Are giants real? It’s a question that’s been asked throughout human history.
As it so happens, a former elected official in Oregon recently claimed to have spotted one with his own eyes:
“Giants are freakin’ real, I don’t care what anybody says,” former Sweet Home council member James Goble insists in the video.
Regardless of what Goble saw, there’s a reason that his story has resonated with people: the creatures we call giants have a strong place in the human imagination.
Giants have a long and fascinating history – and one that is deeply entwined with religion. In fact, they represent an interesting point of commonality across widely divergent faith systems.
These colossal beings have appeared as major characters in the mythologies and religious texts of diverse cultures all around the world, dating back thousands of years.
With giants on the mind, we decided to delve into the history of giants in mythology and religious belief, shedding light on their diverse roles and significance across different faith traditions.
Giants in Jewish Scriptures
Jewish scriptures, particularly the Bible, provide a fascinating glimpse into the presence of giants known as Nephilim. Genesis 6:4-5 recounts their existence before and after the Great Flood, describing them as mighty and destructive figures – offspring resulting from the union between the "sons of God" and human daughters.
The Bible also mentions other giant-like beings such as the Anakites, Emites, and Rephaites – but none more famous than the Philistine giant named Goliath.
Interestingly, according to the historian Josephus (writing in the first century A.D.), Goliath wasn’t actually that tall, at least by modern standards. He reportedly stood "four cubits and a span" tall, or roughly six feet, seven inches.
Giants in Jewish scriptures symbolize the tension between good and evil, with heroic figures like David overcoming formidable adversaries.
New Evidence of Giants Unsurfaced?
Christian scriptures also reference giants in the context of the Nephilim from Genesis 6:4.
In fact, experts say they may have found evidence of Nephilim in the Golan Heights, in modern-day Israel.
According to the Book of Enoch, a source dating back to the second century BCE and attributed to the great-grandfather of Biblical Noah, it was at Mount Hermon that the Nephilim were cast out from heaven and sent to dwell upon the Earth. This region, known as the Bashan, is notably the place where Og, the formidable king, confronted the Israelites during their journey into the Promised Land.
A new docu-series called "Angels & Giants, The Watchers & Nephilim" explores these connections, and the potential evidence for the existence of Biblical giants.
Goliath Grows in Christian Teachings
Goliath makes an appearance in the King James Bible as well, although in this version he is described as "six cubits and a span" tall, which translates to over nine feet.
If true, that would put him firmly in “giant” territory, even today.
But the Bible is far from the only religious text to reference these larger-than-life creatures.
Giants in Hinduism
Hinduism features giants known as Daityas, the offspring of ancient creation figures Diti and Kashyapa. Daityas often opposed the gods (also known as Devas) out of jealousy.
These power-seeking beings occasionally formed alliances with groups holding similar ideologies, such as Danavas and Asuras, and were collectively referred to as “Rakshasas,” a term used to describe demons in Hindu mythology.
Prominent Daityas include Hiranyakashipu, Hiranyaksha, and the formidable Ravana. It’s unclear exactly how tall Ravana was, but his younger brother, named Kumbhakarna, was allegedly “as tall as a mountain” according to Hindu myth.
Giants in Greek Mythology
Greek mythology introduces us to a similar yet distinct class of giants known as "Titans." The Titans were the primordial beings who preceded the Olympian gods and goddesses.
While not as gigantic in stature as some other mythical giants, they were still immensely powerful. The most famous Titan is probably Cronus, who famously overthrew his father, Uranus, and was later dethroned by his own son, Zeus. The Titanomachy, a great war between the Titans and the Olympian gods, is a central event in Greek mythology that symbolizes the transition from one divine era to another.
The Greeks believed that some of these vanquished giants, like Enceladus, were buried deep underground when all was said and done. The tormented creatures would occasionally try to break free – and such was their strength that they would shake the earth, causing volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Other examples in Greek mythology include the Cyclopes, one-eyed children of Olympian gods, who were said to be of enormous size. Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon, is identified as a cyclops in Homer’s Odyssey.
Giants in Roman Mythology
In Roman mythology, the theme of giants is embodied in the Jupiter Columns – enormous artistic pillars built by the Romans that reflect the religious beliefs of their time.
Among the many produced are pillars that feature statues of Jupiter, the god of sky and thunder, defeating giants – often symbolized as snakes.
The giants represented formidable forces that were vanquished by divine power, a narrative that reflected the triumph of Roman gods over chaos and disorder.
Giants in Norse Mythology
Norse mythology, originating from the Germanic tribes of northern Europe, presents a vivid portrayal of giants. In this tradition, giants are known as "Jotnar" or "Jotunn," and they are often depicted as immense, formidable beings who dwell in the realm of Jotunheim.
The most famous giant in Norse mythology is probably Ymir, the primordial giant from whose body the world was created.
Giants like Thrym and Skrymir are also prominent figures in Norse myths, where they frequently clash with the gods of Asgard, including Thor and Odin. These stories reflect the ongoing struggle between order and chaos, with giants representing the chaotic forces threatening the stability of the cosmos.
The Significance of Giants Today
The ubiquity of giants in world mythologies and religious traditions underscores their enduring fascination in human culture. These massive beings, whether representing primordial chaos, challenges to be overcome, or the eternal struggle between good and evil, continue to captivate the human imagination.
Across the globe, giants stand as potent symbols that enrich the tapestry of our collective storytelling heritage, offering profound insights into the human experience and our quest to comprehend the mysteries of existence.