Modern Christian Mythology: Giants Lived in the Past
Giants in the Past
People do believe some odd things. And for some odd reasons. When I was young, for instance, I had heard from adults around me that, at one time, there were giants living on earth. It’s true, you know!
The past existence of giants wasn’t believed because of any extant evidence (very large human bones, for instance), but rather because of a story that appears in the Hebrew Bible. In 1 Samuel, the character of Goliath fights a young David, future kind of Judea.
The story, tough, is more likely myth than history. We think this because of a couple of issues.
Firstly, the famous battle between David and Goliath does not appear to be the original appearance of the Goliath character. Hidden away in another section of Samuel (well after most readers have glazed over into a catatonic state) it is mentioned that the giant Goliath was slain by a soldier named named Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim (2 Samuel 21:19). Since the accomplishments of an unknown individual will be credited to a known individual more often than the reverse, we have reason to believe that the battle with Goliath was credited to David as a result of legendary embellishment at a later date.
Secondly, the height of Goliath, it seems, has been greatly exaggerated. Up until 1948, the oldest copy of the Hebrew Bible that we had were the Masoratic texts, which were from the medieval period. In that version, Goliath clocks in at amazing 9 1/2 feet tall. In 1948, however, the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Hebrew scriptures dating from the 1-2nd century BCE, gave us an older, thereby closer to the original, version. The description of Goliath in those copies had Goliath described as 6.5 ft tall, Still tall for a people that didn’t eat a lot of meat, just far short of any world records.
A desire to believe in giants despite the lack of evidence lead to one of my favorite frauds of all time: the Cardiff Giant
To hear an actual archeologist talk about the sorts of things that people mistake for evidence of giants, as well as the history behind the Cardiff Giant, listen to Dr Ken Feder being interviewed on an entertaining episode of Monster Talk.Explore posts in the same categories: Modern Christian Mythology
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