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Devils and Demons and the Return of the Nephilim Paperback – June 16, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
I found it difficult to know where to start with this critique so I'll begin with the sub-title "Rediscovering the Hebrew roots of our Faith". If this is what you really want to do then this book is not the one you should be starting with. To do that read Marvin Wilson "Our Father Abraham"; Oskar Skarsaune "In the shadow of the Temple" and Brad Young "Meet the Rabbi's". Also investigate the excellent material from "First Fruits of Zion", "En-Gedi Resource Centre" and other serious but accessible academics and speakers like David Bivin and Dwight Pryor.
This book which is written in a very easy to read style began with much promise, but I quickly grew uneasy as it progressed. It makes some very interesting statements as facts, but there were not adequate references (to my satisfaction) to back up or support what was being said. I was therefore never really sure that I could trust what they were claiming. This became more important as the book developed and moved into areas that the authors themselves admitted were controversial. They also make extensive use of the Book of Enoch to support their ideas. I know both Peter and Jude selectively quoted from Enoch, but that does not mean that we can do so freely and uncritically.
The book starts dealing with the language and culture of the second Temple period, and rightly stresses the importance of understanding this when reading and interpreting the scriptures. The next chapters on various types of Covenants and Betrothal are all very interesting but I would like to have known more about their sources to confirm and support the ideas that they were developing. This is important as their covenant themes are referred to throughout this and the following books.
I was very uneasy with the next chapter on "devils, demons and the nephilim". They admit that they are being controversial but I do not think that their case for demons being the departed spirits/souls of the nephilim is at all convincing or safe. I also felt that they were on dangerous ground with their treatment in Myths and Legends from around the world and what they call "counter-covenant". Moses was emphatic that we were not to enquire into how the pagans worshiped "their gods" and not to apply their principles to our faith (Deut 12:29-32). I am unhappy with a perspective which suggests that everything satan does has been copied from the true God, so there must be some truth in it. Even if that were true, it ignores the possibility that the truth has been so distorted that it is impossible to discern what that truth was. Best stick to what God has chosen to reveal than guess through what satan has "copied". Given that caveat I realise that some legends can be helpful in the corroboration of biblical stories like the flood, but I believe caution is advised where the bible is not so explicit.
There is a chapter on the Menorah and the tabernacle in which they blend in their thoughts on the various covenants. Without more references it was difficult to discern what was from an overactive imagination, and what was from genuine research. I understand the menorah theme will return in volume 2 as they attempt to expound on the Book of Revelation.
The book's chapter on the Festivals is too superficial for my liking and leaves too many gaps. I would advise anyone interested in the Festivals to read several of the many other books which are dedicated exclusively to them instead. The authors do concede that they have been unable to go into as much depth as they would like in all their subjects and suggest that more will be revealed in volume two.
There is also a chapter which tries to marry the science of colours and what is claimed to be their meanings in the scriptures. This is then linked with the different covenants God made with various men and mankind, and interpretations are made from this. Hmmmm.
Some of the statements made suggested that the authors' outlook and research was restricted. For instance they refer to the days of the week being named after Hellenistic or Scandinavian deities. This is true in English, but not all languages. In Spanish and Portuguese for example, "Saturday" is named "Sabado" -from the Hebrew Sabbath. This meant that some assumptions applied to Anglo-American culture, but not for others. In this internet age when book markets are now truly "global", I think we should take more care. It can undermine your argument when you are read by people who live where what you say is not true.
Overall I felt the scholarship in this book was amateur. When making new and controversial claims, you really have to have better references from kosher sources to support your position. I intend to read volume two, but am going to be on my guard. I certainly would not recommend this book to any one new to Christianity or to the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith. I am reminded of the advice of the sages concerning the first two chapters of Ezekiel. These are read at Shavuot/Pentecost which includes celebrating the giving of Torah. The advice is not to seek mystical experiences or revelation until you are first firmly grounded in Torah or scriptures. In line with this I would counsel leaving this book until you had several years of reading other foundational sources such as mentioned at the beginning of this review.