The psalmist declared that God presides over an assembly of divine beings (Psa. 82:1). Who are they? What does it mean when those beings participate in God’s decisions (1 Kings 22:19–23)? Why wasn’t Eve surprised when the serpent spoke to her? Why are Yahweh and his Angel fused together in Jacob’s prayer (Gen. 48:15–16)? How did descendants of the Nephilim (Gen. 6:4) survive the flood (Num. 13:33)? What are we to make of Peter and Jude’s belief in imprisoned spirits (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6)? Why does Paul describe evil spirits in terms of geographical rulership (thrones, principalities, rulers, authorities)? Who are the “glorious ones” that even angels dare not rebuke (2 Pet. 2:10–11)? Dr. Michael Heiser explores these biblical questions in The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible.
The Unseen Realm presents the fruit of Dr. Heiser’s fifteen years of research into what the Bible really says about the unseen world of the supernatural. His goal is to help readers view the biblical text unfiltered by tradition or by theological presuppositions. He presents a clear biblical theology that cuts through our modern worldview that tends to ignore the unseen world. “People shouldn’t be protected from the Bible,” Dr. Heiser says. But theological systems often do just that, by “explaining away” difficult or troublesome passages of Scripture because their literal meaning doesn’t fit into our tidy systems.
In The Unseen Realm, Michael Heiser shines a light on the supernatural world—not a new light, but rather the same light the original, ancient readers—and writers—of Scripture would have seen it in, given their historical and cultural milieu. This light allows today’s pastors and scholars to understand the biblical authors’ supernatural worldview by presenting a biblical theology that embraces, rather than avoids, the unseen realm.
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This is a “big” book in the best sense of the term. It is big in its scope and in its depth of analysis. Michael Heiser is a scholar who knows Scripture intimately in its ancient cultural context. All—scholars, clergy, and laypeople—who read this profound and accessible book will grow in their understanding of both the Old and New Testaments, particularly as their eyes are opened to the Bible’s “unseen world.”
—Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College
“How was it possible that I had never seen that before?” Dr Heiser’s survey of the complex reality of the supernatural world as the Scriptures portray it covers a subject that is strangely sidestepped. No one is going to agree with everything in his book, but the subject deserves careful study, and so does this book.
—John Goldingay, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary
There is a world referred to in the Scripture that is quite unseen, but also quite present and active. Michael Heiser’s The Unseen Realm seeks to unmask this world. Heiser shows how prevalent and important it is to understand this world and appreciate how its contribution helps to make sense of Scripture. The book is clear and well done, treating many ideas and themes that often go unseen themselves. With this book, such themes will no longer be neglected, so read it and discover a new realm for reflection about what Scripture teaches.
—Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement, Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement. Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
“Since foreknowledge doesn’t require predestination, foreknown events that happen may or may not have been predestined.” (Page 65)
“The proper context for interpreting the Bible is the context of the biblical writers—the context that produced the Bible.1 Every other context is alien to the biblical writers and, therefore, to the Bible. Yet there is a pervasive tendency in the believing Church to filter the Bible through creeds, confessions, and denominational preferences.” (Page 16)
“Why is this significant? This passage clearly establishes that divine foreknowledge does not necessitate divine predestination.” (Page 64)
“The biblical use of elohim is not hard to understand once we know that it isn’t about attributes. What all the figures on the list have in common is that they are inhabitants of the spiritual world. In that realm there is hierarchy.” (Pages 31–32)
“The Old Testament writers understood that Yahweh was an elohim—but no other elohim was Yahweh. He was species-unique among all residents of the spiritual world.” (Page 32)
Based on the bestselling book by Michael S. Heiser, the new feature-length documentary The Unseen Realm casts a light on the strange and enigmatic plane of the supernatural that lies within the pages of Scripture. And what we discover are two distinct worlds—with vastly different inhabitants—created and ruled by one loving triune God. Watch the movie on Faithlife TV.
Dr. Michael S. Heiser was a former Scholar-in-Residence for Faithlife Corporation, the makers of Logos Bible Software. He then served as the Executive Director of the Awakening School of Theology and Ministry. His varied academic background enabled him to operate in the realm of critical scholarship and the wider Christian community. His experience in teaching at the undergraduate level and writing for the layperson both directly contributed to Logos’ goal of adapting scholarly tools for nonspecialists.
Dr. Heiser earned his PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages and holds an MA in ancient history and Hebrew studies. He was the coeditor of Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology and Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and English Translations, and he was able to do translation work in roughly a dozen ancient languages, including Biblical Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Ugaritic cuneiform. He specialized in Israelite religion (especially Israel’s divine council), contextualizing biblical theology with Israelite and ancient Near Eastern religion, Jewish binitarianism, biblical languages, ancient Semitic languages, textual criticism, comparative philology, and Second Temple period Jewish literature. In 2007 he was named the Pacific Northwest Regional Scholar by the Society of Biblical Literature.
Jessica Gaffney, LCSW