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Why Christian Fiction Writers Love the Nephilim

Christian speculative writers seem to have a love affair with the Nephilim. Don’t believe me? Here’s a sampling of some Christian titles that reference the Nephilim directly:

There’s quite a few more. There’s also many Christian fiction books which don’t mention the Nephilim directly in their title, but employ them in the story, like The Enclave by Karen Hancock, Immanuel’s Veins by Ted Dekker, and Spirit Fighter, a soon-to-be released YA entry from Jerel Law. About Law’s signing, the Charlotte Observer noted that Molly Hodgin, editorial director at Thomas Nelson, said that the publisher has received “many submissions about Nephilim.”

Apparently, the Nephilim are still a hot commodity among Christian fiction writers. But why?

I have a theory.

First, a primer. From the article Who Were the Nephilim?

The Nephilim were a race that came to dominate the antediluvian (pre-flood) world, and are referred to in the Bible as the heroes of old, men of renown. They were reportedly the children born to the “Sons of God” by the “daughters of men“, and are described as giants.

Confused yet? You should be. Some speculate that the “sons of God” mentioned here are actually angels who had intercourse with human women and produced a race of hybrids. That’s the more colorful side of the interpretation. However, the Nephilim are only mentioned twice in Scripture, and that rather vaguely. They aren’t central players in the biblical story, not even minor characters.

So why so much press from Christian fiction writers?

Here’s what I think: The reason why the Nephilim have become such a useful tool for Christian fiction writers is that it allows us to speculate and still remain (somewhat) biblical.

I’ve contended here before that one reason Christian speculative fiction is under-represented in the Christian market is because of theological concerns. Many believe that speculation is inherently un-Christian and that theology and speculation cut cross grain. Which is why it is not uncommon to see Christian reviewers using theology as a template for their fiction. (It’s why I was asked to include an Afterward in The Resurrection explaining a biblical rationale for using a ghost in the story.)

Which is why the Nephilim are so useful to Christian fiction writers.

On one hand: Nephilim ARE mentioned in Scripture. This is a huge boon to the Christian fiction writer who knows her story will be scrutinized through a doctrinal lens. Since the Nephilim are actually found in the Bible, it takes us off the hook of having to justify their inclusion in our fictional world.

On the other hand: Because it’s unclear exactly what the Nephilim are, there is freedom to speculate. And this, my friends, is what speculative fiction writers want to do!

Sure, not all Christian writers are fond of this overuse of the Nephilim, objecting that pseudopigraphical texts from intertestamental times are often appealed to. Nevertheless, by enlisting the Nephilim, Christian fiction writers can remain somewhat tethered to the Bible (which the Christian market demands) while having some room to speculate (which the spec-fic market demands). It’s the best of both world and why, I believe, Christian fiction writers love the Nephilim.

Do I have a point?

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{ 53 comments… add one }
  • mrdee May 25, 2013, 7:26 PM

    To strain at the nat and swallow the camel. He who has eyes but refuse to see it’s about judgment grace faith and salvation. He has judged in the past and will judge in the future.Christ the Ark only in him can we be saved from the judgment to come.

  • Doug Van Dorn June 2, 2013, 8:44 PM

    Too bad you didn’t look into NON-fiction before you wrote this, my book for example–Giants: Sons of the Gods. I spent more than a couple years studying this topic, building a bibliography of scholoarly sources, and writing a biblical-theology (non-fiction) of the Nephilim. I encourage anyone who thinks this is a topic of pure speculation or of little to no importance in the biblical story to go and read some of the reviews on Amazon and give the book a try. http://www.amazon.com/Giants-Sons-Gods-ebook/dp/B00B4GJABO/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

  • Steve June 2, 2013, 9:17 PM

    Read: Giants: Sons of the Gods by Douglas Van Dorn. Non-fiction. Nephilim are neither minor nor impossible to understand. In fact, they figure quite prominently in Biblical history for those who care to research the topic.

  • Nicholas Nieblas June 3, 2013, 3:53 PM

    @Julius and @Doug, I, of course, assume Mr. Duran will be getting a cut from any sales resulting from a click through his page, right? It is the Christian thing to do.

  • Lisa Godfrees June 3, 2013, 7:40 PM

    It’s not just in Christian fiction. The Nephilim show up a lot in secular fiction too. Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instrument series and the self-published Celestra series (don’t bother) being but two examples. People like stories with angels+humans, so it’s easy to see where Nephilim get their draw.

  • Kim June 4, 2013, 10:09 AM

    Because it’s unclear exactly what the Nephilim are, there is freedom to speculate.

    Bingo, baby!! That’s why we use it!! B/c we can do whatever we want with it, whenever we want. Be like Tolkien and create our own world, history, characters. 🙂 I’m a fantasy writer and I’m just drooool over this one each time I see it!!! Yummy!!!! Fantasy is all about taking the imaginative stuff and bringing it to the real world. Sigh . . . makes me think of the Elves.

  • Rebecca Posselt September 15, 2013, 9:19 AM

    I’m glad to have found this thread as I have searching high and low to find novels of historical fiction relating to fallen angels and the Nephilim. Most of which I do find, is highly cheesed out with the inclusion of vampires. I’m also in the process of writing a novel about this topic that takes the fallen angels from a more historical standpoint kind of akin to what Dan Brown has done. I do have to add though that I the idea or mention of fallen angels and especially Nephilim are indeed rare to find in the Bible. The Bible however is hardly a reference of accurate events as it was written by humans hundreds of years after Jesus died and most information was copied and copied and copied again with tons of errors. Many stories of that time period were left out the Bible for whatever reasons they had the time to include or exclude manuscripts. So the Bible is not the best reference for such a topic. The people who wrote the Bible did so the way they wanted to as not to include previous history that predated Jesus. For a reason, since according to the Bible, Jesus is only thing to know about. (sarcasm) If one digs earlier, you will find that the Book of Enoch goes into better detail.
    Great topic! What makes the fallen angels and nephilim so interesting to write about is because with scary or paranormal stories, people like to read about subject matter that might or could actually happen/come true.

  • Johanna January 2, 2014, 9:43 PM

    Nephilim the Remnants is a great Christian Fiction book that delves into the Nephilim of the Old Testament. Great Read!

  • Karen Clayton January 18, 2014, 3:50 PM

    When I chose to use nephilims for my middle grade urban fantasy, Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers, I had no idea that nephilims were so widely popular. I choose them because I wanted my characters to be magical and to all have good hearts, but by all means really misbehave. Nephilims are such fun characters hence the appeal.

  • AMS March 27, 2014, 7:56 PM

    Horror and Sci-fi movies have always scared me because while everyone else is reminding themselves “this is not real – it is made up”, I am thinking “there is nothing new under the heavens”. Hell will be sadder and scarier than anything I have seen or read. And Heaven will be better. With this in mind, who cares if dragons or unicorns or mermaids or giants are depicted as good or evil? It is really all about context. Does your giant or dragon bow to the Alpha and Omega? You who know The Lord and who are gifted to write fiction – just do it to the glory of a resurrected Jesus Christ and don’t sweat the rest. Consider all this juicy Old Testament material to be a gateway drug to the very relevant Gospel/New Testament “My ways are higher than your ways”.

  • Giracer April 10, 2014, 9:16 PM

    You do have a point, and I think it’s a very interesting one. Nephilim are not mentioned much, but their use in literature isn’t limited to Christian Speculation (Think Cassandra Clare, City of Bones) They are very interesting, and it’s some speculation on who they were, actually.

  • Alan R Joiner June 11, 2014, 2:30 PM

    My beliefs on the Nephilim are considered as strange as fiction. I happen to be one that believes the “Sons of God” were the fallen angels mentioned in Jude.

    In any event. I’ve enjoyed your blog for years, Mike, and decided to start interacting. Thanks for all the valuable content!

  • Dawn Wessel June 26, 2014, 7:43 PM

    I believe the Nephilim (the name really doesn’t exist in the Bible – the KJV calls them ‘giants’) were the products of the mixing somehow of the sons ‘of God’ and daughters ‘of men’.

    Sons of God is for sure another name for ‘angels’:
    “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” Job:1:6, & 2:1)

    Therefore, and somehow, superhuman beings somehow procreated with human women to produce the giants – that were on the earth at that time ‘and also after that’ (Gen. 6:4). Accounts of the giants that came ‘after’ are in the stories of David when he slew the giant Goliath (who had brothers-which David’s men killed).

    • JaredMithrandir May 30, 2015, 7:17 PM

      Actually I believe the term Nephilim applies to the fallen angels themselves rather then the offspring, which makes me different. The word means Fallen ones.

  • JaredMithrandir May 30, 2015, 3:10 AM

    It’s about the only way to write SciFi into a Christian worldview without getting as Calvnist and Gap Theoryish like C.S. Lewis.

    My own fiction will have hints it, but not revolve entirely around it.

    I hate Rob Skiba’s version of the Nephlim theory (It is incredibly Racist) but am very curious to see the TV show he’s trying to make.

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