Created: September 9, 2015
Revised:Synopsis Sept 2017  

The Creation Narrative of Science and the Bible

Dr. David C. Bossard

Dr. David C. Bossard
Biographical Information

XIII. "Giants in the Land"
Remarks on Humans and Neanderthals

There were giants (nephilim)XIII.01 in the earth in those days; and also after that,
when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of menXIII.02, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Genesis 6:4

One reason to extend the Creation Narrative to include Genesis 6 and the Flood is that this is the final step in the Bible's Creation Narrative to define the human race: all humans, according to this account, are descendents of Noah through his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It may reasonably be assumed that these men and their wives and families are all pure descendents of Adam through SethXIII.03, without any other blood lines entering into the genetic mix. The subject of this chapter seems to involve the introduction of a different blood line.XIII.04

Humans are classified in the genus Homo. Since about 125 Ka there were only two members of this genus: Homo sapiens (also called AMH = anatomically modern human), and Homo neanderthalensis. A lot of information about the culture and intellectual capacity of these two lines can be learned from various artifacts that are associated with these lines.  The outstanding fact of interest to us is that somewhere around 50-40 Ka , Homo sapiens shows a dramatic change in cultural attainment (Homo sapiens sapiens?), reflected in excellent and subtle artwork such as the Chauvet cave paintings, 32 Ka (first discovered December, 1994), and in the Lascaux Cave paintings, 17.7 Ka (constellations and a sky chart, discovered in 1943). This indicates that the creation of Adam (the first of the AMH) may have been shortly before this time.

At times Neanderthals may have lived near to humans. For example, two archaeological sites in Southern France, Lascaux Cave (AMH) and le Moustier (Neanderthal) are in the same river valley and separated by about 20 miles.

Map of le Moustier and Lascaux

le Moustier and Lascaux
from a map of Southern France Archaeological Sites.XIII.00

Since the record of Neanderthals ends around 25 Ka, this leads to the question of whether humans and Neanderthals may have intermixed. The next section discusses this question.
Could the nephilim be identified as Neanderthals? The issue is relevant because of the possibility that the geological record suggests that Neanderthals may have coexisted with Adam's descendents for a period of time until—according to the current evidence of paleoanthropology—Neanderthals disappear from the geological record about 25 KaXIII.05.

It is clear from the first verses of Genesis 6, that some sort of outside race, the "giants" or nephilim in vs. 4, intermarried with the Adamic line.XIII.06  Who were these nephilim? Nobody knows for sure, and speculations abound. I will contribute to this speculation and suggest that the nephilim are Neanderthals. This implies two things, which future archeoanthopology may confirm or refute: that Neanderthals and humans (AMH) mingled in some sense, and that "marriage" between these two races was both possible and resulted in fertile offspringXIII.07.

There are substantial differences between the Neanderthal and Human physical features. Perhaps the most evident is that the Neanderthals were stronger than humans -- the placement of the skeletal muscles was somewhat different and resulted in this greater strength.XIII.08  It would not be surprising that mixed marriages (if fertile) would result in "mighty men".

In addition, it seems pretty clear from the above map that neanderthals and humans may have mingled or at least co-habited the same regions and possibly overlapped in time. Lascaux Cave (definitely a human habitation and possibly dating from as early as 32 KaXIII.09), is about 10 miles from le Moustier, both sites overlooking the Vézère River in Southern France.

Adding to this, it has long been known that the words translated "sons of God" and "daughters of men" may have other meanings—in fact, almost the opposite! The "sons of God" are sons of elohim, a word that is sometimes used of judges, princes or (a race of?) mighty menXIII.10, and might (I suggest) refer to Neanderthals. The "daughters of men" is literally "daughters of adam" and may mean "daughters of Adam". This verse may thus describe the forcible abduction of human women by Neanderthal raiders, with offspring resulting.

Recent research has some remarkable and unexpected contributions to this question. In 1997, some actual mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was obtained from a 39 Ka Neanderthal shoulder bone, and subsequent analysis has concluded that Neanderthals are NOT ancestors to modern humansXIII.11. This was a conclusion hard-fought over the next decade, because many scientists assumed the opposite, namely, that humans must have either come from or intermixed with Neanderthals. The reason for the conclusion is that mtDNA is passed on by the mother, not the father, and the analysis of the Neanderthal DNA showed that it was about halfway between human and chimpanzee mtDNA, far too "distant" to be related to humans.

Genesis 6:4 (with the above understanding of "sons of God" and "daughters of men") states that human daughters mated with Neanderthal sons, resulting in "mighty men". Only the  daughters pass on mitochondria through the egg, so the mating would only pass on the human (female) mitochondrial dna.

But if such a hybrid race did appear, it is then quite clear why God may have judged that a universal flood was needed to rid the human race of the Neanderthal contamination. By restricting the survivors of the flood to humans who had not had Neanderthal ancestors, the Adamic race would be preserved. This would also give a rational reason for the restriction in marriage to descendents of the Adamic line.XIII.13

In conclusion, I suggest that Genesis 6 records the unfortunate cross-mating of these two homo species, but that the line from Adam leading to Noah had remained uncontaminated by Neanderthal DNA. Only the un-mixed line from Adam survived the flood, and so no modern humans have Neanderthal ancestry.

The only mention of the nephilim after the flood is probably an exaggeration in the fear-filled report of the spies sent to explore Canaan during the Exodus.

  [*fn]XIII.00 The full map is here from Don Hitchcock, Don's Maps: Southern France Archaeological Sites.

[*fn]XIII.01 The nephilim. The word appears in only one other place in the Bible (Numbers 13:33)—probably an exaggeration brought back to Joshua by fearful spies. In my view the nephilim were destroyed in the Flood.

[*fn]XIII.02  I suggest the translation should be: "when the sons of the mighty men [elohim ?= Neanderthals] came in unto the daughters of Adam (adam = man)" See Allan A. MacRae, Old Testament History (2016) p. 261ff—The Flood. He gives various optional interpretations. But regarding the option "Descendants of Seth marrying descendants of Cain" he remarks "We don't, I think, have anywhere in the Scriptures, as far as I know, a statement that all of Cain's sons are ungodly; I imagine that most of them were. Nor a statement that all of Seth's descendants were godly, though we know that some of them were; and we don't know of anywhere in the Scripture a command that these two lines should remain permanently separate from one another." (p. 263) In conclusion (p.264) Dr. MacRae states that "I don't see any evidence that it is true; that is all, that these are the descendants of Cain and the descendants of Seth. I don't know why they should be called sons of God and daughters of man. It is purely a conjecture; it may be a correct one, but I know of no reason to think that it is. It may mean something entirely different that we are not familiar with." ... such as, I suggest, the human race (in the image of God) mating with Neanderthals (not gifted with the image of God).

[*fn]XIII.03  The Biblical records of Jewish history are adamant regarding marriage, that it must be marriage "in the family"—within the Jewish race (or in the case of Genesis 6, restricted to descendents of Adam). Thus, I assert, the Adamic line through Noah (and his marriage partner) would be "pure" in the sense that all ancestors of Noah would have been sons of Adam, and probably also sons of Seth, although it is possible that some ancestors (through marriage) may have been descendents of Cain.

[*fn]XIII.04   Scofield notes on this verse, "The uniform Hebrew and Christian interpretation has been that verse 2 marks the breaking down of the separation between the godly line of Seth and the godless line of Cain." But were the descendents of Cain necessarily "godless"? See Allan A. MacRae, op. cit. Note XIII.02.

[*fn]XIII.05  One must realize, of course, that all dates from geological artifacts apply to those specific objects. The dates of various cultures—Neanderthal or Human—will usually extend both earlier and later than the dates of the specific objects, but that is all we have to go on. Thus ranges of dates of various humanoid cultures are always tentative. When we assert that Neanderthals vanished from the scene about 25 Ka, what that means is that the most recent artifacts associated with the Neanderthal cultures are from that date. The Neanderthals could have been around for some (necessarily indeterminate) time after that.

What identifies human culture is artifacts that show careful  planning, such as dressed (shaped) spear tips. Before humans, such tips appear to have been discovered by accident—by striking a rock to get chips that may or may not be suitable as spear tips. Dressed stones show evidence of deliberate design and planning, human traits. The Chauvet cave art (about 32,000 BC) shows very advanced and realistic figures, which indicated careful thought and planning in the execution, indicating human activity. The Lascaux cave art similarly shows advanced thinking, and is taken as the work of fully developed humans.

[*fn]XIII.06  It is not clear (based on present research) that such a mating would produce offspring.

[*fn]XIII.07 Unlike, for example, the mating of a horse and donkey to yield a sterile mule.

[*fn]XIII.08  Origins of Humankind (PBS) "Neanderthal bones are thick and heavy and show signs of powerful muscle attachments. Neanderthals most likely would have been extraordinarily strong by modern standards, and their skeletons show that they endured brutally hard lives." Schrenk & Müller, The Neanderthals (2008), p.57 "On the whole, Neanderthal bones were far more strongly built than those of modern humans ... Their shoulder area shows evidence of totally differen muscle starting surfaces than in people today." p. 58: "the multitude of differences ... make it plain that we are dealing with two different species, Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis." See a comparison of Human and Neanderthal skeletal features from Don's Maps (Don Hitchcock).

[*fn]XIII. 09 This is the time that the first true humans are known from the geological record—two skulls at le Moustier date to about 40Ka, Chauvet cave is dated about 32Ka and Lascaux cave paintings date from about 19.3 Ka. The Lascaux paintings were painted over earlier paintings, "The oldest were probably painted around 30,000 BC, making them about 32000 years old."

[*fn]XIII.10 See, for example the use of "elohim" for "judge" in I Sam. 2:25, also Ps. 82:6, "I have said, ye are elohim."

[*fn]XIII.11  Richard E. Green, et al.,  Complete Neanderthal Mitochondrial Genome Sequence, Cell, June 21, 2008. See also Neanderthals Didn't Mate with Modern Humans, Study Says, National Geographic News, August 12, 2008. See also the Smithsonian web page on Neanderthal Mitochondrial DNA: "The Neanderthal mtDNA sequences were substantially different from modern human mtDNA." However mtDNA samples of Cro Magnon [the now-disused term for AMH—dcb] specimens dated 25-23,000 BP "were within the range of variation for modern human mtDNA sequences."

[*fn]XIII.12 whether the pure Adamic line is the "sons of God" or the "sons of Man" in v. 2 is of no consequence to this argument, but note that "man" is 'adam (אָדָם), so that "daughters of men" could be read as "daughters of Adam". Note also that the "sons of God" are sons of Elohim, which is a word that can also refer to "mighty men" or "men of renown", possibly referring to Neanderthals rather than to God. See, for example the use of "elohim" for "judge" in I Sam. 2:25, also Ps. 82:6, "I have said, ye are elohim."

[*fn]XIII.13   Some authors have questioned the implied "incest" among the immediate descendents of Adam and Eve. In my view this is a non-issue, because the original parents would have (it is presumed) genetic material that was not compromised by the damages of time. The practical prohibition against incest is because of the risk of amplifying the effects of such damage. That would not apply to the earliest generations after Adam.

XIII.14 [*fn]XIII.14 Note for XIII.14
XIII.15 [*fn]XIII.15 Note for XIII.15

XIII.16 [*fn]XIII.16 Note for XIII.16

XIII.17 [*fn]XIII.17 Note for XIII.17

XIII.18 [*fn]XIII.18 Note for XIII.18

XIII.19 [*fn]XIII.19 Note for XIII.19

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