Attack on Titan: Straight from the Old Testament

I’ve been totally floored by Attack on Titan, the new series this season about GIANTS.  Although our own Goldy wrote about the series’ potential, I wasn’t prepared for how riveting, exciting, and frightening this show would be.

Among other things I missed?  The connection to religion in the first two episodes (what do I do on this blog again?).

Justin, who has been comparing the manga to the anime, pointed out connections to religion in episode two, particularly.  Noteworthy is the street preacher who is entirely absent from the manga and the frightened people who call out to God as they witness the horrible events happening to their village.

The connection that stands out most though (and why shouldn’t they?) is the giants themselves.

Giants are the stuff of legend.  They are the enemies in fairytales (“Jack and the Beanstalk) and stuff of children’s nightmares (BFG).

But further, the Old Testament speaks of them as real.  The Pentateuch refers to the Nephilim, a race of giants in Canaan.  Examples of individuals of gigantic structure abound in the Bible, Goliath most famous among them.

The gigantic inhabitants of Canaan also play a role in the Israelites march to the Promised Land.  More specifically, reports of them scared the Israelites to death, leading to their rebellion against the leadership.  Matt’s Bible Blog points out what happens because of the Israelites’ disobedience and disbelief:

And as a result, Israel spends another forty years in the desert. The generation that grew up on stories about the might and Egypt and giants pass away; a generation grows up whose formative memory is God saving his people. The only adult survivors of that first generation were Joshua and Caleb, two men who started telling that new story in the first place.

They needed to become a nation of survivors, not of victims.

Survivors instead of victims…fighting giants instead of running from them…what anime does that resemble?

Further comparing “Attack on Titan” with the biblical account, the villagers, including the guardsmen, largely play the role of the disobedient Israelites.  Not that I can judge them as better than I.  After all, wouldn’t complacency, especially after 100 years of giant-free living, be normal?  And it’s certainly expected to be fearful, especially when seeing or hearing of such a foe.  They have the typical reaction – one that ends up in a misjudgement of, well, biblical proportions.

But as with Caleb and Joshua, there are those living among the giants that have faith.  While Caleb and Joshua have faith in God, Eren has a different type of faith – in his own abilities and, it seems, in justice and righteousness.  I imagine that as he trains, we’ll see a more faithful generation raised up that accomplishes the goals that the previous were too afraid to, marching out into battle against an enemy that is beyond them.

Now, it’s just left to see if Eren and the others can lead the humans into their Promised Land.

41 thoughts on “Attack on Titan: Straight from the Old Testament

  1. Wonderful connection that I had not considered.

    This series is looking to be fantastic (perhaps the best of the season), so it makes me happy to know that you are watching and analyzing it.

    1. Very exciting – this is the only series, other than Chihayafuru, that I’m finding myself really anticipating each week.

  2. 😛 at least you are watching this awesome anime…. I must say i was really taken aback by the opening episode. you don’t get such riveting 1st episode these days.

  3. Sounds like it’s far better than the manga. The manga I found really boring even after four volumes of it. Apart from the conceit with the titans, it moved too slowly to retain my interest.

  4. In the manga, religion is created the year the titans attack and breach the wall, but they could easily have decided to introduce it earlier in the anime.

    1. Perhaps, though the Bible gives actual measurements at some point. I’ll always side with scripture ahead of modern interpretations that try to reconcile ideas or give into societal pressures, unless of course those ideas have some strong support – biblical as well as extrabiblical (ex. science, archeology, etc.).

      I have some archeological sources at home…you’ve encouraged me to dig in and see if I can find anything related to this topic. Thanks! 🙂

        1. Ha! Well, that could be possible. It would certainly have been even more a swing for men of short stature everywhere.

  5. After seeing the first episode, I got hooked and finished the manga of SnK in a day. It’s a great piece, really. I wonder how many seasons will this run for(Hoping for at least 2 seasons a.k.a 25-ish episodes). The biblical connection made in this post is great, and something I never considered before.

    1. Thanks for the kind words!

      That would be nice to get that many episodes. I’m definitely intrigued by the series, which is probably my favorite so far this season!

  6. I’ve recently been hooked on this anime myself!

    As for Nephilim, there are a lot of Jewish/Hebrew apocrypha that go into greater detail about the Nephilim (much more so than any book in the Septuagint). According to some Hebrew lore, a Nephil had shoulders as broad as a hill, he towered over the tallest tree, he could lay waste to a village with a few lashes of his arms, and he had hair as black as a new moon.

    Though Goliath was considered a giant, many religious scholars discard the assumption he was a Nephil because the race was supposedly destroyed during the Great Flood in the time of Noah.

    1. Oh gosh, yes, this is an addicting series! And thank you for adding some additional context to the conversation! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comments! I don’t accept the Book of Enoch as scripture, though it’s interesting to read about the descriptions presented from it.

  7. I’m in the process of writing a fan-fiction about the first Expedition Outside the Walls, and (as a Christian) I naturally gravitate towards connecting whatever story I write to God. I just started writing it today and it finally struck me how similar they are to Nephilim, and how easily Attack on Titan could be an interesting anime spin-off of a time before The Flood. Again, its just a spin-off at most, but my mind has completely exploded from this revelation.

  8. Hi, really great connections there! I’ve never even considered it before. You also got me to speculate a little bit too 😉 In the bible it says that Goliath’s weak spot was on his forehead (presumably because he was covered in armor and the forehead was the only part which wasn’t protected by armor). And the titans have one weak spot too, their neck. I think they moved the weak spot from the forehead to the neck because otherwise a titan could just a grab a human, and when they’re gonna eat him the human slice the titan in the forehead. It would be too easy. And instead of armor over their bodies they have regenerating bodies.

    1. Those are definitely some interesting points. Certainly, if someone sat down and really looked at Attack on Titan, I think he or she could write a book (or at least a super long essay) on comparisons such as these.

  9. I don’t believe nephilim are real anymore (no offense to those that do), but I’m commenting simply because it’s good to see that there are Christians that have no problem publicly displaying their admiration for anime. The dichotomy between “sacred/divine” bothers me to no end. That being said, Attack on Titan captivated me from episode one, and instead of reading more of Gorman’s “Revelation for Everyone”, I may start it again tonight. We’ll see. 🙂


  10. People were the same size back then as they are now. Nephilim were anywhere from over 7ft to 30ft and possibly larger than that.

  11. As soon as I considered the connection with the giants and Caleb, I arrived at the same conclusion. At first, I had only thought of the giant Goliath, but after hearing about the popularity of the anime, I began a small study on the mention of giants in the Bible.

    However, recommending this anime is something that I simply cannot do. I loved the fact that it lacks all form of disgusting fan service, in addition to the fact that Mikasa is a strong female role, the entire show is full of filthy communication. I would completely understand the necessity of adding gore (since it is a sort of military tale; yet even then some episodes left me wondering, “Why am I allowing this into my life?”), but the cursing is pervasive throughout. Because of this, to me, this anime is very overrated.

    Sometimes I wish that someone would make cleaner subtitles in the episodes.

    1. I definitely understand the cursing. It can be tough to handle, and some subtitlers certainly go in a coarser direction that I dislike.

      It can be tough to balance what we see in a series that is sinful and whether or not it’s something we can choose to consume. You already mentioned your personal point of view when it comes to media in another comment, but certainly we all differ in what we’re able to accept – and this is biblical. But even so, for those that trend toward being more open to all sorts of media, it’s easy to walk a slippery slope into turning toward sin as one is influenced by such shows and series.

  12. I just started watching this anime too and it immediately made me think of the Nephilim. And to those who think Goliath or Og was the largest, consider verses like Numbers 13:33 “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

    They were horrified of these beings and gave up any hope after seeing them. A lot of people think that the Bible just exaggerates when describing things but I believe they were not in this case. These were not simply slightly larger humans, they truly were abominable, massive giant beings, and that is why God commanded them to be wiped out – their children included.

    But I believe before the flood it was even worse. As mentioned in another post, many extra-Biblical texts speak of massive giants who were eating humans and that, along with all the other corruption, was the reason God had to bring the flood to kill them all.

    And yeah, it’s very interesting because there is actually archaeological evidence of them as well. Bones, massive weapons, etc. But much of this has been covered up lately as the devil doesn’t want people thinking much beyond his current evolutionary paradigm.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Brian. I love digesting all this kind of stuff, especially when it comes to archeology, as I work with a number of archeologists!

  13. Actually Og of bashan is also a giant. Amos 2:9 what some people know or forgoteen. Is taller than Goliath.

    1. Hi Isabel, we would be happy to help you with talking about anime with your mom. Feel free to contact us directly via this form with more specific details so we can get a better understanding of your situation. We also have an informational page set up for parents here. I hope to hear from you soon.

  14. It’s 2019 and I just started watching AOT. I am completely hooked at this point. When I noticed the biblical connections I knew that I had to check out this site and see if you guys had written something about it, and thankfully you did!
    I’ll keep watching and reading the other posts!

  15. I dislike gory movies and shows like Game of Thrones, for example. In fact, when I saw trailers and reviews of GOT just to know what it was about I was completely disgusted. I just hate GOT. Not to talk about all the nudity and pornography in it.

    However, something different happened with AOT. At first I thought I was not going be able to tolerate the gory parts, but as I read more about what the show was about, and started analysing the underlying phylosophy and pressupositions I got really into it. Plus the main characters are really interesting to me.

    IT’s not like now I am calloused at all those bloody scenes because I’d still rather have those scenes cut, but for some reason is not making me stop watching it like what happened with GOT. There are other animes that I definately cannot swallow but this one has been the exception by far.

    I read some people compare it to GOT, and I was like please… dont do that to me lol.

    1. I don’t think GoT is a good comparison with AoT—other than the shock value in both series, the approaches and themes are vastly different. Although I’m a fan of Game of Thrones, I understand your dislike of the series—and I’m glad to see that you’re enjoying Attack on Titan. It’s a show that evolves quite a bit, and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the current season.

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