The Greek story of the origin of demons is consistent with Jewish beliefs, although they had very different views of the nature of those spirits.
In 1 Enoch, demons were the spirits of the giants born to human woman from their union with the angelic Watchers:
But now the giants who were begotten by the spirits and flesh—they will call them evil spirits on the earth, for their dwelling will be on the earth. The spirits that have gone forth from the body of their flesh are evil spirits, for from humans they came into being, and from the holy watchers was the origin of their creation. Evil spirits they will be on the earth, and evil spirits they will be called. The spirits of heaven, in heaven is their dwelling; but the spirits begotten on the earth, on the earth is their dwelling. And the spirits of the giants <lead astray>, do violence, make desolate, and attack and wrestle and hurl upon the earth and <cause illnesses>. They eat nothing, but abstain from food and are thirsty and smite. These spirits (will) rise up against the sons of men and against the women, for they have come forth from them.
From the day of the slaughter and destruction and death of the giants, from the soul of whose flesh the spirits are proceeding, they are making desolate without (incurring) judgment. Thus they will make desolate until the day of the consummation of the great judgment, when the great age will be consummated.[i] (Emphasis added)
Now, there are good reasons that the Book of Enoch is not included in the canon of scripture. A good bit of what’s in Enoch can’t be confirmed by the Bible, and so the book as a whole should mainly be taken as evidence of what Jews of the Second Temple period (530 B.C.-70 A.D.) thought about the spirit realm.
But remember, that period of history includes the writings of the later prophets and the entire apostolic age, so Enoch is a helpful guide to understanding and adding context to what they wrote. If Enoch was completely unreliable, Jesus would have told the apostles and the Holy Spirit would have prevented all references to it. But that happens not to be the case. Jude quotes 1 Enoch 1:9 in verses 14 and 15 of his short epistle, and Enoch’s account of the origin of demons was the common belief among the early church fathers:
“And when the angels of God saw the daughters of men that they were beautiful, they took unto themselves wives of all of them whom they Chose.” Those beings, whom other philosophers call demons, Moses usually calls angels; and they are souls hovering in the air.
Philo, On the Giants 6
In my opinion, however, it is certain wicked demons, and, so to speak, of the race of Titans or Giants, who have been guilty of impiety towards the true God, and towards the angels in heaven, and who have fallen from it, and who haunt the denser parts of bodies, and frequent unclean places upon earth, and who, possessing some power of distinguishing future events, because they are without bodies of earthly material, engage in an employment of this kind, and desiring to lead the human race away from the true God.
Origen, Against Celsus 4.92 (emphasis added)
God…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 begot 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.
Justin Martyr, 2 Apology 5 (emphasis added)
Note that Justin Martyr understood that the angelic Watchers not only fathered the giants, who in turn became demons, they lured humans into worshiping them as gods and sowed the seeds of evil that matured into “all wickedness.”
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Now, here’s another link in the chain of evidence showing how classical Greece and Rome inherited much of its religion from the East—in this case, it appears, specifically from the Amorites.
The word “hero” has a much different meaning today than it did 2,000 years ago. For us, a hero is a soldier, a firefighter, a police officer, or a star athlete. To the ancient Greeks, a heros was a dead person who remained powerful in death and was therefore venerated by the living. Heroes were believed to be historical persons, often ancestors. Like the Amorite kings of Ugarit, then, the living could aspire to becoming a heros after death.[ii]
Heroes were expected (or feared) to show supernatural power after death. Epic heroes were elevated to the status of protector of their cities,[iii] such as Theseus at Athens and Herakles, under the Phoenician name Melqart, at Tyre.
So, it appears the Greeks inherited the Amorite practices of venerating the demigods, whom they considered their ancestors, and something like the kispumritual as well.[iv] What’s startling, however, is that this practice was brought into the Christian church by the well-intentioned but misguided Augustine:
Christian writers first accepted the term [daimones] and the concomitant belief in dangerous and demonic dead (Tertullian, De an. 49, 2). Augustine, however, argued for a positive connotation of the term and a differentiation from the negative daemones: in the Christian sense, heroes were the martyrs (CD 10, 21). This not only followed a use of the word already known in Christian poetry, but laid the theoretical foundation for the cult of the saints as the Christian hero cult.[v]
Did you catch that? Augustine, by trying to rehabilitate Greek hero worship, established the theological basis for canonizing and venerating saints, a practice that continues in Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches to this day.
And it can be linked directly to the Amorite Rephaim cult—worship of the Nephilim, the “mighty men who were of old.”
The bottom line: The Greek meropes anthropoi, who were the heroes of the Golden Age ruled by Kronos, were one and the same with the giants—the Nephilim. And just like the Rephaim venerated by the Amorites, the demigods of the Greeks received worship and sacrifices.
Funny how that part of the story never makes it into the movies or novels marketed to our kids.
[ii] Graf, F. (1999). Heros. In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed., p. 413). Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans.
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