Peeve of the Day

Maybe I’ve been reading too much paranormal fantasy lately, because you wouldn’t think this would be a thing I’d run into often enough to make me peevish.  Nevertheless, I do, and it does.

Listen to me, people.  Nephilim is not – I repeat, not – a singular noun.  It’s a plural noun (that –im bit is the marker), and the singular is naphil.

The same goes for seraphim and cherubim.  They’re plurals, too, and their singular forms are seraph and cherub, respectively.

If you’re going to mess around with Judaic and/or Christian esoterica, at least get the words right.  (Or as right as reasonably possible, anyhow, given that we’re talking about words that wouldn’t have been written in the Roman alphabet to start with.)

6 thoughts on “Peeve of the Day

  1. Yeah. Amazing how much urban theological fantasy is out there that’s utterly ignorant about theology, religious mythology, and basic etymology. It’s one thing if you deliberately choose not to address the profound religious problems of christian-themed demons running around on earth blowing stuff up because it’s light entertainment. No problem there. Seems like everyone just assumes manichaeism: fine. But it’s another thing if you have no clue you are writing heterodox fantasy to begin with, and you think it is doctrinally correct…. Using a word like “nephilim” as a singular noun is a marker of such casual ignorance.

    So James Blish knew full well what he was doing in Black Easter, and I think Richard Kadrey does too in his much sillier Sandman Slim series, but most of the books in this subsubgenre really seem to be quite clueless.

  2. The Manichean heresy is a remarkably persistent one — it keeps getting booted out of orthodox doctrine with extreme prejudice, and it keeps on sneaking in again, possibly because it doesn’t require the faithful to think about the grey areas.

    Most of the books in the subgenre, though, are less concerned with orthodoxy versus heterodoxy than they are with the idea of the sons of God getting it on (in lovingly-described paragraphs) with the daughters of men. Once in a while I find one that actually pays some attention to real-world, as opposed to fictional-universe, theology, and that’s pure gravy.

    1. Ha. Well at least there’s biblical documentation for angelic love children 🙂

      Presumably some scribe first putting down a telephone-game-distorted sumerian creation story into prose wondered who all these kids of Adam and Eve are supposed to marry and penciled in the nephilim. And if they’re not mortal, why shouldn’t they be kicking around today, cruising bars or hanging around bars in cruise ships as the case may be. Hm. If I write a suitably heterodox flash on this theme I’m pretty sure I can get it into DSF….

      1. The first three volumes in our Mageworlds series are me refuting the Manichean heresy. (Mani himself was a Zoroastrian, so Manicheanism started out as a Zoroastrian heresy. It’s since migrated to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. That’s one powerful heresy.)

        This is my Shameless Self-Promotion: my novel The Apocalypse Door* is as theologically correct as I could make it. As are the other Peter Crossman stories.

        *Buy one. Better still buy a dozen. Available in all the usual formats.

    2. What really turns the angels on is long hair on women. Which is why women need to cover their heads in church (because angels hang out there). An angel sees long hair and hoo-hah! Can’t control himself.

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