My Whacko Theory: Part Two

Due to the overwhelming positive response to Part 1, I’ve decided to not make you wait for Part 2 a moment longer than necessary…

Part of the exegesis of 1Pet.3 included determining WHO “the spirits in prison” were. I found the Greek word for “spirits”, in the plural, with only one exception (where the text qualifies the meaning), always refers to angelic beings, both righteous and fallen. An entirely different word, psuche, is used of men’s spirits. Revelation contains 7 references to a subset of fallen angels who have been imprisoned in a place called “the Abyss” and “the pit”, where they await future judgment. 2Pet.2:4-5 speaks of fallen angels imprisoned by God in Tartarus during the time of Noah. The Greek verb tartarow means, “I send to Tartarus.” [Warning…we are rapidly approaching whacko theory…]

This concept would have been familiar to both 1st Century Jews and pagan Greeks. In the Book of Enoch, Tartarus is the place where fallen angels are imprisoned. In Greek mythology, Tartarus is the name for the underworld, the realm where the imprisoned Titans (2nd generation gods who battled against and lost to the 3rd generation Olympian gods) are imprisoned, as well as being the realm of dead men. NOW, my whacko theory is…what if the Greek myths concerning the Titans are based upon those imprisoned fallen angels? What if the Titans were actually the fallen angels “who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared” (1Pet.3:20)? What if “the Abyss”, “the pit” of Revelation is the same place called Tartarus by the Greeks?

I haven’t looked too closely at Gen.6:1-4, other than to know this term “sons of Elohim” is used only four other times in the OT and in all four instances it refers to supernatural beings: Job 1:6, 2:1; 38:7 (angels) and Dan.3:25 (a theophany of Christ). And in Gen.6:2 “sons of Elohim” are carefully distinguished from the “daughters of men”. In the LXX “sons of Elohim” is translated “the angels of God”. In the OT men are sometimes referred to as “sons of Jehovah”, but never as “sons of Elohim”. The only other applicable reference is in Jude 6-7, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of that great day”. In v.7 Jude says these imprisoned angels are like Sodom and Gomorrah in that they went after “strange flesh”, an unholy alliance.

Gen.6:4 calls the offspring of these “sons of Elohim” and “daughters of men” – “giants” [nephilim], “mighty men”, “men of reknown”. [I know some say v.4 is not talking about the same group as vv.1-2, but the same term “sons of Elohim” IS used in both places. Book One of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” gives the Greek mythological account of the Creation through the Flood (containing lots of interesting “pieces”, btw!). Hades becomes ruler of Tartarus [in the division of rule among the 3 brothers after they have defeated the Titans: Hades gets the underworld, Poseidon the seas and Zeus/Jove the heavens and the earth – Zeus/Jove did the dividing and gave himself a double portion as the firstborn son. [He’s REALLY the last conceived, but ends up being the firstborn…but that’s entirely another story…] The “iron age”, the final age before the Flood, called “the worst of ages, suddenly gave way to every foul impiety; earth saw the flight of faith and modesty and truth – and in their place came snares and fraud, deceit and force and sacrilegious love of gain.” It’s so bad on earth that that “guests cannot trust hosts”! [a MAJOR sin to the Greeks!!] “And in this age, not even heaven’s heights are safer than the earth. They say the Giants, striving to gain the kingdom of the sky, heaped mountain peak on mountain mass, star-high.” [a conflation with the Tower of Babel?] Zeus throws thunderbolts and they crash down, but “Earth soaked up the blood of her dread sons; and with their blood still warm, she gave their gore new life: so that the Giant’s race might not be lost without a trace, she gave their shape to humans whom she fashioned from that blood. But even this new race despised the gods; and they were keen for slaughter, bent on force: it’s clear to see that they were born of blood.” When Zeus/Jove sees the condition of men on earth he groans, becomes angry, and after consulting with the other gods, decides to “destroy the mortals’ race” with a flood. Only Deucalion and his wife survive the Deluge. “Their small skiff” lands on Mount Parnassus. Then the wind Boreas is sent out to dry the earth.

Now, I’m not going to write a book outlining my whacko theory, naming all of you as my family and friends. But it is interesting to contemplate. And maybe I’ve interested you enough to want to read “Metamorphoses” (The Mandelbaum translation is a poetic, easy read) or to pay a little more attention to the art of ancient civilizations the next time you visit a museum. And if you happen to have me along with you…I’ll tell you some more…

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5 comments on “My Whacko Theory: Part Two

  1. Beth says:

    I didn’t leave a comment on the Part I since it was totally false advertising.

    Could you post on the other theories of who the spirits are in I Peter?

  2. Beth'sMomToo says:

    There are TWO other theories. Some Commentators say they are the spirits of the people who were alive at the time of Noah and subsequently perished in the Flood and that Christ preached the gospel to them, that being “imprisoned” means they were in hell. That falls apart because:
    1] the Bible is crystal clear that there are no second chances for salvatioin after death
    2] the word for preaching the gospel [euangelidzo] is NOT used, but another word (I give up trying to spell Greek words with our alphabet!!) meaning “to preach”, “to proclaim” is used. The message being proclaimed is not included within the verb (like with euangelidzo), and requires a qualification of what is actually proclaimed. [My conclusion was that Christ “proclaimed” His victory over sin and death to the fallen angels imprisoned in Tartarus, who are awaiting judgment.
    a)It makes their coming judgment certain. [Tartarus, btw, if it is “the pit”, “the abyss”, is also the place Satan will be bound for 1000 years. Rev.20)
    b)It’s an encouragement to the believers Peter is writing to, who are unjustly being persecuted by people being deluded by Satan and his minions.]
    3]it would be odd for Christ to choose out just one small group of lost people to preach to
    4]the Greek word for “spirits”, in the plural, is never used of people (except for once, where it is qualified in the text) and IS used of angelic beings. Another Greek word is used for the spirits of men.

    The other theory says that Christ preached the gospel to the “spirits” of the people alive during the time of Noah, by speaking through Noah. The problem with this interpretation:
    1] the word for “spirits” is NOT used of humans, but of angels (see above)
    2]the word for preaching the gospel is NOT used (see above).

    [What do you MEAN false advertising? Haven’t you ever seen “previews of coming attractions”?]

    Oh, another interesting thing I just came upon. In “Metamorphoses” [Ovid was Roman (43BC-17AD), so these are late versions of Greek myths] he tells about the transition between night and morning and he mentions the stars disappearing one by one as dawn [Eos] approaches. “The stars retreat; their ranks are driven off by Lucifer, who is the last to leave his station in the sky.” [Book II, story of Phaethon]

  3. Doug Wilcox says:

    Write the book.

  4. wendy says:

    Hi Deb,

    I am home sick with strep today (Sunday), and I am doing a bit of catching up on some blogs I like to read. This comment is for a few posts back, but I was afraid you wouldn’t see it if I put it with that post. So, I have a question for you, but first a comment. I agree, there is nothing like digging into the God’s Word, and I also agree that you can really get so much more from doing that than from doing a application type Bible study. My question is, do you ever think it is appropriate to do an application type Bible study? You see, I ask because I am faced with this exact dilemna. I am the leader of a homeschool support group which meets once a month at my house. I love this group and I am always encouraged by other moms ideas and thoughts about our common goals as homeschoolers. We have a devotion time, a longish prayer time, and then sort of a give and take time of brainstorming or talking about upcoming field trips or what have you. Well, I typically do the devotion, and I was thinking of using a particular book as a guide for each devotion. I thought it would bring more continuity to the year, rather than whatever I happened to be thinking about that week. I just don’t think going through a book of the Bible would fit our format of only meeting once a month. Many of the women already have their own in depth Bible study going on, and this was not meant to take the place of that. This is literally a 15 minute devotion, once a month. The bulk of our time is spent praying. What are your thoughts or suggestions on that? The book I was thinking about doing would lend itself well to that. It is called “Homeschooling with a meek and quiet spirit”. This evening at my house is meant to take time out of our busy lives to focus on homeschooling and pray about homeschooling, and exchange ideas about homeschooling. To me, it is a breath of fresh air, or sometimes even a weight on my shoulders to pray for somebody more consistently. Thoughts? I appreciate your opinion.

  5. Beth'sMomToo says:

    Ah…devotions. I would suggest teaching a passage from the Bible. I’d love to sit down with you and give you some ideas that you could then develop. It would be GREAT to see you relying on the Bible, and encouraging others to do so. You don’t have to be profound. Just do your own study, and see what the HS opens up to you. Seriously, when you’re feeling better we could go over some ideas. As you use the Word, you will be amazed at the blessing it will be!! And you will be encouraging the other women to get into their Bibles a little more, too. Let’s keep our focus where it’s supposed to be. Hey…you could do an entire series on just Psalm 119!! Oh-oh…now you’ve got me thinking… 😉

    Are you better? I called tonight to see how you were and talked to Zaria. (She handles herself VERY well on the phone!!) I didn’t realize you were sick with strep. That’s almost a relief (though no fun for you!)…I was afraid more serious things were acting up.

    Btw…I’m leading a devotion tomorrow for Gold Ladies. Once I got going preparing it, I found enough material for a whole series of lessons! But Nardos may never ask me again if I can’t keep it within 10 minutes. 😉 So I am picking out just one thing. I’ll save the rest for some future opportunity.

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