Coblentz Bautch, and John Endres; Minneapolis:
Fortress), p. 23.

Second Coming of Saturn Bibliography

Lord willing, I plan to read Derek Gilbert’s Second Coming of Saturn. While Gilbert does not claim to be a scholar on the level of Michael Heiser, Gilbert is second to none when it comes to putting all the research in one area. In that case he might be more accessible than Heiser. SkywatchTV has a running series on his study notes. I thought it would be a good idea to put most of his footnoted sources in one area.

1 Enoch 6:1–7. George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam, 1 Enoch: The Hermeneia Translation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012).

Amar Annus, “Are There Greek Rephaim? On the Etymology of Greek Meropes and Titanes.” Ugarit-Forschungen 31 (1999).

Aren M. Maeir, “A New Interpretation of the Term ʿopalim (עֳפָלִים) in the Light of Recent Archaeological Finds from Philistia.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol 32.1 (2007), pp. 25–26.

Brian B. Schmidt, Israel’s Beneficent Dead: The Origin and Character of Israelite Ancestor Cults and Necromancy (Doctoral thesis: University of Oxford, 1991), pp. 158–159.

Christopher B. Hays and Joel M. LeMon, “The Dead and Their Images: An Egyptian Etymology for Hebrew ôb.” Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections Vol. 1:4 (2009), pp. 1–4.

Christopher B. Hays, “Enlil, Isaiah, and the Origins of the ʾĕlîlîm: A Reassessment.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 132(2) (2020), p. 226.

Edward Lipiński, “El’s Abode: Mythological Traditions Related to Mount Hermon and to the Mountains of Armenia,” Orientalia Lovaniensa Periodica II (1971), pp. 18–19.

George Heider, The Cult of Molek: A Reassessment (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985), pp. 390–391.

George W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1–36; 81–108 (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), p. 184.

Jaap Doedens, The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4 (Leiden: Brill, 2019), pp. 250–252.

Josef Tropper, “Spirit of the Dead.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd extensively rev. ed. (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), p. 807.

Judd Burton, “The War of the Words, God-kings, and Their Titles: A Preliminary Report on the Linguistic Relationship Between the Rephaim and Royal Titles in Eurasian Languages.” Bulletin of the Institute of Biblical Anthropology (2021), p. 7.

Klaas Spronk, Beatific Afterlife in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East (Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker, 1986), pp. 168–169.

Klaas Spronk, “Baal of Peor.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.) (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), p. 147.

Klaas Spronk, “Travellers.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.). (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999) p. 876.

 Lluis Feliu, The God Dagan in Bronze Age Syria (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2003), p. 212.

Nicolas Wyatt, “Calf.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible: 2nd extensively rev. ed. (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), p. 181.

Noga Ayali-Darshan, “The Seventy Bulls Sacrificed at Sukkot (Num 29:12–34) in Light of a Ritual Text from Emar (Emar 6, 373).” Vetus Testamentum 65:1 (2015), pp. 7–8.

Renata MacDougal, Remembrance and the Dead in Second Millennium BC Mesopotamia (University of Leicester: Doctoral dissertation, 2014) pp. 58–59.

Scott B. Noegel, “God of Heaven and Sheol: The ‘Unearthing’ of Creation.” Hebrew Studies, Vol. 58 (2017), p. 121.

Sjur Cappelan Papazian, “Abgal or Apkallu.” Cradle of Civilization, April 5, 2015., retrieved 5/16/21.

Stephanie Dalley, “Apkallu.” In: Eggler J./Uehlinger Ch., eds., Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Ancient Near East,, retrieved 6/26/21.

William R. Gallagher, “On the Identity of Hêlēl Ben Šaḥar of Is. 14:12–15.” UF 26 (1994), pp. 140–141.

Wolfgang Herrmann, “El.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst Eds., Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd extensively rev. ed. (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999) p. 275.

Xinhua Wang, The Metamorphosis of Enlil in Early Mesopotamia (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2011), p. 245.

The World Turned Upside Down (Heiser)

Heiser, Michael. The World Turned Upside Down: The Gospel in Stranger Things. Lexham Press.

You have to be careful using a pop culture piece to illustrate the gospel. Too often it sounds like the Boomer youth pastors who try to relate Marvel to Jesus. I’ll be honest, I read this book primarily to see what Heiser’s take on Stranger Things would be. From that angle, it’s fun. The book isn’t deep or profound, and if you have read anything from Heiser then you know what to expect.

He does deal with some angles that evangelicals and conservatives might not want to approach, mind control and spiritual warfare. Regarding mind control, I just want to link the info Heiser gives. Of course, if you have been aware of MK-ULTRA for some time, none of this is new.…

I always thought “the upside down” was a brilliant description of Sheol. Sheol/Hades isn’t a burning furnace, pace popular imagination. It is the realm of Death. It is where the Rephaim live.

Speaking of which, the section on spiritual warfare was quite good. He recaps his take on the Nephilim. Although Esau’s relatives killed off the Nephilim in Moab (Dt. 2:8-22), they were still in Bashan and Canaan (Dt 2:23-3:11; Num. 13:22, 28ff; Deut. 9:1-2; Josh. 11:21-22). God specifically targeted them in the invasion.

While the Bible doesn’t specifically say that demons are the spirits of the dead nephilim, we do have some clues. In the NT a demon is called an unclean spirit. Things that are unclean are improperly mixed. These spirits resulted from the improper mixing between man and heavenly beings

Disobedient Spirits and Christian Baptism

Reicke, Bo. Disobedient Spirits and Christian Baptism: A Study of 1 Peter III.19 and its Context. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005 [1943].

Bo Reicke’s monograph remains probably the definitive text on the descent of Christ to the underworld.  Although a critical scholar himself, Reicke understands the text to be about those spirits who rebelled around Noah’s time and are currently locked below Sheol.  Reicke’s work is extremely difficult, as he has long passages in Greek and Syriac that aren’t always translated.  Reader betware.

First problem:  What is the connection between 3:19 and 4:6?  In the history of exegesis, it was tempting for early fathers to conflate the two verses into referring to the same event.  An unfortunate result was something like universalism.  If it wasn’t universalism, it seemed to read the obedient fathers in the Old Testament as the disobedient spirits in prison, which also seemed wrong.

Another possibility, perhaps even more bizarre, is that these referred to disobedient Old Testament persons who were converted by the preaching of Christ (Reicke 27).

Athanasius: connects 3:19 with the traditional “descent” view (Ep. ad Epict, sect. 5).

Syriac tradition:  Standard Hollensturmung motif.  Quite lyrical poetry but nothing really new.

Augustine: Did not think 3:19 referred to the descensus ad infernos. He correctly notes that the text says nothing about the righteous dead.  To be sure, Christ did go down to the realm of the dead or underworld. So far Augustine’s interpretation is quite good.  He then says that the text means Christ appeared to the spiritually dead on earth, which is not what the text says. We can credit Augustine for intellectually separating the descent from 1 Pet. 3:19, but we cannot follow his allegorical interpretation of it.

Bellarmine:  Correctly notes that it refers to the underworld, but he tries to tie it in with Purgatory.  The same difficulties mentioned above apply here.

Scholastic Lutheranism: Correctly rejected the allegorical spiritualism of older Protestantism.  They saw it as Christ manifesting his power over defeated spirits (45).  This has the right idea but it seems forced onto the Noahic context.

Who are the Spirits in Verse 19?

The first observation is that the spirits are connected with the flood story itself (52). Noting that the two possibilities are either fallen angels or human souls, Reicke points out that pneumata is not used in the NT of living humans and phylake in the NT refers to a subterranean compartment (53).

Moreover, if Peter wanted to speak about the dead, he wouldn’t have used pneuma, but psyche (54).  On the other hand, after admitting there are some exceptional cases where pneuma could refer to a dead spirit, Reicke points out that in the literature men, Watchers, and giants are often lumped together.  Paul does the same thing with various categories of angels:  rulers, principalities, etc.

Reiki then goes into an extended analysis on the text of Enoch.  None of this was new to me, having been an adherent to the supernatural worldview for quite some time.  It’s good material, though.  His main argument is that the ideas of 1 Enoch were the background for 1-2 Peter and Jude.  We can say, “God inspired them.”  That is true.  He also inspired them with quotations from Enoch in the context of ‘the angels who sinned.’  

The point common to all passages–Jude/Peter, Enoch, and Genesis 6–is that the motif of Flood is tied with imprisoned spirits who sinned (73).

It’s rare to find a critical scholar give a perceptive analysis of spiritual warfare, but Reicke does just that.  He probably didn’t intend it, which makes it even more illuminating.  He notes that “the evil spirits, pneumata, who are the forms in which the Giants appear on the earth, are thought to belong not only to the past but also to the contemporary world” (79).

1 Cor. 11 is one example.  Anticipating modern scholarship, Reicke connects the Watchers with the angels.  Reicke: “It is difficult here to avoid thinking of the well-known account of how the angels in prehistoric times were lured by the physical beauty of the women on earth. It may be noticed that 1 Cor. xi is dealing with women as they exercise their cult and pray.  And then they were of course in a special way exposed to attack from higher beings like the Angels” (82).

Reicke also connects the Giants in Genesis 6 with the Rephaim (Josh. 13:12, Job 26:5, Isa. 14:9). Reicke suggests a connection not often made in the literature: the demons and/or giants are representatives of the Fallen Watchers (85).  Even if the Watchers are chained in Tartarus, they can still influence the world.  Most amillennialists believe Satan to be currently bound but still able to influence the world.

The final point is identifying Angels/Watchers/Fallen Angels with stars.  This seems fairly standard in the literature and is well-attested in Patristic literature (cf. Ephrem the Syrian). Stars are associated both with earthly kings and fallen Watchers.  There is a close parallel between the Book of Enoch and Isaiah 24:18-22.  This same language now fits quite easily with Jude’s condemnation of “wandering stars.”

Second problem: It’s hard to see how Noah could preach to the spirits in prison.  The text itself says the spirits were already in prison in the days of Noah (99).  If that is the case, then the “spirits” can’t be the ungodly who were watching Noah build the ark.  One possible explanation is that it was Christ preaching through Enoch. Reicke notes that the Greek doesn’t allow that possibility and so concludes that it was Christ preaching.  The question remains: why did Peter seem to tie this in with the Enoch narrative?

Christ is then a New Enoch.  That fits with biblical theology.  Christ is the second Adam, the Greater David, etc. The main clause is the ἐν ᾧ clause.  To whom or what does it refer? Reicke surveys the linguistic arguments on 104ff. 

Whatever else we may think of the esoteric elements of the passage, there is a more obvious question: why did Peter bring in the Noahic elements in the first place?  Most summaries of the gospel don’t include a descent to the shades in the underworld.

What is Baptism?

Peter wants to reject baptism as a mere washing away of dirt or a ritual ceremony (188).  Reicke’s comments are refreshing.  Rather than rehash debates over to what degree baptism saves or regenerates, Reicke keeps the discussion where the text does: in the context of the disobedient spirits who are behind heathen world powers.  Because of the resurrection, baptism gives Christians the freedom from fear of these powers (199).


The locus classicus for apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15.  Every apologetics ministry claims this verse.  If you place the verse within its larger context, you will see it has nothing to do with said ministries.  It is more about humility and freedom from the demon kings of the underworld.

Enoch Primordial

The second book in the Nephilim Chronicles is a sort of prequel.  Here are my thoughts, both what is good about the book and what needs to be developed.

The Good

His scope and vision is awe-inspiring.   He has laid the foundation for a biblical epic.  Granted, I don’t think it will get there, but still.  It’s a start.

He does a decent job in character development.  Not quite as sharp and profound as how he treated Noah in the previous novel, but still decent and better than most.

The novel moves at a sharp pace, and he does a good job of building suspense.

Needs to be developed

The dialogue between Methuselah and Edna grated somewhat.  The rest of the dialogue was okay.

The novel also risked “preaching” a bit. I have as militant a hatred of socialism and big, yet there were passages that seemed plucked from Milton Friedman. 

The series is still worth reading, aside from these points.

The Day the Earth Stands Still

by Gilbert and Peck.

More people believe in UFOs than in God.  Rather, more people believe in UFOs than in the traditional understanding of God. That is why there is an urgent need for Christians to give thoughtful, kind, yet firm responses to the UFO movement.  Sadly, most Christian responses are about as robust as the star children at Roswell. Derek Gilbert and Josh Peck help remedy this situation.

While the book has the same “feel” as Gilbert’s earlier Satan’s Psy-ops, it is less exegetical and more of a commentary on current events–at least at first. The later chapters are a gold mine of resources in response to Crowley, Jack Parsons (Scientology!), and H.P. Lovecraft.   In fact, we should spend some time on Lovecraft and Crowley.

While Lovecraft was a materialist, his fiction provided the grounds for later horror thinkers.  Here is where it gets spooky. Lovecraft wrote “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1927, with much of the action taking place in New Orleans. His characters call forth Cthulhu in an orgiastic celebration.  At the exact same time, with no prior knowledge, Crowley summons a demon named “Tutulu” or “Kutulu.” He wrote this on November 1, 1907, the exact time as Lovecraft’s story (44-45).

We’ll come back to Lovecraft.

One of the authors’ theses is that Science Fiction provided a vehicle to communicate “ET” ideas to the larger culture.  

A creepy episode is when members of America’s “9 Ruling Families” channeled a space demon.  I’ll explain. Andrija Puharich was a para-psychologist with connections to US government and various foundations.  He created a think tank whose members included Aldous Huxley and Henry Wallace, FDR’s Vice-President and a 32nd degree Freemason.  On New Year’s Even in 1952 Puharich contacted a Hindu channeler, Dr D. G. Vinod, who conducted a seance and made contact with an entity calling itself “The Nine” (82).

Nine months later another seance was conducted, this time including members from key American families: Marcella DuPont, Alice Bouverie (an Astor), Arthur Young (son-in-law of the Forbes family).

It gets weirder. Vinod had brought a statue of a monkey god named Hanoumn.

I only mention this because the elite of American life believe this stuff, believe they have contacted entities (probably what St Paul called archons).

The authors spend a lot of time on John Podesta’s wikileaks.  While Podesta is one of the creepiest humans on the planet, I don’t think there is a smoking gun regarding ETs.  He did push for ET disclosure under Obama, but as he was moving into the Clinton orbit that wasn’t important for him.  There are a lot of emails to Podesta on disclosure, but very few from him.  

The man is slick.  Think about it. We know the sumbitch is guilty on Pizzagate, yet he never faced judgment. Let’s be blunt: we aren’t going to get him on aliens.

Exoplanet Waterworlds and Chaotic Sea Monsters

Enuma Elish story. Tiamat’s son Enki kills Apsu (fresh water). Tiamat summons forces of chaos.

Baal Cycle.

Both Ps. 74 and Genesis 1 are creation psalms.  The former specifically echoes (and subverts) the Ugaritic Baal Cycle.  In all of these texts–Enuma Elish, Psalm 74, Baal Cycle–there is the question of who defeats the tehom (chaos; in Akkadian it would have been Temtum.  In Sumerian it would have been Tiamat).

The victory of creation is connected with the quelling of the waters.  This is relevant today since occultists follow the doctrine of “order out of chaos,” but not Yahweh’s order.

Leviathan and Behemoth in the End Time

* The Sea is no more.

* Leviathan is Sea-Chaos; Behemoth is Land-Chaos.

Are Evangelicals and Extraterrestrials Compatible?

Much of this chapter is a synthesis of Heiser’s writings on the Nephilim. The authors are flexible, though.  They lean towards the idea that the different ET “races” are likely demonic and/or fallen angels.

Image of God

Whatever imago dei means, it must include, per Genesis 1, the following (184-185):

  1. Both men and women are included.
  2. Divine image bearing is what makes humankind distinct from animals.
  3. It makes us “like God” in some way..
  4. There is nothing “potential” about it.  You either have it or you don’t.

If aliens are demons, couldn’t one argue that at least some aliens are angels?  Peck and Gilbert give a very interesting response to this. When mal’akim appear to man in Scripture, they always appear in humanoid form.  This rules out alien “races” such as Nordics, reptilians, and greys. While Nordics appear human, they never do what angels do. Angels don’t do probes and abductions!

(When Ezekiel sees the cherubim they are in the typical cherubic form: partly beast, four faces, etc.  This gives evidence that Cherubim aren’t really angels in the sense that we use the term).

Uncomfortable implications of the Ancient Aliens hypothesis (190-195).

* The gods were tasked with hard work, so they created humans to do it.

* humans aren’t image-bearers of these gods (which is probably a good thing).

* No evidence that there is anything beyond matter.

* According to the myths, the gods behave the same way as humans.

* The Anunnaki made some bloodlines superior.  Think of the racial implications.

* These aliens are creator-masters, not brothers.

* Unlike the bible, no one is destined to be kings.


Criticisms:  There were some editing problems.  The usual typos. In one appendix the author (Peck, I think) referenced Psalm 8 when he mentioned Proverbs 8.

Review of Michael Heiser, Demons

Heiser, Michael.  Demons.  Lexham Press.

I’ve been preparing this review for about 4 years.  True, Heiser’s book has only been out around a year or so, but I knew he would write this book and I wanted to be ready.  He does not disappoint.  It is the only book of its kind.  There are evangelical texts analyzing what the Bible teaches on demons, but they either repeat cliches or only engage with a surface level reading of the text.  Unger’s is good, but he doesn’t get to the heart of the matter.  Clinton Arnold’s work is fantastic, but only focused on the New Testament.  Heiser’s is one of the first that deal with the best of critical scholarship, yet from an evangelical standpoint.  

Demons and the Dead

Early OT language about the demonic overlaps with terms used for the realm of the dead.  The key concept is that of the Rephaim.  The Rephaim could be giants or shades of the dead (1 Chr. 20:4; Isa. 26:14; Job 26:5).  At least at death they are seen as “supernatural residents of the underworld” (Heiser, loc. Cit. 345).  They were part of the giant clans specifically targeted by Moses and Joshua (Deut. 3:11, 13; Josh. 12:4; 13:12).  They are linked to the Anakim (Deut. 2:10-11).  The Anakim, as you no doubt remember, descended from the Nephilim (Num. 13:33; Gen. 6:4).

Heiser later does linguistic analyses on “Spirits,” the ob, obot, oberim; “those who have passed over.” While there are locations such as Oboth and Abarim in the Transjordan, a tantalizing clue is given in Ezekiel 39:11, The Valley of the Travellers.”  Archeology has shown the remains of megalithic minutes referring to the dead and the underworld.

Knowing one: Deut. 18:9-14 condemns sorcery, which is no surprise.  One practice would have been “utilizing the services of so’el ob we-yiddeoni” (440).  Lev. 19:31 links these knowing ones with the spirits of the oboth (side point: the KJV is actually a better translation on this one).

Azazel.  One reason Azazel simply can’t be the goat offered in Leviticus 16 is that a goat is offered for Yahweh and another for Azazel.  Leviticus 17 gives a bit more information, as it mentions “goat demons.”  The key point is not that a sacrifice is being offered to a goat demon.  Rather, the sins of Israel are being banished outside of the holy realm.

Original Rebel

This is largely a recap from his earlier works dealing with the passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel.  He acknowledges that the passages originally address a human king.  The point, though, is that the prophet’s speech draws upon elements of a primeval rebellion.  Yes, he is talking to the king of Tyre/Babylon, but no one seriously believes the king of Tyre was in the garden of Eden at the beginning of time.

Some say it refers neither to angel nor king, but to Adam in the garden.  There are some weaknesses to that approach.  For one, Adam doesn’t appear anywhere in the texts.  Further, as Heiser notes, we would have to presume “things about Adam that are not in the Genesis episode of the fall” (loc. 1497). Nor do we have any evidence that Adam ever served in the divine council or fancied himself a god.

As to the figure being thrown down to “earth,” Heiser notes places where eretz can mean the underworld (Jonah 2:6) “where ancient warrior-kings await their comrades in death” (Ezek. 32.21, 24-3o).  The divine rebel was sent to the realm of the dead, the underworld.

Satan in Second Temple Judaism

Interestingly enough, Azazel in 1 Enoch functions as the Satan figure.  The OT really didn’t make an overt identification between the Serpent and Satan.  The Serpent was seen as God’s arch-enemy, but as satan was more of a common noun, few made the connection.  This connection, however, is clearly seen by the time of the NT writers.

On the other hand, Azazel could function as the leader of the Watchers (Gen. 6:1-4; 1 En. 8:1).  On the other hand, Azazel is the tenth fallen angel listed, so he probably isn’t the leader.

While the name Belial never refers to a personal being in the OT, it clearly does in the NT. How would NT writers and readers have made the connection?  They did so by means of the intertestamental worldview (Martyr. Is. 2.4; 4.2, etc).  By the time of the NT Belial is more or less the same as “Satan.”

Demons in Second Temple Judaism

This chapter summarizes largely technical concepts and reception of texts like 1 Enoch in the intertestamental period. The one new point that I noticed was his reference to the 3rd century African bishop Commodianus (ch. 3) who linked “the disembodied existence of the giants after their death” to the existence of demons.  Does the Bible, though, say this?  Not directly, but it does give a hint that any early reader would have seen. The Rephaim lived in the underworld and were the spirits of warrior-kings.

Third Divine Rebellion: Chaos in the Nations

As in his earlier works, he links the Tower of Babel incident with the “Deuteronomy 32 worldview.”  I won’t repeat the arguments here. One question that always comes up with his take on Psalm 82 is “when” did this happen?  When did God decide to judge the corrupt elohim?  The Bible doesn’t directly say.

Cosmic Geography

Deut. 32:9 says Israel is Yahweh’s portion and “his allotted heritage.”  With reference to Azazel, deserts are often thought to be the realm of demons (something the early church echoed).  When David has to leave Israel, he says he has been “driven away from the inheritance of Yahweh” (1 Sam. 26:19).

Daniel 10:13, 20 gives the clearest, if briefest reference to cosmic geography.

The Devil and His Angels

If the Hebrew term shaitan was ambiguous, the Greek term Satanos is not.  It clearly refers to the arch-rebel.  It is interesting, however, that “Beelzebub,” the god of Ekron (2 Kgs 1:2-3) is now identified with Satanos. On the other hand, the lemma ba’al in the name could refer back to a more generic Hebrew reading, meaning prince on high, referring to Satan’s leadership.

It is not arbitrary that the devil tempts Jesus in the wilderness, as that is the home of Azazel and Lillith.

What is a demon?

One problem is that we think we already know what this term means.  The fact that we don’t connect biblical dots and that we get our theology from post-Catholic pop culture only makes it worse.  This lets Jungian gnostics and others reinterpret demon as “dark psyche” within all of us.  And if you get your theology from pop culture, it’s hard to argue with them.

A demon is an evil spirit (Matt. 8:31). It’s also called “an unclean spirit.”  Note that it is not called a fallen angel.  Unclean spirit is far more precise and calls the reader back to how “clean/unclean” functioned in a biblical worldview.  Something is unclean when it is an unnatural mixture and/or was in contact with dead corpses (hint: Nephilim).

The Ruling Powers

Paul’s language of “rulers, principalities, powers, dominions, thrones, world rulers” echoes the Deuteronomy 32 worldview.  These are geographical terms. While they sometimes denote physical rulers, Ephesians 6:12, linking them to heavenly places, makes that impossible here.


Heiser correctly notes that a Christian can’t be “possessed” by a demon.  He also points out that possession is the wrong word, in any case.  He also rebuts the Peter Wagner school of Strategic Level Warfare Ministry.  Wagner correctly notes that the bible speaks of cosmic geography.  The problem is that the NT authors never seem interested in casting out lieutenant demons before getting to the generals.

I agree with Heiser that the NT never lists exorcism as a weapon to use; the fact of the matter is that the NT does use it.  But in any case, neither Heiser nor I would sanction the bizarre types of exorcism seen in Roman Catholic culture.  The best antidote to demonic activity is simply spiritual hygiene.

Some Criticisms

While the book is easily the best of its kind, it does run into a few difficulties. There is a lot of repetition in this book, both from his earlier works and from within this work.  Some of that can’t be helped.  He assumes–with reason–that not all readers will have been familiar with his earlier works.  That said, if you have read his earlier works then you more or less know the arguments relating to Enoch, apkallu, and the like.  

That’s not to say there is no new material in the book. There is, and it is good.  

Last Clash of the Titans

Gilbert, Derek P. The Last Clash of the Titans. Defender Publishing, 2018.

Derek Gilbert’s unique skill is in summarizing the very difficulty academic scholarship and placing it in a template that a) makes sense for the reader and b) puts the reader on an eschatological “high alert.”

Study notes here:

Idols were lifeless.  That’s the point.  They functioned, rather, as an antenna. 

Chapter 1: Background

Gilbert quickly goes over the Nephilim thesis, including the faulty reading of Genesis 6.  If this merely refers to the line of Seth, and not to semi-divine beings, then why: a) did they produce giants and b) why were all the Sethite boys good and the Cainite girls bad? c) how did good boys and bad girls produce giants? (Gilbert  loc. 144).

Further, as Gilbert notes, the two surviving sons are mentioned “nowhere in Genesis 6, so reading Seth and Cain into an interpretation” is eisegesis. Appealing to Jesus’s passage in Matt. 22:30 only dodges the hard question.  Jesus was talking about procreation, and he said they only couldn’t do it in heaven. When angels, for lack of a better word, get to earth they can do human things.

Chapter 2: Gods of the Amorites

Mountain cosmology: “the mount of assembly of the divine rebel in Eden is the holy mountain of the Caananite storm god” (1206).  It is Mt. Zaphon, today’s mountain Jebel al-Aqra.

Rephaim: Lords of the Corpse

The etymology of the Rephaim is difficult to discern.  On one hand the lemma rp can simply denote healer and is sometimes used of Yahweh (cf Michael L. Brown, Israel’s Divine Healer). In terms of spiritual warfare (and the Canaanite invasion) it has a darker background.  Some Rephaim were kings, such as Og and Sihon.  Other times they are described as spirits of the dead (Job 26.5; Ps. 88.10).

Isaiah 14 links the Rephaim to Baal and Gog.  It describes the shades (rapha) as rising to greet Lucifer (or he who inhabited Mt. Zaphon, more on that later).

Mt. Zaphon (tsaphon) is in what biblical writers called “the far north,” modern day Syria.  Since that marked the northern end of an invasion route, it made sense to see it as the far north.  It is in the area of Bashan and Hermon, the location to which the fallen Watchers descended and the gate to the underworld.

Chapter 4: From Mesopotamia to Greece

In Greek mythology the Titan Kronos was sent to Tartarus.  Gilbert makes clear this isn’t simply another word for Hades.  Peter knew that term and used it elsewhere (Acts 2:27, 30).  This was a specific place for the “angels who sinned” (who 1 Enoch calls the Watchers and the Mesopotamians call the apkallu; the Greeks call them the Titans).  This means, quite obviously, that fallen angels aren’t demons, since demons are anywhere but the abyss/Tartarus when we see them in the gospels.

It is Gilbert’s argument that the Rephaim “are the demigod sons of the Watchers” (67).

Gilbert points out that in Ugaritic/Amorite cosmology, it took three days for the dead Rephaim to respond to the summoning ritual (KTU 1.21.ii: 1-7).  While we don’t know much about the ontology of the netherworld, we do know that Jesus proclaimed (not preached) to spirits in prison.  Further, Peter mentions these spirits in prison in connection with Noah, referring back to Genesis 6 (and forever demolishing the Sethite thesis). 


Gilbert skillfully dismantles the claim that Gog = Russia.  The Hebrew rosh refers to Gog as a prince, not to Rosh as a place, which some take to be Russia.  Even though the text mentions “the uttermost parts of the north,” to an Israelite this would have been obvious by its very name: tsaphon.  It would have been Mt. Zaphon. The names Ezekiel gives are all in present-day Turkey.  Even more, the war will “bring fire on Magog’s coastlands. Russia has never been a coastal power.

Therefore, we aren’t looking at a geographical north, but a cosmic north (Gilbert 120).  This war is between Mt Zaphon and Mt Zion–it is a “supernatural war for control of the mount of assembly, the har mo’ed (122).

So who is Gog?  The location puts him/it in Turkey, seeming to make him an Islamic leader.  That might not be right, though.  The language of the war is spiritual, located in the cosmic north on the slopes of Mt. Zaphon.  Gilbert doesn’t think he is Baal, though, even though we are at the location of Baal’s mountain.  Gog is Antichrist, which means he can’t be Lucifer or Baal.

Valley of the Travelers

This is the neatest part of the book.  I think there is sufficient evidence to see the Rephaim as the spirits of dead kings, probably Nephilim.  They are currently in the underworld.  Ezekiel 39:11, having documented Yahweh’s slaughter of Gog’s forces, talks about blocking the valley of the Travellers.  This valley is “east of the Sea,” which Gilbert posits as east of the Dead Sea.

The Hebrew word for traveller is oberim, based on ‘br.  It means to “pass from one side to the other.”  What Gilbert is arguing is that it means to pass from one plane of existence to another.  Numbers 21:10-11) mentions the Israelites camping at Oboth and Iye-abarim opposite Moab. Oboth derives from ‘ob, “which refers to summoning spirits of the dead” (Tropper, J. “Spirit of the Dead.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.) (Leiden; Boston; Koln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans), p. 806).

This is the same area where Moses was buried in, “a place where the Rephaim spirits reputedly crossed over to the land of the living. Is that why Satan, lord of the dead, thought he had a right to claim the body of Moses after his death” (Gilbert132)?  This is the same area where Israel was ensnared by Baal Peor.  Peor means “open wide” (Spronk, K. “Baal of Peor.”  In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.) (Leiden; Boston; Koln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans), p. 147).  He is the lord of the entrance to the underworld. 

But does this actually prove the Rephaim were the Travellers in view?  According to ancient texts, probably.  Ugaritic texts specifically referred to the Rephaim as “travellers” (KTU 1.22 ii, 20-27; I, 15).  In connection with Ezekiel, these spirits are going to be at Har Mo’ed.

One of the problems with Armageddon taking place at Megiddo is that Jesus is supposed to land at the Mount of Olives, which is more than fifty miles away.

Gilbert ends by identifying Antichrist as the Chaos figure (Tiamat, Leviathan, Typhon).  Interestingly enough, Irenaeus said Antichrist would be a Titan (Adv. Haer. V.30).

This is not an academic text, but Gilbert has marshaled the best scholarship and we, the readers, are given the opportunity of evaluating the evidence.  On several new points, while not intending to be a scholarly text, Gilbert has broken fresh ground.