Aeneas asked a question in a comment to an earlier post about the faked giant human skeleton:
I’d like you to comment on the dinosaur bones angle as well. It is certainly not an unreasonable theory for all the stories of giants in the past, including the Bible. I lean towards believing your theories on Gen. 6, but I think this one should at least be considered.
Aeneas (and others) may not be familiar with all my views of Genesis 6, namely the giant issue, so I thought I’d answer this question with a post.
I don’t think for a minute that the biblical giants were 10-20-30 feet tall. I think they were (like today) 6-8 feet tall. The giants of the Bible were not unusually tall BY OUR STANDARDS. Based on human skeletal remains that have been recovered from the biblical period (and there aren’t many – they didn’t embalm, and less than 10% of the Holy Land has been excavated by any standard of thoroughness), the average male height was a few inches over five feet tall, with women shorter. This is typical around the world for ancient times. Great height was unusual. The average height in modern times on into today is greater because of better nutrition, longer life spans, medical advances, etc. I personally don’t believe that the biblical giants were much over seven feet tall, which would have been HUGE compared to the norm (imagine walking into a settlement where 6-7 feet was the norm when everyone you knew was a foot shorter!). According to the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT, which has as a slightly different text than the one Jews have used since the first century AD) and Dead Sea Scroll readings for the Goliath story, Goliath was actually 6 feet 6 inches (and for those who wonder, it is Og of Bashan’s COFFIN that measures around 12 feet, not Og – read Deut 3:11 – so we really don’t know how tall he actually was — I’d guess he’s within my proposed range). That is the best reading for the original text based on the cumulative text-critical issues in 1 Sam 17-18 and the broader book of Samuel itself (i.e., textual critics have long known that the Masoretic text of 1 Samuel is in poor shape in many places, compared to the Septuagint, which is frequently agreed to by the Dead Sea scroll text of Samuel). If yo u know Hebrew and might enjoy reading about the textual mess of 1 Samuel, I’d recommend P. Kyle McCarter’s 1 Samuel commentary in the Anchor Bible series. There are more thorough and technical discussions of the text of 1 Samuel, but this one is more readable (still, it won’t be easy for those uninitiated in academic biblical studies and textual criticism).
Consequently, there is no need to appeal to dinosaur bones for the biblical giants. Dinosaur bones as the explanation for purported giants in non-biblical writings like Josephus are a good explanation. That issue was the subject of Adrienne Mayor’s Princeton dissertation (or maybe it was a thesis – can’t recall just now) which was published:
The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times.
Mayor now has a second volume, devoted to the same issue in Native American legends:
Fossil Legends of the First Americans
Good question, Aeneas!