Thursday, January 22, 2015

Job 40:15-24 comments: behemoth

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. 19  He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. 20  Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. 21  He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. 22  The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. 23  Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. 24  He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.

Unlike modern Bibles, the King James Version translators relied on what modern Bible translators call Formal Equivalence. A term coined by the Bible translator, Eugene Nida, Formal Equivalence refers to a word-for-word translation. Today, translators use Dynamic Equivalence, based on what they think the original writer meant to say rather than on what he did say, although the phrase preferred now is Functional Equivalence. The modern translator views himself as the gatekeeper not only of the word of God but of its meaning, this purpose being outlined in a series of essays entitled The Challenge of Bible Translation edited by Scorgie, Strauss, and Voth.  The KJV translators, in effect, translated the word faithfully and left it up to the Holy Spirit and you to discover its meaning based on context, cross-referencing, etc.

The King James translators not only translated word-for-word but also, typically, the Hebrew syntax, or the order of words. At its height, the English of the translator’s day, was very similar to Hebrew in construction, as noted by Tyndale and other translators, and as even critics of the King James Bible have noted. (46)

Here, in this short section God speaks of a very large creature, by the description of it, which is called here Behemoth. The Hebrew word and the English word are only used once in the Bible. Before the word, dinosaur, was coined in the early 1800’s, the word dragon was used to specify the large reptiles of mythology. Other words were used, as well, in secular writings and in the Bible, referring to these large reptiles, such as serpent and worm. I take the view that this is a description of a type of dinosaur. After all, traces of blood have been found in dinosaur remains, which is clearly evidence of their more recent existence, not the fantastic 80 million years of the atheist’s guess. (47) In addition, dinosaurs were traditionally dated to the estimated layer of dirt or rock in which they were found, not by the scientist’s dating methods, as it was assumed by them that those dates were accurate. However, recent Carbon 14 dating has suggested that dinosaurs lived as recently as 30,000 years ago, well within the atheist’s guess of mankind’s walk on the earth. (48) I do not accept the authority of the dating method, though. It has been calibrated to certain supposed known historical events, for instance, of Egypt, whose corroborating dates are also based on assumptions that have been challenged.(49)

For modern Bible translators who use words like hippopotamus to insert here for behemoth, the description alone renders that an absurdity. Hippos don’t have tales they move like a cedar tree nor could he imagine, if given the understanding, that he could drink up a river. God challenges Job to consider this magnificent creation of which many artifacts of archeology show existed along with mankind. Rock art, sculptures and engravings, as well as written accounts, show what we think of as dinosaurs co-existing with mankind.

(46) Walter R. Betteridge, “The Accuracy of the Authorized Version of the Old Testament,” The Biblical World, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Apr., 1911), pp. 262-270. (accessed 1.22.2015).

(47) Helen Field, “Dinosaur Shocker,” Smithsonian Magazine, May 2006, (accessed 1.21.2015).

(49) Immanuel Velikovsky, a Russian Jew, a psychiatrist, and co-founder of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, challenged traditional dating methods for the ancient world as based on presumptions and willful distortion of evidence. He wrote Worlds in Collison, Ages in Chaos, and Earth in Upheaval, among other books. Although most scientists discount his sometimes wild theories he, at least, serves to show that there may be inconsistencies with traditional dating methods.

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