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Talk:Where are the unicorns?

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This page needs to be merged with Monsters in the Bible --Pile 12:01, 28 November 2007 (CST)

At the risk of appearing to "defend" Bible literalism (I'm not!), there's a problem here. Where the KJV uses "unicorn," the word in the original Hebrew is re'em. What this ancient word meant, is not entirely clear. It's probably related to Akkadian rimu which was probably the aurochs, a kind of cattle which is now extinct, or perhaps some other wild cattle-related animal.

The Septuagint translators rendered re'em into Greek as monokeros, which means “one-horned (beast).” The reason for this may be due to the Hellenic association of rimu with a beast depicted in Near Eastern art with only one long horn (possibly because they're seen in profile). The KJV translation appears to have relied on the Septuagint to translate this word. But other translations (Christian and Jewish) use different English equivalents, or even leave the word untranslated.

This may seem a stretch, and perhaps it is, but the link between re'em and rimu is quite reasonable, which leaves the Septuagint rendering an abberation.

This one Biblical translation issue is one that needs to be treated carefully. There are enough problems with it, to make too much of this one. --PsiCop 15:17, 28 September 2007 (CDT)

That's a great argument and I think it should be included. I think there are two issues here to point out:

  1. If the bible is considered inerrant, specifically certain versions that are held in high regard such as KJV, then we can argue the case on a literal basis
  2. If we don't argue the case on a literal basis and use your references as examples of how interpretation changed the meaning of the passages, we can demonstrate that this technique is likely rampant throughout the bible, and any literal interpretation should be suspect.

So either way you go, the bible does not appear to be reliable nor inerrant. And in my opinion, this is what the article should point out.

--Pile 14:18, 29 September 2007 (CDT)

I absolutely agree the Bible is not reliable. The problem here is that it's not a good idea to make too much out of the use of “unicorn” in the KJV (and by extension, monokeros in the LXX). The original Hebrew re'em clearly referred to a known beast of the Near East at that time, and was likely the same as Akkadian rimu.

As for the KJV being “inerrant,” there is a subset of American fundamentalism which reveres it above all other translations, but they’re in the minority. Even many evangelicals who are “inerrantists” will admit to problems with this translation.

I guess you could say the issue here is “picking one’s battles.” The error that fundamentalists make more often than any other, is to “hold the line” at all costs and never, ever concede anything. One should not, in opposing them, fall for the same fallacy. The bottom line is that the Hebrew re'em is, in all likelihood, not the “unicorn” of modern legend, but rather a variety of Near Eastern cattle, which either disappeared in the last 2,500 years or so, or was changed (e.g. it may have been domesticated into other lines of Near Eastern cattle).

There are so many problems with the Bible that it hardly makes any sense to concentrate on one which is, at best, marginal. --PsiCop 23:25, 30 September 2007 (CDT)


I think pointing out the differences in the positions of different sects/factions within Christianity has value in exposing the overall unstable nature of the bible as a reliable source of information on any level. --Pile 10:32, 1 October 2007 (CDT)

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