Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DINOSAURS! From Cultural to Pop Culture - ~2,000 BC: Biblical Behemoths


~2,000 BC
Biblical Behemoths
"Before the 19th century when dinosaur bones turned up they were taken as evidence of dragons, ogres,or giant victims of Noah's Flood"
Updike, 2007
The oldest known Torah, the Jewish Holy book (CBS News)

Our first stop along the ride through history is approximately 2,000 BC, which is when it was assumed the Book of Job from the Old Testament was written. That is where we run across the passage:
 15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
Job 40:15-18

African Elephant from Utah's Hogle Zoo.
 Photo by Jim Lehane.
The main reason this is our first stop, and not another one a little further along the timeline, is that Creationists seem to have taken up this phrase as proof that dinosaurs were in the Bible and have been around since Creation. If we analyze the passage we do have something that can be described as a dinosaur it seems. First off "behemoth" is a rather obscure term but since the term dinosaur wasn't coined until 1854 this could be taken as a dinosaur, or as any other unknown/obscure animal of the time.
White Rhinoceros from Utah's Hogle Zoo.
Photo by Jim Lehane.
Picking apart other parts of the passage we have "he eateth grass as an ox", indicating an herbivore. The next line, "his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly". I'm not really sure how to interpret that one, but we will just assume it means the animal is pretty big and strong, not really a physical description though. Now we get to the line that is the primary "proof" given for it being a dinosaur; "tail like a cedar". Not many, if any,animals today contain a tail that can be described as "like a cedar".Looking at the next line, "bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron", we get the feeling of a large animal with large bones and large limbs. But all modern day large animals with large limbs, all contain tiny little tails (like the elephant and the rhino).

This has been one of the the "proofs" that Creationists provide as evidence that dinosaurs were in the Bible, since no modern day animal can fit the mold. Dinosaurs do seem to fit it well though. So does this mean dinosaurs really did live with mankind? I don't think so, but I think this is an important entry in the Dinosaurs Cultural to Pop Culture series, and one that couldn't be forgotten.

Bible references obtained from the King James Version:

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