GENETICS AND THE BIRTH OF THE ANTICHRIST
If the first half of the twentieth century was distinguished by an amazing increase in our knowledge of the physical world, the second half was distinguished by an even more amazing increase in our knowledge of the biological world, and especially the world of human genetics and human reproduction. The vital break-through here was the discovery of DNA in 1953. Then came the introduction of the contraceptive pill, in vitro fertilisation and surrogate motherhood. As one journalist put it: “First, contraception severed the connection between sex and reproduction. It became possible to have sex without having babies. Then modern technology severed the connection between reproduction and sex. It became possible to have babies without having sex.”
The most alarming developments have been genetic manipulation and cloning. According to the most recent reports, human cloning is already said to have taken place in Russia, near St. Petersburg.
As early as 1976, the director of the Institute of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Academician N.P. Dubinin, was predicting the scale of this revolution: “The achievements of human genetics, and of general and molecular genetics, will push forward the problem of interference in human heredity. The coming revolution in genetics will demand a decisive overturning of the previously dominant view concerning the primacy of nature in its natural form. Genetics will turn out to be capable of overcoming the natural story of life and creating organic forms inconceivable in the light of the laws of natural evolution… For the molecular genetics and the molecular biology of the 21st century there lies in store the prospect of creating cells as the only self-regulating open living system, which will be bound up with the understanding of the essence of life. An exchange of living forms will take place between the earth and other worlds… The aim of genetic engineering is the creation of organisms according to a given model, whose hereditary program is formed by means of introducing the recipient of new genetic information. This information can be artificially synthesised or separated in the form of natural genetic structures from various organisms. In this way a new single genetic system which cannot arise by means of natural evolution will be created experimentally… Various manipulations with DNA molecules can lead to the unforeseen creation of biologically dangerous hybrid forms… ”
After quoting this passage, Fr. Vladislav Sveshnikov expressed the truly apocalyptic fear: “We have to admit that contemporary science is preparing the ground for the coming of the Antichrist.” How? By the manipulation of genes in order to produce the “superman” or “man-god” of Nietzsche’s imagination, who will be at the same time the “devil-man” or “Antichrist” of Christian patristic teaching.
The purpose of this article is to show the light shed by the Holy Fathers on this possible link between genetic science and the birth of the Antichrist, and also on what may be meant by Dubinin’s words: “An exchange of living forms will take place between the earth and other worlds…”
1. Man, not demon
The birth of the Antichrist is described by the Fathers as being from an unclean woman of the tribe of Dan. This is the teaching of St. Irenaeus of Lyons (Against Heresies, V, 30), St. Hippolytus of Rome (Discourse on Christ and Antichrist), St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Ambrose of Milan and Blessed Jerome. In the Synaxarion for Meatfare Sunday, we read: “The Antichrist will come and be born, as St. Hippolytus of Rome says, of a polluted woman, a supposed virgin, a Jewess of the tribe of Dan”.
The most detailed description is to be found in St. Nilus the Myrrh-gusher: “The Antichrist will be born of an unclean, wanton maid. All debaucheries will be united within this maid, and she will be the treasure house of fornication. Every evil of the world, every uncleanness, every sin will be embodied in her. Through her conceiving from secret wantonness, all sins will be combined in a womb of uncleanness and will be brought to life together with the spiritual impoverishment of the world. When the world will be deprived of the grace of the Most Holy Spirit, then the Antichrist will come to life in the womb of the unclean, from the most filthy and impure woman to have lived, though she will appear as a virgin. Conceived from such secret and unnatural wantonness, the offspring will be the container of every evil, as opposed to the way in which Christ was the ideal of every good quality, and His Most Pure Mother was the ideal of womanhood.”
The question is: who will be the father? Since the Antichrist will attempt to imitate Christ in all things, it has been suggested by some of the Fathers that he will try to imitate Him also in His birth. Thus just as Christ was born of the Virgin, so the Antichrist will be born of a supposed virgin; and just as Christ had no human father, but was conceived of the Holy Spirit, so the Antichrist will have no human father, but will be conceived of - the devil? Such an idea appears to have been suggested by the further words of St. Nilus: “Yea, he will be born of seed, but without man’s sowing. He will be born with seed, but not with the seed of a man.” And some expressions from the early Fathers, especially in the West, might seem to encourage this hypothesis. Thus St. Hippolytus, Pope of Rome in the mid-third century, writes that “just as the Saviour appeared in the form of a man, so he too [the Antichrist] will come in the form of a man”. Again, both St. Constantine’s tutor, Lactantiusand St. Martin of Tours say that the Antichrist will be “conceived by an evil spirit”. And Blessed Theodoretus of Cyr writes: “Before Christ’s Coming there shall appear in the world the enemy of man, the opponent of God, vested in human nature.”
However, other Western Fathers were of a different opinion. Thus St. Irenaeus writes that he will “receive all the virtue of the devil, “and summ up within himself the apostasy of the devil”, but that he will be of human, rather than angelic substance. And from the second half of the fourth century the Fathers are almost unanimous in declaring that the Antichrist will be devilish, but not the devil; he will be the tool of the devil, but not his incarnation.
Thus St. Narses of Armenia (+373) said on his deathbed: “Think ye not that he is Satan, or a devil from among his hosts. No, but a man lost in mind and soul of the tribe of Dan.”
Again, St. John Chrysostom writes: "Who is he? Is he Satan? By no means, but some man, who allows him to work fully in him. For he is a man... He will not introduce idolatry, but will be a kind of opponent to God; he will abolish all the gods, and will order men to worship him instead of God, and he will be seated in the temple of God, not only the one in Jerusalem, but also in every church..."
Again, Blessed Jerome writes: “Nor let us think that he [the Antichrist] is the devil or a demon, but a man in whom satan is to dwell wholly and bodily”.
Again, St. John of Damascus writes: "The devil himself does not become man in the way that the Lord was made man. God forbid! But he becomes man as the offspring of fornication and receiveth all the energy of Satan. For God, knowing the strangeness of the choice that he would make, allows the devil to take up his abode in him. Born of a fornicator, he shall be raised in secret, shall be announced to all unexpectedly, and will ascend the throne."
Nevertheless, while the consensus of the Fathers rules out a real incarnation of the devil in a man, they do not deny that this is what the devil will try to do. Thus Blessed Theodoretus of Cyrus writes: “The persecutor of men imitates the incarnation of our God and Saviour. And as He by assuming our human nature accomplished our salvation, so he [the devil], by choosing a man capable of receiving the fulness of his power, shall tempt man.”
In the middle of the tenth century, the French Abbot Adso of Montier-en-Der developed this idea as follows: “He is born by intercourse from a father and a mother, like other men - not, as some fantasize, from a virgin alone... But in the very beginning of his conception the devil will at the same time enter into the womb of his mother and will totally fill her, and totally circumscribe her, and totally hold her, and totally possess her from without and within, so that she will conceive through a man with the devil’s cooperation, and that which will be born will be totally iniquitous, totally evil and totally lost...”
2. Can demons unite with men?
In the modern period some further light has been shed on this mystery by St. Seraphim of Sarov, who prophesied: "Jesus Christ, the true God-Man, the Son of God the Father, was born in Israel by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the true Antichrist, the devil-man, will be born amidst the Russians. He will be the son of a fornicating woman of the tribe of Dan and the son of the devil through the artificial transfer to her of the seed of the man, with which the spirit of darkness will settle in her womb. But one of the Russians who will live to the time of the birth of the Antichrist (like Simeon the God-receiver, who announced the birth of the Child Jesus to the world) will curse the newborn babe and will announce to the world that it is the true Antichrist."
So here we find a new twist, as it were, to what we might have been tempted to dismiss as the myth of the devil-man. The Antichrist will be truly man - on both his father’s and his mother’s side. But the fallen angelic nature will also be innate in him, being mixed with his father’s seed even before his conception. At the same time, we may suppose, genetic engineering will take place on the seed, so as to make the child born of it the most brilliant and talented, but at the same time most corrupted person ever born! How costly for mankind is the transgressing of God’s laws concerning marriage and the begetting of children - nothing less than the birth of the Antichrist!
Perhaps we can now better understand an apparent ambiguity in St. Andrew of Caesarea’s Commentary on the Apocalypse, in which he at one moment asserts that the “angelic substance” is assumed in the Antichrist (50.13), and at another that “the devil operates in the Antichrist” (51.45). There is a sense in which the “angelic substance” is assumed in the Antichrist, since it is joined to him from his very conception, and therefore influences him from within and from the beginning, rather than possessing him from without and ex post facto. On the other hand, it is not a real incarnation of the devil, nor a real imitation of the Virgin Birth, since neither is his mother a virgin, nor is he without a human father. It is not, as Ambrosiaster puts it, that “as the Son of God in His human birth manifested His Divine nature, so also shall Satan appear in human form”. It is rather, as St. Cyril of Jerusalem puts it, “Satan uses him as an organ, working in his own person through him”.
But is it in principle possible for the human and angelic natures to unite, not merely through possession, that is, the union of two persons, one human and the other angelic (demonic) under one skin, but hypostatically, through the union of two natures, one human and the other angelic, in one person?
This question was actively discussed by the Fathers in relation to one of the most puzzling passages in Holy Scripture: And it came to pass when men began to be numerous upon the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the angels of God [or: sons of God], having seen the daughters of men that they were beautiful, took for themselves wives from all whom they chose. And the Lord God said, My Spirit shall certainly not remain among these men for ever, for they are flesh, but their days shall be one hundred and twenty years. Now the giants were upon the earth in those days, and after that the angels of God [sons of God] were wont to enter in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the giants of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6.1-5).
The understanding of this passage hinges on the meaning of the word translated “angels of God” or “sons of God” in verses 2 and 4. In the Hebrew Massoretic text the word is bene-ha-elohim, literally “sons of God”. In the Greek translation of the Septuagint, which is the oldest and most authoritative text that we have, the Cambridge text edited by Brooke-Mclean has “angels of God” (aggeloi tou qeou) in verse 2, and “sons of God” (uioi tou qeou) in verse 4.
P. S. Alexander writes: “The translator has not been inconsistent, for closer inspection shows that, though there are no significant variants at verse 4, a number of important witnesses at verse 2 read, not oi aggeloi tou qeou but oi uioi tou qeou. Moreover, the main support in verse 2 for oi aggeloi tou qeou (viz. Cod. A) has the reading over an erasure. It seems most likely, then, that LXX [the Septuagint] originally read oi uioi tou qeou in both places. It was later altered, but inconsistently. The literal rendering [i.e. “sons of God”] is found in other Greek texts, as well as in the Vulgate, the Peshitta and the Biblical text of the Ps-Philonic Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum (=LAB).”
Be that as it may, and even if there is not absolute unanimity concerning which reading is correct, there is complete unanimity, from the earliest Jewish commentators until the early third century, about its meaning. All commentators and writers agree that the reference here is to angels. Such an interpretation is supported by the fact that in three passages of the Book of Job (1.6, 2.1, 38.7) the phrase “sons of God” certainly refers to angels. Also, the fact that the women gave birth to giants suggests something abnormal, something more than just a normal human coupling….
We find this interpretation both in pre-Christian Jewish literature - for example, The Book of Enoch, Jubilees, The Testament of the 12 Patriarchs, Philo and Josephus - and in the early Christian Fathers and writers such as Justin the Philosopher, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Methodius of Olympus and Ambrose.
Thus Josephus writes: “Now this posterity of Seth continued to esteem God as the Lord of the universe, and to have an entire regard to virtue, for seven generations; but in process of time they were perverted, and forsook the practices of their forefathers, and did neither pay those honours to God which were appointed them, not had they any concern to do justice towards men; but for what degree of zeal they had formerly shown for virtue, they now showed by their actions a double degree of wickedness, whereby they made God to be their enemy. For many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants. But Noah was very uneasy at what they did; and being displeased at their conduct, persuaded them to change their disposition, and their actions for the better: but seeing they did not yield to him, but were slaves to wicked pleasures, he was afraid they would kill him, together with his wife and children, and those they had married; so he departed out of the land.”
Again, St. Justin writes: “In ancient times wicked demons appeared and defiled women.”
Again, St. Methodius writes: “The others remained in the positions for which God made and appointed them; but the devil was insolent, and having conceived envy of us, behaved wickedly in the charge committed to him; as also did those who subsequently were enamoured of fleshly charms, and had illicit intercourse with the daughters of men. For to them also, as was the case with men, God granted the possession of their own choice.”
Again, St. Irenaeus writes: “And for a very long while wickedness extended and spread, and reached and laid hold upon the whole race of mankind, until a very small seed of righteousness remained among them: and illicit unions took place upon the earth, since angels were united with the daughters of the race of mankind; and they bore to them sons who for their exceeding greatness were called giants. And the angels brought as presents to their wives teachings of wickedness, in that they brought them the virtues of roots and herbs, and dyeing in colours and cosmetics, the discovery of rare substances, love-potions, aversions, amours, concupiscence, constraints of love, spells of bewitchment, and all sorcery and idolatry hateful to God; by the entry of which things into the world evil extended and spread, while righteousness was diminished and enfeebled…”
Another very important, albeit not quite so clear witness in favour of this interpretation is the passage from II Peter: If God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into tartarus, and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgement; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah... (2.4-5; cf. Jude 6), which from its context seems to be referring to the angels’ cohabitation with the daughters of men.
However, in spite of all these early witnesses, the later Fathers from about the second half of the fourth century - including John Chrysostom, Ephraim the Syrian, Blessed Theodoretus, Cyril of Jerusalem, Blessed Jerome and Blessed Augustine - turned sharply against this interpretation, choosing rather to understand the term “sons of God” as denoting the men of the line of Seth, and the "daughters of men" - the women of the line of Cain; so that the event described in Genesis 6 involved an unlawful mixing between the pious and the impious human generations.
Thus St. John Chrysostom writes that it would be “folly to accept such insane blasphemy, saying that an incorporeal and spiritual nature could have united itself to human bodies”.
Again, St. Augustine, after noting that “the Septuagint calls them the angels and sons of God”, goes on to say: “According to the Hebrew canonical Scriptures [i.e as opposed to apocrypha such as The Book of Enoch], there is no doubt that there were giants upon the earth before the deluge, and that they were the sons of the men of earth, and citizens of the carnal city, unto which the sons of God, being Seth’s in the flesh, forsaking righteousness, adjoined themselves.”
Again, St. Ephraim the Syrian writes: “The daughters of Cain adorned themselves and became a snare to the eyes of the sons of Seth… The entire tribe of Seth… was stirred to a frenzy over them… Because the sons of Seth were going in to the daughters of Cain, they turned away from their first wives whom they had previously taken. Then these wives, too, disdained their own continence and now, because of their husbands, quickly began to abandon their modesty, which up until that time they had preserved for their husbands’ sake. It is because of this wantonness that assailed both the men and the women, that Scripture says, All flesh had corrupted its way (6.13).”
To this same line of interpretation belong the words of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow: “According to the text of the Alexandrian Bible, [the words are] ‘Angels of God’. Lactantius is of this opinion, as are many ancient authors. Justin affirms that from the marriages of Angels with the daughters of men there came demons. Athenagoras ascribes the fall of the Angels to these same marriages, and it was from them that the giants came. Tertullian ascribes to these Angels the acquisition of Astrology, precious stones, metals and some female adornments. But all these traditions contradict the witness of Jesus Christ, that the Angels do not marry (Matthew 22.30)…
“According to the opinion of the most recent interpreters, [they are] the descendants of the race of Shem, who not only were sons of God by grace (cf. Deuteronomy 14.1; I John 3.1), but they also probably formed a society under this name (cf. Genesis 4.26) which was opposed to the society of the sons of men, that is, the descendants of Cain, who were led only by their fallen human nature. Moses ascribes the beginning of the mixing of such contrary societies to the fascination with the beauty of the daughters of men; and as a consequence even those who belonged to the society of those who walk in the Spirit became flesh, and light itself began to be turned into darkness.”
3. Demons, Women and UFOs
However, even if we exclude the possibility of a real, hypostatic union between angels (demons) and men, it is another question whether demons may not desire such a union and strive for it.
But why should they wish to unite with women?
First, because demons, in spite of their bodiless nature, are possessed by bodily lust, according to St. Ignaty Brianchaninov. In this connection the words of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 11.10 are relevant: For this cause ought the woman to have authority on her head on account of the angels. Commenting on this passage, St. Paulinus of Nola writes: “Let them realize why Paul ordered their heads to be clothed with a more abundant covering: it is because of the angels, that is, the angels who are ready to seduce them and whom the saints will condemn.”
A second reasons is that Satan almost certainly wishes to imitate the union of the two natures in one Person which Christ achieved at His incarnation, only substituting the demonic nature for the Divine, a whore for the Virgin Mother of God, and the Antichrist for Christ. Such a motive is suggested by the fact, emphasised by many of the Fathers, that the Antichrist will seek to imitate Christ in all things. And if in all things, why not in his very birth?
Let us recall the prophecies of Saints Nilus and Seraphim that the conception of the Antichrist will be through a technique of artificial insemination, whereby the devil will seize and possess the sperm before it has reached the mother’s egg. Since the technique will be artificial insemination, rather than the normal process of sexual intercourse, the mother will be able to claim – falsely, of course - that she is a “virgin”. And since artificial insemination takes place in a test-tube, outside both human bodies, the possibilities for possession and genetic manipulation of the sperm by the devil will be maximised. Moreover, having taking possession of the sperm before it fertilises the egg, the devil will be able to claim that he is the father of the Antichrist “from eternity” – or, at any rate, before the human father could beget him. Then the Antichrist will be, according to the demonic anti-theology, one person in two natures – from a bodiless father before he became man, and from a virgin mother at the moment of conception…
Could the demons already be experimenting on the union of the human and demonic natures? After all, the technique of artificial insemination already exists. Moreover, “genetic engineering”, and the union of human and animal species, is already well advanced in human laboratories - undoubtedly under the direct influence of demons.
But the participation of demons may be more direct that that; for it is not just deluded human beings who are attempting to change and manipulate and hybridise the nature of man...
According to reputable Orthodox writers, such as Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, the inhabitants of the so-called “Unidentified Flying Objects” (UFOs), which have so struck the popular imagination in recent decades, are in fact demons. Other writers have seen a parallel between the phenomenon of the UFOs coming to earth and the story of the visitation of the daughters of men by the son of God in Genesis 6, which produced the hybrid offspring of the “giants”, “watchers” or “fallen ones”. Moreover, according to the Harvard Professor of Psychiatry, John Mack, there is now well established evidence that men and women have been abducted onto UFOs, where their alien “hosts”, i.e. demons, have performed sexual experiments upon them. There have been reported cases of matings between demons and human beings on board these craft. But still more sinister, sperm has been taken from men, and ova from women. “Fertilized eggs, which may have been genetically altered, are implanted, and later there is the eventual removal of the pregnancy. In subsequent abductions, experiencers are shown hybrid offspring and may even be asked to hold or nurture them.”
These ideas indicate how Genesis 6.1-5, modern experiments on human sexuality and reproduction (by both humans and demons) and the doctrine of the Antichrist, may come together in a fantastic, nightmarish scenario that nevertheless has the stamp of reality. Moved by envy, lust and jealousy, the devil, the enemy of mankind, has from primordial times tried to interfere with, corrupt, abuse and radically subvert human nature. And just as Christ recreated human nature in the image and likeness of God by becoming incarnate of the Virgin Mother of God, so the devil wishes to recreate it in his image and likeness by becoming incarnate of a pseudo-virgin, the mother of the Antichrist.
However, real demonic incarnation, the creation of a true demon-man, is impossible because of the bounds between species and kinds of rational beings created by God. So Satan resorts to as close an imitation as possible: through the demonic possession of human seed even before conception, and its genetic manipulation to accentuate the worst qualities in fallen human nature, he plans to create, if not a true demon-man, at any rate the demonic man par excellence. But since, unlike God, he cannot create out of nothing or at once, he requires time and experimentation, in order gradually, by trial and error, to “work out” his perverted masterpiece.
Let us go back to the early chapters of Genesis. It will be recalled that almost immediately after the attempt of the “sons of God” to seduce the daughters of men, and the birth from these unions of giants, there came the universal flood which swept away all mankind except Noah and his family. Whether or not there is a direct causal connection between the two events is not indicated: but their close proximity is very suggestive.
Now in the New Testament the Lord said: As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all (Luke 17.26-27). The period we are living through now appears very similar to the period the Lord was speaking about, and so also to the period just before the Flood. Now, as then, men have begun to multiply on the earth, and now, as then, the condition of mankind is one of spiritual and moral degeneration.
But could the correspondence between the Old and the New Testaments be even closer here? Could it be that just as the universal flood and the destruction of the old world was brought about by an unnatural union of demons and men and the consequent birth of giants, so the Second Coming of Christ and the burning up of the material universe at His Coming will be brought about by an unnatural union of Satan and a woman and the consequent birth of the Antichrist? Could it be that the final corruption of human nature which both sequences indicate signals the end of the world in both sequences, with only a tiny remnant of righteous men being saved in the Ark (of the Church)?
We cannot prevent the birth of the Antichrist, for the Scriptures must be fulfilled (Mark 14.49). But we can delay his appearing by living a godly life and by being keenly aware, through a knowledge of the Scriptures, of the snares of the devil. And we must be aware above all that the human spirit, being free and under the protection of God for as long as it seeks it, is not subject to the flesh, however corrupted, manipulated and even demon-possessed it may be. The Lord said of the last times: except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved (Matthew 24.22). But He also said of His sheep: They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand (John 10.28)...
August 9/22, 2001.
Appendix: An interesting Protestant interpretation of Genesis 6
Dr. Henry Morris discusses this passage in a perceptive manner:
“The interpretation of the passage obviously turns on the meaning of the phrase ‘sons of God’ (bene elohim). In the New Testament, of course, this term is used with reference to all who have been born again through personal faith in Christ (John 1.12; Romans 8.14; etc.), and the concept of the spiritual relationship of believers to God analogous to that of children to a father is also found in the Old Testament (Psalm 73.15; Hosea 1.10; Deuteronomy 32.5; Exodus 4.22; Isaiah 43.6). Not one of these examples, however, uses the same phrase as Genesis 6.2,4; furthermore, in each case the meaning is not really parallel to the meaning here in Genesis. Neither the descendants of Seth nor true believers of any sort have been previously referred to in Genesis as sons of God in any kind of spiritual sense and, except for Adam himself, they could not have been sons of God in a physical sense. In context, such a meaning would be strained, to say the least, in the absence of any kind of explanation. The only obvious and natural meaning without such clarification is that these beings were sons of God, rather than of men, because they had been created, not born. Such a description, of course, would apply only to Adam (Luke 3.38) and to the angels, whom God had directly created (Psalm 148.2,5; Psalm 104.4; Colossians 1.16).
“The actual phrase bene elohim is used three other times, all in the very ancient book of Job (1.6, 2.1, 38.7). There is no doubt at all that, in these passages, the meaning applies exclusively to the angels. A very similar form (bar elohim) is used in Daniel 3.25, and also refers either to an angel or to a theophany. The term ‘sons of the mighty’ (bene elim) is used in Psalm 29.1 and also Psalm 89.6, and again refers to angels. Thus, there seems no reasonable doubt that, in so far as the language itself is concerned, the intent of the writer was to convey the thought of angels - fallen angels, no doubt, since they were acting in opposition to God’s will. This also was the meaning placed on the passage by the Greek translators of the Septuagint, by Josephus, by the writer of the ancient apocryphal book of Enoch, and by all the other ancient Jewish interpreters and the earliest Christian writers. Apparently the first Christian writers to suggest the Sethite interpretation were Chrysostom and Augustine.
“The reason for questioning this obvious meaning, in addition to the supernaturalistic overtones, is (for those who do not reject the idea of angels) the opinion that it would be impossible for angels to have sexual relations with human women and to father children by them. However, this objection presupposes more about angelic abilities than we know. Whenever angels have appeared visibly to men, as recorded in the Bible, they have appeared in the physical bodies of men. Those who met with Abraham, for example, actually ate with him (Genesis 18.8) and, later appeared to the inhabitants of Sodom in such perfectly manlike shape that the Sodomites were attempting to take these ‘men’ for homosexual purposes. The writer of Hebrews suggests that, on various occasions, some ‘have entertained angels unawares’ (Hebrews 13.2).
“It is true that the Lord Jesus said that in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven (Matthew 22.30). However, this is not equivalent to saying that angels are ‘sexless’, since people who share in the resurrection will surely retain their own personal identity, whether male or female. Furthermore, angels are always described, when they appear, as ‘men’, and the pronoun ‘he’ is always used in reference to them. Somehow they have been given by God the capacity of materializing themselves in masculine human form when occasion warrants, even though their bodies are not under the control of the gravitational and electromagnetic forces which limit our own bodies in this present life.
“When Jesus said that the angels of God in heaven do not marry, this does not necessarily mean that those who have been cast out of heaven were incapable of doing so. It clearly was not God’s will or intention that angels mix in such a way with human women, but these wicked angels were not concerned with obedience to God’s will. In fact, it was probably precisely for the purpose of attempting to thwart God’s will that this particular battalion of the sons of God engaged in this illegal invasion of the bodies of the daughters of men.
“Satan had not forgotten God’s prophecy that a promised Seed of the woman would one day destroy him. He had implanted his own spiritual seed in Cain and his descendants, but God had preserved the line of the true Seed through Seth. When Noah was born and Lamech was led to prophesy that comfort concerning the Curse would come through him (Genesis 5.29), Satan and his angels must have feared that their opportunities for victory in this cosmic conflict were in imminent danger. Desiring reinforcement for a coming battle against the hosts of heaven, and also desiring, if possible, to completely corrupt mankind before the promised Seed could accomplish Satan’s defeat, they seem to have decided to utilize the marvelous power of procreation which God had given the human family and to corrupt it to their own ends. Men now were rapidly multiplying on the earth and by implanting their own ‘seed’ in humanity, they might be able to enlist in only one generation a vast multitude as allies against God. So these sons of God saw the daughter of men and took them wives for [or, literally, women] of all which they chose.
“Some commentators have said that, since the phrase took them wives is the same phrase as normally used throughout the Old Testament for ‘taking a wife’, there can be nothing involved here other than normal human marriage. Therefore, they argue, these sons of God must be merely male believers in the Sethite line who married good-looking women of the Cainite (or other) line with no regard to whether or not they were true believers in God This argument, however, is weak and is hardly sufficient to overthrow the heavy weight of evidence otherwise. The word used for ‘wife’ (Hebrew ishah) is commonly also used for ‘woman’, regardless of whether or not she was a married woman. The word for ‘take’ (Hebrew laqach) is a very common verb, and can have any noun as its object. Shechem, for example, ‘took’ Dinah and lay with her, though he was not married to her (Genesis 34.2).
“The fact that these creatures could take whatever women they chose further suggests a general state of profligacy which made indiscriminate sexual unions quite commonplace. This is also suggested by Christ’s descriptive phrase marrying and giving in marriage (Matthew 24.38) as characteristic of the careless attitude of the days of Noah.
“If, for the sake of argument at least, we assume that the bene elohim were, indeed, angels, and that angels can assume such a total human form that they actually have male reproductive systems, then a grave question would have to be posed relative to the nature of the progeny that would result from their sexual intercourse with human women. The identity of the ‘giants’ is discussed further below, but the seriousness of this problem does have a bearing on how we should interpret these unions. Fallen angels have no possibility of salvation, but fallen men and women do have at least this possibility. What, then, would be the case with ‘people’ who were half-angel, half-men?
“This seems to be such a grotesque situation that it does appear extremely doubtful that God would have allowed it at all, even if it really were physiologically a realistic possibility. And yet, as already indicated, it does violence to the actual text of the passage if we make it mean merely that the sons of Seth began to marry the daughters of Cain. (If this were what it meant, why did not the writer simply say so, and thus avoid all this confusion?) And why the giants, and why the universal violence?
“The sons of Seth were surely not all godly men; so why should they be called sons of God (remember, they all [except Noah and his sons] perished in the Flood)? Furthermore, Adam had many sons in addition to Cain and Seth; were they spiritual ‘sons of God’, too? Not very likely, at this period of history. Furthermore, why stress only the union of godly men with ungodly women? What about the ‘daughters of God’? Were they being married to ‘sons of men’?
“This naturalistic interpretation is so forced and awkward that it seems to do disservice to the doctrine of divine inspiration to suppose that this is really what the writer meant to say. He surely meant to convey to his readers the idea that, in these days of Noah, such an awful irruption of abnormality and wickedness burst forth on the earth that it could only explained by a demonically supernatural cause...
“It is significant that the Septuagint renders the phrase ‘sons of God’ as ‘angels of God’. This was the Old Testament version in dominant use in the Apostolic period, and thus this would be the way the phrase would have been read by Christ and His apostles. The apocryphal book of Enoch was extant then, as well, and was apparently known to the New Testament writers (Jude 14); and it intensely elaborated this angelic interpretation. As an apparent result of these facts, this interpretation is strongly implied, and probably required (as noted below) by three New Testament passages: Jude 6; II Peter 2.4-6; I Peter 3.19,20.
“Admittedly, however, there is a grave difficulty in the idea of angel-human sexual unions, not only the question of whether such a thing is possible, but even more in the theologically paradoxical and grotesque nature of the progeny of such unions. Is there any way to resolve this dilemma?
“A solution seems to consist in recognizing that the children were true human children of truly human fathers and mothers, but that all were possessed and controlled by evil spirits. That is, these fallen angelic ‘sons of God’ accomplished their purposes by something equivalent to demon possession, indwelling the bodies of men, and then also taking (or ‘possessing’) the bodies of the women as well. Then men whose bodies they possessed were evidently thereby made so attractive to the careless and rebellious women of the age that they could take over and use any of the women they chose. The seductive beauty of the women, probably enhanced by various artificial cosmetics and allurements developed by that time, was itself sufficient to induce men to constant obsession with sex, assuring a maximum rapidity of multiplication of the population. Thus, the ‘sons of God’ controlled not only the men whose bodies they had acquired for their own exploitation, but also the women they took to themselves in this way, and then all the children they bore.
“These particular Satanic angels, therefore, compounded their original sin in following Satan in his rebellion against God by now leaving their own habitation and keeping not their first estate (literally, ‘principality’), going after strange flesh as later did the Sodomites in like manner (Jude 6,7). Therefore, God no longer allows them to roam about the earth like other demons, but has confined them in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day, casting them down to a special hell (literally, ‘Tartarus’, not the ordinary place of departed spirits) where they are to be reserved unto judgement (II Peter 2.4).”
2 Anthony Daniels, "How far has humanity sunk when we treat the creation of life just like ordering a new car?", Daily Mail (London), August 13, 2001, p. 12.
3 David Fisher, "Russians 'have human clones'", Metro (London), August 13, 2001, p. 4.
4 Dubinin, Obschaya Genetika, Moscow: Nauka, 1976; quoted by Protopriest Vladislav Sveshnikov, "Rabota adova delaetsa uzhe", Kontinent, 71, 1992, pp. 270-271. Italics mine (V.M.)
5 Sveshnikov, op. cit., p. 271.
6 Lenten Triodion, Moscow: Synodal Press, 1897, pp. 30b-31a.
7 St. Nilus, in Archimandrite Pantaleimon, A Ray of Light, Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1976, p. 76.
8 St. Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 6.
9 Lactantius, The Divine Statutes, VII, 17.
10 St. Martin, in Sulpicius Severus, Dialogue, II, 14.
11 Blessed Theodoretus, A Short Exposition of the Divine Dogmas, 23.
12 St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V, 25.1.
13 St. Narses, in Bousset, op. cit., p. 254.
14 St. Chrysostom, Homily 3 on II Thessalonians.
15 St. Jerome, On Daniel 7.8.
16 St. Damascene, Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, IV, 26.
17 Blessed Theodoretus, On II Thessalonians 2.3.
18 Adso, Libellus de Antichristo, 1292B.
19 St. Seraphim, text supplied by Fr. Victor Potapov; a variant was published in Liternaturnaya Ucheba, January-February, 1991, pp. 131-134.
20 Ambrosiaster, On II Thessalonians 2.3.
21 St. Cyril, Catechetical Discourses XV,14.
22 Alexander, "The Targumim and Early Exegesis of 'Sons of God' in Genesis 6", Journal of Jewish Studies, 1972, 23, pp. 60-71.
23 These "giants" are also referred to in Baruch 3.26-28; Sirach 16.7; Wisdom 14.6; Judith 16.7.
24 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, I, 3.
25 St. Justin, First Apology V, 2.
26 St. Methodius, Discourse on the Resurrection, 7.
27 St. Irenaeus, The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 18.
28 St. Chrysostom, On Genesis 5:136-7.
29 St. Augustine, The City of God, XV, 23.
30 St. Ephraim, Commentary on Genesis, 6.3. Quoted in Fr. Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation and Early Man, Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Press, 2000, p. 244.
31 According to Aquila's translation, this verse reads: "Then they began to be called by the name of the Lord" - that is, "sons of God". Cf. Metropolitan Philaret, Zapiski rukovodstvuyushchiya k osnovatel'nomu razumeniyu Knigi Bytiya, Moscow, 1867, p. 100.
32Metropolitan Philaret, Zapiski, op. cit., p. 108.
33 Bishop Ignaty, "On Orthodoxy".
34 St. Paulinus, Letter 23: To Severus.
35 Rose, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, Platina: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990, chapter 6. See also David Ritchie, "UFOs: The Demonic Connection", Orthodox Life, vol. 43, no. 2, March-April, 1993, pp. 18-37; Archbishop Chrysostomos, "Alien Abductions and the Orthodox Christian", Orthodox Tradition, vol..XIV, 1997, pp. 57-62.
36 See Andrew Collins, From the Ashes of the Angels, London: Penguin Books, 1997, p. 371.
37 Mack, Abduction, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994, p. 394.
38 The Genesis Record, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976, pp. 164-174.
39 In support of this interpretation of the phrase "the sons of God", Dr. Herbert Lockyer ("Satanic Activity in the Last Days", Prophetic Witness, February, 1984, p. 12) writes: "One can only become a son of God by God's specific act of creation. All created beings are called sons of God. Natural born sons are sons of men. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that is, is a son of man; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, that is, a son of God. We can tabulate this as follows:
(a) Adam is called a 'son of God' (Luke 3.38) because, by the specific act of creation, his body was formed.
(b) Christ, in a pre-eminent sense, is also referred to as 'the Son of God' (I John 4.15), seeing that His holy body was created by God apart from male human agency.
(c) Believers are spoken of as 'the sons of God' (I Corinthians 15.17; I John 3.1), for the simple reason that their new nature is the direct creation of God.
(d) Angels, in like manner, are referred to as 'sons of God' (Job 38.7; Genesis 6.2). Being Divinely created, they bear such a dignified title. This term is definitely affixed to angels in Job 38.7. A.C. Gaebelein reminds us that 'sons of God' is the term applied in the Old Testament to supernatural beings, both good and evil. Angels, good and fallen, are termed sons of God. Satan himself is reckoned among the sons of God in Job 1.6; 2.1). The term here must mean supernatural beings.
In the Old Testament, the term 'sons of God' is never applied to believers. That the believer is a son of God, predestinated to the son-place and son-privilege, with the spirit of sonship urging him to cry, 'Abba, Father', is exclusively a New Testament revelation (Galatians 4.6,7)."