In the Jewish mystical tradition set forth in the Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilees that was carried on by groups including the religious community of Qumran that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Elioud (also transliterated Eljo) are the antediluvian children of the Nephilim and are considered a part-angel hybrid race of their own. Like the Nephilim, the Elioud are exceptional in both ability and wickedness. They are, in effect, demigods who, like the Greek god Prometheus, give humans access to divine secrets. Arguably, they are included within the Biblical phrase "Sons of God" (Bene Elohim).
The texts that use the term Elioud are non-canonical in modern Rabbinic Judaism, Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but are considered canonical by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and Beta Israel Jews (i.e. certain Ethiopian Jews). The canonical Book of Genesis mentions Enoch, the putative source of this revelation about the Elioud only in passing (as a long lived ancestor of Noah), and while it notes that Nephilim had children, it does not assign a name to them. Another canonical Bible passage concerning a giant at Gath and his children is sometimes alleged to refer to the Elioud (who in that account have six fingers on each hand and each foot), although in context, these references to giants appear to refer instead to the Philistines.
Early fathers of the Christian church and the bodies that formed the modern Rabbinical Jewish canon were aware of 1 Enoch and the Book of Jubilees in which these accounts were contained, but chose to omit these texts from the canon of Western Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism respectively.
Relevance To Christian theology
The religious community at Qumran that is the source of the Dead Sea Scrolls and similar (possibility the same) religious movements, such as the Essenes (who used pseudepigraphic texts like 1 Enoch and the Book of Jubilees that referenced the Elioud) were a branch of Judaism with strong messianic themes. According to Jewish historian Josephus, the Essenes were contemporaneous with two other schools of Jewish religious expression, the Sadducees and Pharisees, at the time of the early Christian movement. Of these three branches of Judaism, the Essenes were more similar in outlook and practices to those found in early Christianity. Thus the beliefs of the Essenes, including an important role of angels in a metaphysical world whose texts included the Elioud, is relevant to understanding the ideological context in the Jewish community out of which the early Jewish Christian movement emerged. In particular, texts about the Elioud explore the critical question of what scriptural references to the "sons of God", and the "son of God" mean, called Christology, which was a major source of schism and accusations of heresy in the early Christian church.
Less literal readings of Genesis 6:4 see the reference in that passage to the intermarriage of "sons of God", meaning the godly descendants of Seth or to people faithful to God generally, with "daughters of men", meaning the godless descendants of Cain, or to people who are not faithful to God generally. This less literal reading is the one adopted, in contrast to 1 Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, by the pseudepigraphic second part of the Book of Adam and Eve.
These interpretive issues are salient in Christian theology because in the context of a less literal reading of the phrase "sons of God", statements about Jesus being the "son of God" in the New Testament have the potential to take on a very different meaning than the literal meaning ascribed to those statements in the doctrine of almost all modern Christian denominations. In the less literal reading, it is a statement not about the personal divinity of Jesus, but about his ancestry or his faithfulness to Jewish law which brings him and other others who do so closer to God.
The church councils that formulated Christian doctrine and its creeds prior to the division of the Roman Catholic Church (from which the Protestant denominations later split) and the Eastern Orthodox churches, such as the First Council of Nicea in 325 CE declared such views to be heretical. Multiple Christian heresies were consistent with the less literal reading. The most notable of these was Arianism, which is named of the Coptic Christian clergyman who had advanced this view, in a historical and political context. Arianism gained adherents among Roman elites, church leaders and barbarian chiefs for extended periods of time before Emperor Constantine the Great firmly established a dominant doctrinal stance for what had become the Roman Empire's official state religion. But, the Coptic Christian denominations antecedent to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in which texts referencing the Elioud became canonical were already been separate from the church institutions of the Roman and Byzantine Empires before these councils definitively established church doctrine on what it meant for Jesus to be a "son of God."
The language of 1 Enoch that references the race of Elioud precludes less literal readings of the term "sons of God", for example, by enumerating the names of particular angels who choose to have children with human women. Thus, these texts are inconsistent with Arianism in which Jesus is a purely human prophet filled with the Holy Spirit. But, 1 Enoch is also inconsistent with the doctrine of the Trinity that would become Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox doctrine in which Jesus was fully human and fully divine, simultaneously. If Jesus had been one of the "sons of God" within the sense of 1 Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, he would have been part human and part angelic, something not contemplated by any notable Christian religious movement in the early church, although the Monophysites had a somewhat similar doctrine that saw Jesus as something like a hybrid of divine and human parts.
Discrepancies in the tradition
The non-canonical angel traditions involved are unclear regarding whether the Elioud are the angelic equivalent of quadroons or octoroons, i.e. 1/4th or 1/8th angelic by descent. In some readings of the non-canonical texts, the Nephilim are children whose father is an angel and whose mother is a human and they are the "giants" (also known as Gibborim) referred to in the canonical Book of Numbers. In others, angels and human women produce children who are Gibborim, and the Nephilim have fathers who are Gibborim and human mothers. This ambiguity is also found in the non-canonical Book of Giants, fragments of which were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- 2And when the angels,* the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.
- An Aramaic text reads "Watchers" here (J.T. Milik, Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4 [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976], p. 167). . . .
- 10Then they took wives, each choosing for himself; whom they began to approach, and with whom they cohabited; teaching them sorcery, incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees.
- 11And the women conceiving brought forth giants,
- The Greek texts vary considerably from the Ethiopic text here. One Greek manuscript adds to this section, "And they [the women] bore to them [the Watchers] three races–first, the great giants. The giants brought forth [some say "slew"] the Naphelim, and the Naphelim brought forth [or "slew"] the Elioud. And they existed, increasing in power according to their greatness."
The 1913 translation of R.H. Charles of the Book of Jubilees 7:21-25 reads as follows (note that "Naphil" is an alternative transliteration form of "Nephilim"):
- 21 For owing to these three things came the flood upon the earth, namely, owing to the fornication wherein the Watchers against the law of their ordinances went a whoring after the daughters of men, and took themselves wives of all which they chose: and they made the beginning of uncleanness.
- 22 And they begat sons the Naphidim, and they were all unlike, and they devoured one another: and the Giants slew the Naphil, and the Naphil slew the Eljo, and the Eljo mankind, and one man another.
- 23 And every one sold himself to work iniquity and to shed much blood, and the earth was filled with iniquity.
- 24 And after this they sinned against the beasts and birds, and all that moves and walks on the earth: and much blood was shed on the earth, and every imagination and desire of men imagined vanity and evil continually.
- 25 And the Lord destroyed everything from off the face of the earth; because of the wickedness of their deeds, and because of the blood which they had shed in the midst of the earth He destroyed everything.
There are possible references to the Elioud in the non-canonical Book of Giants, one version of which was used by the Manichaeans, fragments of which were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but a definitive reading is difficult because no complete version of this sacred text is available to modern researchers and the available fragments are in six different archaic languages.
- Multiple theories exist regarding the etymology of these terms. See Eibert J.C. Tigchelaar, "Prophets of old and the Day of the End: Zechariah, the Book of watchers, and apocalyptic" (Brill 1996) at pgs. 212-213.
- 1 Enoch 7:1-15. Book of Jubilees 7:21-25
- Genesis 5:18-24
- Genesis 6:1-6.
- 1 Chronicles 20:6–8. See, e.g., CK Quarterman, "The Elioud Race" (November 3, 2011) http://www.fallenangels-ckquarterman.com/the-elioud-race/
- The Ante-Nicene Fathers (ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; vol 4.16: On the Apparel of Women (De cultu foeminarum) I.3: "Concerning the Genuineness of 'The Prophecy of Enoch'")
- Emanuel Tov and Craig Evans, Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, Acadia 2008
- Philip R. Davies, Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures London: SPCK, 1998
- "And when I was about sixteen years old, I had a mind to make trim of the several sects that were among us. These sects are three: - The first is that of the Pharisees, the second that Sadducees, and the third that of the Essenes, as we have frequently told you" - The Life of Josephus Flavius, 2.
- See, e.g., "Essene and Christian Parallels", http://www.thenazareneway.com/essene_and_christian_parallels.htm
- See, e.g., The New Scofield Study Bible, New American Standard Edition (1988) at page 13, footnote 2 (commentary on Genesis 6:4).
- See Second Book of Adam and Eve 11:1-4 http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/fbe095.htm translated by Rutherford H. Platt, Jr., "The Forgotten Books of Eden" (1926): "1 AFTER the death of Adam and of Eve, Seth severed his children, and his children's children, from Cain's children. Cain and his seed went down and dwelt westward, below the place where he had killed his brother Abel. 2 But Seth and his children, dwelt northwards upon the mountain of the Cave of Treasures, in order to be near to their father Adam. 3 And Seth the elder, tall and good, with a fine soul, and of a strong mind, stood at the head of his people; and tended them in innocence, penitence, and meekness, and did not allow one of them to go down to Cain's children. 4 But because of their own purity, they were named "Children of God," and they were with God, instead of the hosts of angels who fell; for they continued in praises to God, and in singing psalms unto Him, in their cave--the Cave of Treasures."
- See, e.g., Allen Mawhinney, "God As Father: Two Popular Theories Reconsidered", 31-2 Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society pp. 181-189 (June 1988) http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/31/31-2/31-2-pp181-189_JETS.pdf
- 1 Enoch 7:3-9
- Numbers 13:32-33
- James R. Davila, "Summary of Book of Giants" (2002) at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/divinity/rt/otp/abstracts/bgiants/
- "The Reluctant Messenger" http://www.reluctant-messenger.com/1enoch01-60.htm
- Reproduced at http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/jubilees/index.htm and currently in the public domain.
- W. B. Henning, "The Book of Giants", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. XI, Part 1, 1943, pp. 52-74 at page 69, note 5 http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/giants/giants.htm#page_69_fr_5