Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DINOSAURS! From Cultural to Pop Culture - ~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
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

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 though. 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 animal at the time.

Picking apart other parts of the passage we have "he eateth grass as an ox", which can be any 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 he is a pretty big and strong animal, not really any physical description though. Now we get to the line that is the primary proof that it is 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 (as well as with the second line) 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).

So the Creationists generally take this passage as a reference to dinosaurs 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 man? I don't think so but I think this is an interesting entry and one that couldn't be forgotten.

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