Onward. Here is what she writes:
The biblical unicorn was a real animal, not an imaginary horse-like creature. The nine Old Testament verses1 which refer to unicorns do so in the context of familiar animals—peacocks and eagles, lambs and lions, bullocks and goats, donkeys and horses, dogs and calves. Furthermore, the biblical unicorns also behave like ordinary animals—skipping like calves (Psalm 29:6 (KJV)) and bleeding when they die (Isaiah 34:7 (KJV)). God reminded Job of the characteristics of a variety of impressive animals He had created, showing Job that God was far above man in power, strength, and understanding. Speaking of the unicorn, God told Job that the unicorn had great strength but could not be tamed for agricultural labor (Job 39:9–12 (KJV)). If God had used an imaginary creature to make His point, Job would have learned nothing.The first thing of note is that the scripture that she lists in the passage are all from the 1900 King James version of the Bible. In each passage, this particular version of the KJV renders the relevant word “unicorn.” She goes on to write that a single-horned animal should “not trouble us” because we have the examples of the rhinoceros and the narwhal to draw from. She also argues that the writers of the KJV would have used the correct word because that is what the Hebrew writers actually saw. She also justifies the use of the word “unicorn” linguistically because the KJV translators would have been using the original Hebrew texts.
Dr. Mitchell goes on to suggest that this “unicorn” may have been the monocerus, a single-horned mythical creature that it is thought may have been derived from the Indian or African rhinoceros. She, on the other hand, suggests that the correct derivation may have been from the elasmotherium, a “giant, extinct rhinoceros.” She further argues that the unicorn must be a real creature because it found its way into medieval myth. She writes:
The fanciful unicorn is found in ancient Chinese creation mythology. The powerful beast which only gentle maidens can tame enters western literature in an anonymous work called the Physiologus. These writings are thought to have originated in North Africa around the second to fourth century AD. They include an allegory intertwining the biblical Incarnation of Christ and the Virgin Mary with a unicorn which cradles its head in Mary’s lap.There are three big problems with this:
1.When the unicorn is encountered in mythology, it is always as a lithe, horse-like creature. It is never a hulking behemoth capable of trampling anything in its path. It is difficult to imagine that the medieval describers of the unicorn would have ever confused it for a rhinoceros. If a rhinoceros put its head in anybody's lap, it would crush them, if it didn't gore them first.
2. Elasmotherium is known from fossil remains in Eastern and northern China, steppic Asia and the Ural Mountains. Its remains do not occur as far south as the Levant. While there are rhinoceros precursors found in Greece and North Africa, they are the two-horned variety. What the Hebrew writers saw, then, could not have been elasmotherium or any other one-horned animal.
3. When faced with the same original language, the translators of every other version of the Bible that I checked arrived at “wild oxen” for the passages she cites. Rick Norris writes:
Since the Hebrew word reem is singular at Deuteronomy 33:17, Unger’s Bible Dictionary and Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible also noted that “the reem had more than one horn” (p. 66; Hastings, IV, p. 834). The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible also confirmed that the Biblical animal “was 2-horned (Deut. 33:17), where the word is singular, and not plural, as in A. V.)” (p. 617). The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible also referred to the animal’s “2 horns (Deut. 33:17)” as “its outstanding characteristic” (I, p. 114). Likewise, Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary asserted that the reem had “two horns” (p. 714). The People’s Dictionary of the Bible also noted that “the passages mentioning it, correctly understood, require an animal with two horns” (p. 210). Based on this same verse, Cansdale pointed out that “there is no possibility of it [the reem] referring to a one-horned animal” (All the Animals, p. 82).This is another example of a well-meaning young earth creationist taking an unworkable hermeneutic to illogical extremes by adhering not just to a literal reading of a passage, but a literal version-specific reading of a passage. The translators of the other versions that I checked understood that the straight literal rendering of “unicorn” for those verses was likely in error because a). a reading of “wild oxen” was perfectly reasonable given the cultural context and b). there has never been any evidence of unicorns whatsoever, anywhere. Dr. Mitchell, on the other hand, simply accepts the flat reading of the text at face value. To require the biblical texts to be literal down to this level is absurd and does little to combat the general notion among scientists and educated laypeople that many purveyors of the young earth model live out there where the bus doesn't run.
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