Saturday, June 12, 2010

Angels & Demons 12: Angels Cannot Engage in Sex

By far, the most famous Fallen Angel Story in all of literature is the story of angels who married human women and had children. In his article on angels in Judaism in the Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, volume V, page 80, J. Michl reports that, in Judaism, the angels were created free of moral decision-making capacity. He does however point out that they were fallible, citing Job 4:18 and 15:15. These two passages do not charge angels with sin, but they do charge angels with making mistakes—suggesting that they were not infallible. Was having sex with humans one of those areas in which angels were fallible? The literature between the Old Testament and New Testament certainly seems to make that claim. Michl lists the following texts that claim that some angels sinned--as the authors of these texts formed their opinions, based on Genesis 6, that angels had sexual unions with human wives:

Jubilees 4.22, 5.1, 7.21, and 10.5,
I Enoch 6f., 12.4, 15, 69.2-4, 84.4, and 86.1-6,
II Enoch 18.3-5, and (possibly) 7.1-3,
Testament of Ruben 5.6,
Testament of Naphtali 3.4,
Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch 56.12,
Damaskusschriften 3.4,
Philo, On the Giants 6,
Josephus, Antiquities 1.31, and
The Testament of Solomon 5:3.

As is easily seen, the story of sexual angels was a popular one, in the Hellenistic Period. There is an abundance of literature written after the Old Testament on this subject—so much, in fact, that the composer of the “Innocent Fallen Angel Story” I have been citing in these commentaries was, no doubt, familiar with the subject. That composer found it important enough to include the idea of sexuality in his Fallen Angel Story. It is not quite clear in the “Innocent Fallen Angel Story” whether, if the young girl were willing to consummate the sexual union, it would have even been possible. The proceedings never reached that stage, and (so far as this account is concerned) the angels were never again accused of making such a proposal. Herein lies part of the ingenuity of the “Innocent Fallen Angel Story.” Without totally disavowing the potential for angelic-human sexual intercourse, it nevertheless concludes that such an occurrence never came about. It appears to be a link between the popular (legendary) Fallen Angel Story and the official angelology of the rabbis. The Jewish rabbis of the New Testament period, on the whole, stood solidly on the contention that the “Fallen Angel Story” from I Enoch and others cited above was unacceptable, because angels had no sexual capacity.

The Testament of Solomon, the final text listed by Michl, was actually written sometime between 100 and 400 a.d. That work claims that all angels (not just fallen ones) have sexual capacity. It alludes to the Sexual Fallen Angel Story when it says: “You, on the one hand, are the son of a man, but I, of an angel, and by a daughter of man was I born.” Louis Ginzberg comments: “The Testament of Solomon, though containing a great many Jewish elements, is on the whole of a strongly syncretistic character. The pagan element is obvious in the fact that the angels (not only the fallen ones) are made to have offspring.” This is neither Jewish nor Christian, but pagan.” The rabbis and the New Testament writers stayed away from this teaching.

As Bamberger points out on page 90 of his book Fallen Angels: “The Talmud NEVER speaks of fallen or rebel angels. This is no accident; nor were the rabbis ignorant of the legend. They knew and suppressed it.” In other words, the Sexual Fallen Angel Story was intentionally subverted by the rabbis. Only a few brief references to the Sexual Fallen Angel tradition remain. In the New Testament, as I have indicated in previous commentaries, three of the gospels quote Jesus as teaching that angels neither marry nor give in marriage. Even in the LONE New Testament passage that suggests that angels could have “sinned” (II Peter 2:4), the idea is only presented in a CONDITIONAL clause—“IF God did not spare sinning angels.” And EVEN THERE, there is no mention of the SEXUAL Fallen Angel Story. Like the rabbis, the author of II Peter (along with his audience) knew the legend, and the writer suppressed it. In the parallel passage in Jude 6, the angels are NOT EVEN ACCUSED OF SINNING. They are accused only of “abandon[ing] their proper dwelling.” Like the rabbis, the author of Jude (and his audience) knew the legend and the writer suppressed it. So intent upon suppressing the Sexual Fallen Angel Story were the New Testament writers and early scribes that the name Enoch may have even been intentionally expunged from I Peter 3:19, as I discussed in a previous commentary. Neither the rabbis nor the New Testament writers support the Sexual Fallen Angel Story. But, does the Old Testament support the Sexual Fallen Angel Story? I will discuss the Genesis 6 passage on its own merits, next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment