Titans and Nephilim in the Bible and greek mythology

2 Peter, Jude and Genesis 6:1-4

In spite of the general impression that the former texts indeed refer to Genesis 6:1-4, it is not obvious. Especially because the abandonment of a home is clearly mentioned here, while Genesis 6: 1-2 does not say anything like that.

When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The Sons of God (angels in 2 Peter and Jude) left their home and intermarried with human women. The moment of moving from heaven to earth is not mentioned but it is assumed. Interestingly, in Genesis 6:1-4 there is not any notion of putting those sinful angels or the sons of God into prison. That is however sustained by Jude and Peter who probably refer to that incident. Some reminiscence of it is also present in 1 Cor 11:10, where Paul explains that women shall cover their heads because of the angels. He does not say anything more but apparently the story of sons of God tempted by the beautiful image of women was perfectly known. Jan Anchimiuk gives a parallel from the Testament of Ruben (Testaments of XII Patriarchs): ‘Command your daughters and wives not to make beautiful their heads and faces. Because each wife cheating on his husband will be punished, as it was them who seduced guards before the deluge’.[16] 2 Peter 2:4 locates the sin of the angels right before the Deluge which chronologically matches the story from Genesis 6:1-4. Indirectly, 1 Enoch, which tells the full story, as we can assume, and 2 Peter 2:4 which is dependent on 1 Enoch, together prove that 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 allude to Genesis 6:1-4.


We have just seen that 2 Peter 2:4 uses vocabulary that comes from the Theogony to describe an ancient legend of the fall of angels. Jude 6 simultaneously does the same, but uses Jewish sources. 1 Enoch in turn is proven to be somehow dependent on the Theogony. It is beyond question that 1 Enoch builds its story on events taken from Genesis 6:1-4 and retells it similarly to the Theogony. Although indirectly, 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 both refer to Genesis 6:1-4, which now becomes our biggest concern.

[1] Carl R. Holladay, A Critical Introduction to the New Testament, Nashville: Abingdon Press (2005), p. 731.

[2] Jonathan J. Pennington (ed.), Cosmology and New Testament Theology, London: T & T Clark (2008), p. 166.

[3] But the very first time in the Old Testament ταρταρόω occurs in Greek translation (LXX) of Job 41:32: “τὸν δὲ τάρταρον τῆς ἀβύσσου ὥσπερ αἰχμάλωτον ἐλογίσατο ἄβυσσον εἰς περίπατον”. LXX was used by Israelites in New Testament times. Also in of LXX Job 40.20 (Tartarus is a ‘deep’ place); 41.24 (‘Tartarus of the abyss’ as a place for prisoners) and Prov. 30.16 (the ‘abyss’ and Tartarus).

[4] Pennington, Cosmology, p. 166.

[5] Pennington, Cosmology, p. 190.

[6] Birger A. Pearson, A Reminiscence of a Classical Myth at II Peter 2.4, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 10:1 (1969), p. 79.

[7] Craig A. Evans, Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation, Hendrickson Publishers (1992), p. 23.

[8] R. Rubinkiewicz, Die Eschatologie von Henoch 9-11 und das Neue Testament, ÖBS 6

(1984), pp. 128-33.

[9] Bradley S. Billings, The Angels who Sinned… He Cast into Tartarus’ (2 Peter 2:4): Its Ancient meaning and Present Relevance, Expository Times (2008), p. 533.

[10] J. Daryl Charles, The Angels under Reserve in 2 Peter and Jude, Bulletin for Biblical Research 15.1 (2005), p. 47.

[11] Walter M. Dunnett, The Hermeneutics of Jude and 2 Peter, The Journal of Theological Evangelical Society 31.3 (1988), p. 291.

[12] In R.H. Charles translation: R.H. Charles (ed.), The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Oxford: The Clarendon Press (1913).

[13] In Hugh G. Evelyn-White’s translation: Hesiod, Theogony, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White <http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hesiod/theogony.htm> [accessed 13/11/2011].

[14] Pearson, A Reminiscence, p. 75; J. Daryl Charles, The Angels under Reserve in 2 Peter and Jude, Bulletin for Biblical Research 15.1 (2005), p. 46; Bradley S. Billings, ‘The Angels who Sinned… He Cast into Tartarus’ (2 Peter 2:4): Its Ancient meaning and Present Relevance, Expository Times (2008), p. 535.

[15] Margaret Barker, Some Reflections upon the Enoch Myth,  Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 15, (1980), p. 14.

[16] Ruben 5 translated by J. Anchimiuk In: Jan Anchimiuk, Aniołów Sądzić Będziemy, Warsaw: Chrześcijańska Akademia Teologiczna (1981), p. 91.