Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

“When the most high gave each nation its heritage,” declares Deuteronomy 32:8, “when he divided all mankind, he laid down the boundaries for peoples according to the sons of Israel.” A Dead Sea Scroll fragment containing this verse, however, has the phrase “sons of God” instead of “sons of Israel.” The Dead Sea Scroll fragment apparently retains a more original form of the text. (The Septuagint, the third-to-second-century B.C.E. translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, also has “sons of God.”) The early church father Justin Martyr, who apparently used a text that preserved “sons of God,” believed that these sons of God were angels, to whom God had entrusted the care of human beings. Justin Martyr also believed, based on Genesis 6 (which tells of the sons of God taking human women as wives) that the offspring of the sons of God and the women were demons. It was these demons, in Justin’s view, who were worshiped by the ancients as the classical gods. Zeus, to whom the altar at Pergamon was dedicated, was the leader of the demons, according to Justin, and equivalent to Satan.