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Author Topic: Aren't we all sons and daughters of God?  (Read 2323 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 22, 2005, 01:51:15 AM »

This might seem like a really stupid question, but I have never really sat down and read the bible, even though I know I should, so I decided to start tonight, and what better place to start than Genesis? Well...... Genesis chapter six verse four says that the sons of God bore children with the daughters of men, I don't really understand, I thought we were all sons and daughters of God? Didn't we all come from Adam and Eve?
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2005, 04:42:36 AM »

The "sons of God" is usually taken as a reference to Angels. This is a good illustration of the benefits of reading the scriptures "with the mind of the Church". ie have a sound commentary or study Bible with you when you read. That way you don't have to struggle with questions for which answers already exist
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2005, 04:57:56 AM »

So according to what you just said, Genesis 6:4 is saying that angels bore children with daughters of men? How would that even be possible? I am not trying to be rude, I just don't understand.
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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2005, 08:11:08 AM »

The "sons of God" is usually taken as a reference to Angels. This is a good illustration of the benefits of reading the scriptures "with the mind of the Church". ie have a sound commentary or study Bible with you when you read. That way you don't have to struggle with questions for which answers already exist

I would argue that there does not exist a sound biblical commentary. There are good Patristic commentaries, but you must always be aware of their biases, e.g. St. John of Chrysostom has great biblical commentaries, but he's an Antiochian and the bias of the School of Antioch permeates his his writings, and they should be take in such a manner. On the other hand there are the excellent commentaries of Origen, written from the allegorical Alexandrian posistion, which I personally prefer; however, one must be careful with these as well, for from time to time one will come accross some philosophical or theological principle that was Anathematized at the Fifth Oecumenical Synod, one of the difficulties with reading and using the works of people who are technically heretics, even though these works may be substantially better, and dare I say more Orthodox in general, than what many saints wrote. As far as the modern commentaries, they are all influenced by modern emperical schools of thought, hence being comprable to the approach of a 'Skeptical Antiochian,' and even the supposedly Orthodox commentaries in the Orthodox Study Bible are not without their problems, clearly subject to excessive influence from protestant exegetical schools. Thus, I would say that one does not need a commentary to read the Scriptures, it may end up doing more bad than good, Read the Scriptures but also read St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, et cetera; that's really the only way to read scripture in the 'conscienceness of the Church,' there really are no short cuts.

So according to what you just said, Genesis 6:4 is saying that angels bore children with daughters of men? How would that even be possible? I am not trying to be rude, I just don't understand.

The most common historical exegesis for this passage is that fallen angels from heaven, i.e. demons, came down to earth and bore children with the daughters of men, thus creating a demonic offspring...it is amongst the explanations for why the earth became so corrupted and necessitated the Flood. So I guess that one of the corollary implications is that angels can mate if they so desire, but it is contrary to nature and the outcome will only be negative. Now if we were to delve into possible allegorical interpretations, this verse could probably be discussed endlessly.
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2005, 08:19:57 AM »

the interresting thing is  why they ask Enoch to intervene for them...  but that's in the book of enoch not Genesis...
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2005, 08:44:11 AM »

Nowhere in scripture are the angels referred to as sons of God. The sons of God mentioned in Genesis are the sons of Seth, whereas the sons of men were the sons* of Cain (cf St. John Chrysostom). Can you guess why the scripture makes this distinction?

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* replace sons of Cain with daughters of Cain
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2005, 08:56:33 AM »

The sons of God mentioned in Genesis are the sons of Seth, whereas the sons of men were the sons of Cain (cf St. John Chrysostom).

This is also my understanding.
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2005, 11:06:44 AM »

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Nowhere in scripture are the angels referred to as sons of God.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (Job 1:6)

The older the sources one looks at (both Christian and Judaic) for commentary on the events described in Genesis chapter six, the more unanimous the opinion expressed that the nephilim described therein were the offspring of mortal women and angels.ÂÂ  Later on, for various reasons, this view fell out of favour - first with rabbinical authorities, and then later amongst Christians.ÂÂ  From what I've read, the view of the "sons of God" being the descendents of Seth amongst Christians began with Julius Africanus, and was popularized by St.Augustine of Hippo.

I'm of the opinion that this is later, more formalized angeology leading the interpretation of Scripture by the nose, rather than vice versa - it seems pretty clear in context, and from other passages in the Bible (both Old and New Testament) what Genesis 6 is in fact talking about.

What is doubly interesting, is that the view these were already fallen spirits ("demons") that apparently mixed it up with the ladies of earth, is an even later synthesis - since the early Christian and Judaic interpreters of Genesis 6 did not entertain this idea at all, but rather held these were angels who transgressed and thereafter fell by way of coupling with human women.

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But if this idea take possession of some one that if we acknowledge God as our helper, we should not, as we say, be oppressed and persecuted by the wicked; this, too, I will solve. God, when He had made the whole world, and subjected things earthly to man, and arranged the heavenly elements for the increase of fruits and rotation of the seasons, and appointed this divine law--for these things also He evidently made for man--committed the care of men and of all things under heaven to angels whom He appointed over them. But the angels transgressed this appointment. and were captivated by love of women, and begat children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and the punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness. Whence also the poets and mythologists, not knowing that it was the angels and those demons who had been begotten by them that did these things to men, and women, and cities, and nations, which they related, ascribed them to god himself, and to those who were accounted to be his very offspring, and to the offspring of those who were called his brothers, Neptune and Pluto, and to the children again of these their offspring. For whatever name each of the angels had given to himself and his children, by that name they called them. (St.Justin Martyr, Second Apology, Chapter V)

All of this btw., makes comprehensible something St.Paul says in his first epistle to the Corinthians...

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Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head,ÂÂ  but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head--it is the same as if her head were shaven. ... That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. (1st Corinthians 11:4-5, 10)

From what I've read, the interpretation of Gen. 6 which renders "sons of God" to "sons of Seth" is a stretch, but one indulged because of a view which held that angels are entirely spiritual and not in anyway material/corporeal which would seem to be necessary if they were able to interbreed with human women.ÂÂ  IOW, it tries to defend a conclusion which simply never occured to the hand which committed Gen. 6 to papyrus/parchment/whatever in the first place.

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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2005, 10:07:19 PM »

Nowhere in scripture are the angels called sons of God.

6 Now there was a day when the angels of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (LXX Job 1:6)

Also the angels did not fall because of lust for women, which is stupid even to imagine, first because their nature does not allow for such desires and then seeing the Glory of God who in his right mind will turn his gaze to anything else, except the prideful thought of placing one in the place of God, which was the reason of their fall. And don't forget that they are immaterial, which allows no room even to argue whether they had compatible DNA so as to produce offspring as if - btw - angels have gender... see how many problems are there?

Btw the above is not my opinion but some of the points (excluding the DNA) which St. John Chrysostoms argues in his commentary in Genesis to overturn the "mythologies" and "blasphemous words" as he calls them concerning the "sons of God" being angels.

icxn

PS. Daniel the prophet though righteous and holy almost fainted from fear when he saw an angel and you think that those women would have had the strenght not only to behold but also to engage in intercourse with those creatures? They would have died of fear!
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2005, 11:59:42 PM »

Ok, we all seem to think that the fathers were in complete agreement on this issue, or that there is a clear cut answer; fortunately or unfortunately, like with most issues, neither is the case. As I really don't feel like debating the issue of exegesis too deeply I'm going to post a website, I suggest you look at the tables, they are most useful in considering this issue.

 http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter5.htm
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2005, 02:28:17 AM »

Hi all!

Please allow me to add a[n orthodox] Jewish point-of-view. First, there is no tradition whatsoever in Judaism of angels mating en masse with human beings; this is not a Jewish perspective.

The (original Hebrew) word for "God" (as in "sons of God") used in Genesis 6:1-4 is Elokim; in our traditions, Elokim is not so much a name of God as it is a title denoting His might and power.

Elokim is used in Exodus 21:6, 22:8 and 22:28 in reference to human beings, i.e. judges. In each of these instances, we believe that the correct translation/understanding of the Hebrew elokim is "judges." Here it is used to denote mighty & powerful people, in these 3 cases, judges.

We understand the usage of bnei ("sons of") elokim in Genesis 6:1-4 as also referring to the sons of mighty & powerful people, i.e. rulers, aristocrats, lords, etc., and understand the passage to mean that the sons of wealthy & powerful families were arrogantly & violently seizing women from the lower classes according to their whims & urges.

But figuratively, we are most certainly"sons of God":

Quote
Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us?
(Malachi 2:4)

Our Sages teach that the Bible shows all of humanity descending from one couple so that none may say to his fellow, "I come from nobler stock than you."

Howzat?

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2005, 08:46:23 AM »

The (original Hebrew) word for "God" (as in "sons of God") used in Genesis 6:1-4 is Elokim; in our traditions, Elokim is not so much a name of God as it is a title denoting His might and power.

Elokim is used in Exodus 21:6, 22:8 and 22:28 in reference to human beings, i.e. judges. In each of these instances, we believe that the correct translation/understanding of the Hebrew elokim is "judges." Here it is used to denote mighty & powerful people, in these 3 cases, judges.

We understand the usage of bnei ("sons of") elokim in Genesis 6:1-4 as also referring to the sons of mighty & powerful people, i.e. rulers, aristocrats, lords, etc., and understand the passage to mean that the sons of wealthy & powerful families were arrogantly & violently seizing women from the lower classes according to their whims & urges.

I'm confused.  How is Elokim, related to or different than, Adinoi (sp?) or say Hashem?
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« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2005, 09:20:04 AM »

Ok, we all seem to think that the fathers were in complete agreement on this issue, or that there is a clear cut answer; fortunately or unfortunately, like with most issues, neither is the case. As I really don't feel like debating the issue of exegesis too deeply I'm going to post a website, I suggest you look at the tables, they are most useful in considering this issue.

 http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter5.htm

I wouldn't trust that comparison. Many of those listed are not Church Fathers and then St. Augustine for example does not support the view that they were angels as they have him listed:

"But that those angels were not angels in the sense of not being men, as some suppose, Scripture itself decides, which unambiguously declares that they were men. For when it had first been stated that "the angels of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose," it was immediately added, "And the Lord God said, My Spirit shall not always strive with these men, for that they also are flesh." For by the Spirit of God they had been made angels of God, and sons of God; but declining towards lower things, they are called men, a name of nature, not of grace; and they are called flesh, as deserters of the Spirit, and by their desertion deserted [by Him]." (City of God 15:22-23)

Mind you I 've only looked up St. Augustine, just to make sure and as you can see, those people don't understand what they read.

'Ερρωσθε

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« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2005, 11:05:26 AM »

The 'Sons of God" refers to righteous men or as MBZ says men with the power of God - NOT angels.  The latter view is blasphemy.
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« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2005, 11:41:37 AM »

ixcn,

Quote
Nowhere in scripture are the angels called sons of God.

6 Now there was a day when the angels of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (LXX Job 1:6)

Well, now you're just making my argument for me - that the translators of the Septuagint decided to translate ben 'elohiym as angelos makes the matter pretty clear - since in Genesis 6 it's the same ben 'elohiym that we read about as in Gen. 6, both in terms of what the Hebrew says and what the context and archaic interpretation dictates.

Quote
Also the angels did not fall because of lust for women, which is stupid even to imagine, first because their nature does not allow for such desires and then seeing the Glory of God who in his right mind will turn his gaze to anything else, except the prideful thought of placing one in the place of God, which was the reason of their fall.

I'd agree that later conventional angeology would make the idea hard to accept, but it seems pretty clear from early Christian writings (which include indesputable fathers, like St.Justin Martyr who I cited), and pre-Christian Jewish sources like the apocryphal Enochian books that this was a pretty standard view at one time.

Quote
Btw the above is not my opinion but some of the points (excluding the DNA) which St. John Chrysostoms argues in his commentary in Genesis to overturn the "mythologies" and "blasphemous words" as he calls them concerning the "sons of God" being angels.

With all due respect to St.John, he's wrong for characterizing this as a "blasphemous view" - unless we are to take the likes of St.Justin Martyr, St.Irenaus, etc. as being "blasphemers".

Quote
PS. Daniel the prophet though righteous and holy almost fainted from fear when he saw an angel and you think that those women would have had the strenght not only to behold but also to engage in intercourse with those creatures? They would have died of fear!

...and Abraham and Tobit sat with angels, ate with them, etc. and didn't seem the slightest bit terrified (in fact, it's not even clear that they knew right away who their angelic guests in fact were.)  IOW, it would seem pretty clear that these creatures can assume forms which are deceptively benign.

Quote
I wouldn't trust that comparison.

Well, then read the citations that this website GreekIsChristian linked to provides - I don't think you have to trust anybody in this.

Quote
Many of those listed are not Church Fathers and then St. Augustine for example does not support the view that they were angels as they have him listed:

Ah yes, but there were those amongst those cited who definately were Church Fathers.  What is also pretty clear, is that the "sons of Seth" interpretation is relatively late, and doesn't become the predominant view amongst Christians until well into the fourth century.  IOW, it's hardly surprising that St.Augustine and other later writers (like St.John Chrysostom) supported the views that they did.  Why this change in perspective occured is a matter of speculation - I'd suggest it had to do with the various angeologies which had become popular by that time, which included a definition of their materiality (or lack thereof) which did not allow for the scenario that Genesis 6 seems to be indicating (and which early Christian and Judaic works clearly understood as being a case of angels falling from grace due to lust.)


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« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2005, 11:58:04 AM »

MBZ,

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Please allow me to add a[n orthodox] Jewish point-of-view. First, there is no tradition whatsoever in Judaism of angels mating en masse with human beings; this is not a Jewish perspective.

If you qualified that by saying it's not a modern, halachic Jewish perspective, I'd agree with you.  However, it's pretty clear that early "common era" Jewish sources and apocrphyal Jewish works like the Enochian books demonstrate that it was at one time the dominant view amongst Jews.

Quote
We understand the usage of bnei ("sons of") elokim in Genesis 6:1-4 as also referring to the sons of mighty & powerful people, i.e. rulers, aristocrats, lords, etc., and understand the passage to mean that the sons of wealthy & powerful families were arrogantly & violently seizing women from the lower classes according to their whims & urges.

This seems to be stretching though - an attempt to force a latter view into an older text.  If this is what the text intended to convey, then it was phrased in an incredibly poor and misleading way.

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« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2005, 04:18:55 PM »

Hi all!

Well, it's 23:02 on Saturday evening here in the Jerusalem 'burbs.  Da Boyz are Zzzzz & DW is watching about Rita on TV.  I've gotta be awake at least for another 1.5 hours.  Ashkenazi Jews like myself start saying special penitential/confessional prayers (http://www.jewfaq.org/elul.htm#Selichot) tonight ahead of our 2-day New Year holyday (http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday2.htm) that starts at sunset on October 3.  They're usually said before morning prayers but on the first night (as on the night before the first day of the New Year holyday) the custom is to say them at midnight (i.e. when the dark hours are half over; here that's 00:20).  So, I thank you all for helping to keep me awake & semi-coherent.

SouthSerb99, you posted:

Quote
I'm confused.  How is Elokim, related to or different than, Adinoi (sp?) or say Hashem?

A-donai/oi is a euphemism for God, for the Tetragrammaton, that literally means "My Master".  However, even though it's only a euphemism, a Jew is not supposed to say it except when actually reciting a blessing, reading from Scripture, etc.  Hashem literally means "The Name" & is the common euphemism used in everyday speech.

Augustine, you posted:

Quote
However, it's pretty clear that early "common era" Jewish sources and apocrphyal Jewish works like the Enochian books demonstrate that it was at one time the dominant view amongst Jews.

Hmm, I think that we've had this conversation before.  Deviant/heretical views are neither authoritative nor representative of normative Judaism.  The Enochian books are not scripture for us.

Quote
If this is what the text intended to convey, then it was phrased in an incredibly poor and misleading way.

No, like the examples I gave from Exodus, it simply illustrates that Elokim (unlike the Tetragrammaton or E-l) doesn't refer to God ever time it's used.

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2005, 12:30:20 AM »

MBZ,

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Hmm, I think that we've had this conversation before.  Deviant/heretical views are neither authoritative nor representative of normative Judaism.  The Enochian books are not scripture for us.

Well, that would ultimatly be an argument from authority - and it should be obvious by now, we don't accept the same authorities.  Smiley

However, I think from a textual-historical p.o.v., it is hard to avoid that the text is talking about the same type of creature indicated in the opening of the book of Job (same "sons of God").

Quote
No, like the examples I gave from Exodus, it simply illustrates that Elokim (unlike the Tetragrammaton or E-l) doesn't refer to God ever time it's used.

Ah, but these are sons of Elohim, not simply "Elohim" - so what now, are they "sons of the rulers"?  See, this gets more and more convoluted, where as the contrary interpretation fits far more elegantly with the plain meaning of the text.

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« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2005, 01:55:58 AM »

ixcn,

Well, now you're just making my argument for me - that the translators of the Septuagint decided to translate ben 'elohiym as angelos makes the matter pretty clear - since in Genesis 6 it's the same ben 'elohiym that we read about as in Gen. 6, both in terms of what the Hebrew says and what the context and archaic interpretation dictates.

Though just an inquirer, I can't help wondering if "sons of angels" is open to interpretation.  In Revelation 2 and 3, the pastors or messengers of seven local churches are addressed as angels; so, the angels' sons in Genesis 6 might be sons of people who had heard from the true God.   Smiley

To think angels ever had offspring by humans troubles me as a believer in creationism.  People and animals are known to bring forth after their respective kinds.  When different kinds interbreed, the resulting offspring, hybrids, are infertile.  Besides, where does the Bible say supernatural angels have children among themselves?  If they don't have offspring of their own, why should we think they'd ever have offspring by humans?

I'm more comfortable believing that the sons of God ( or sons of angels ) were godly people who intermingled with the ungodly before the flood.

In Christ,
Mathetes
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« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2005, 05:29:43 AM »

The obvious question is why would God be angered against mankind for the sins of supposed angels, called "sons of God"? I think that the "sons of God" were probably those who lived in repentance who preserved the spirit of God inside them and who praised God like earthly angels, but some fell into temptation deceiving others with them and thus causing great sin against God. This is what caused God to make the great flood: the continued disobedience of mankind.

God reacted to the disobedience of these spiritual mortals by saying "My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years." It seems that God wanted a Holy men to lead his people.

Another explanation could be that those tribal leaders and elders who were chosen and anointed by God were considered to be sons of God. As the human populations grew it would only be natural that tribal leaders would be necessary and rise into these offices. The tribal chief would therefore be responsible for the tribal family and considered to be an embassador of God. Women naturally would not be given a leadership role.
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« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2005, 03:49:40 PM »

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The obvious question is why would God be angered against mankind for the sins of supposed angels, called "sons of God"?

Well, I would argue that the great flood was not motivated by “anger”, or “wrath”, or a sense of “vengeance”; God was not getting back at mankind so to speak (let alone getting back at mankind for the sins of extra-terrestrial beings); He simply realised that the earth had become so corrupt to the extent that He would have to wipe it out completely, for the sake of the redemption of future generations. Thus, He was not punishing mankind, but rather He was giving mankind a second chance, and hence it is irrelevant how this ultimate corruption of the land eventuated and who exactly was responsible for it, the fact it did eventuate per se deemed this “renewal” via the flood, a necessary act in the history of the redemption of mankind.

Peace.
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« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2005, 03:50:32 PM »

To those who cannot conceive of angels engaging in physical human activities, I would say that they are being presumptuous. Men like St Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and St Justin Martyr, were certainly not stupid people, which is what many of the comments made in this thread would make them out to be. Who is to say that these angels could not fall from the heavenly realm and assume (by the will of God) human appearance and even a human nature?

This is indeed what apparently happened in Genesis 18 when Abraham was visited by the “three men.” I’m not sure about the EO tradition for this Biblical account, but I believe the OO tradition upholds the view of St Ephrem the Syrian, in which two of these “men” were in fact angels. Thus according to this view, not only were these angels manifest in the appearance of men, but they were also involved in physical human activity — the consumption of food.

Peace.
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« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2005, 07:30:10 AM »

According to Eastern Orthodox Theology, the fall of Satan happened at a time before the creation of the material world. The use of the account from Apocryphal writings like Enoch is not acceptable. This is probably one of the reasons it was not accepted as Holy Scripture.

If we reacall, it was Satan who deceived Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. He therefore already existed. Furthermore in Revelations (12:7-9) the apocalypse of John reveals that there was a spiritual falling of not only Satan but also Satan's angels. They plunged down from heaven like lightining onto the earth, since pride has no place in heaven.

Angels and Satan himself we are told can appear in almost any form, but this does not prove that they had sexual relations.

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« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2005, 12:31:38 PM »

Angels don't eat - they pretend to.  They don't have DNA and to suggest that they could breed with women is blasphemous.  The Holy Theotokos conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Only She experienced this union with the spiritual, if I can put it like that.  Witches claim to have intercourse with demons, but have never claimed offspring from such a union.
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