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Subject DO YOU BELIEVE IN UNICORNS
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Original Message Do you believe in unicorns?

14.04.2005 om 08:50:58 | WWW.NIBURU.NL | print

Today the unicorn is legendary, or mythical. But this was not always so. At one time the unicorn existed-or, at least, was thought to exist.

As described in ancient scientific writings and depicted in painting and tapestry, the unicorn was a beautiful horse-like creature with a single long horn thought to have medicinal properties. Respected ancient scholars, such as Aristotle and Pliny, mention them existing in their day. But today unicorns have gone the way of fairies, elves, and trolls. Belief in such creatures was abandoned with the 18th century Enlightenment. Oddly enough, however, the unicorn remained a fixture in the Bible until the 19th century.

"How could that be?" one may well ask.

The Christians who wrote the New Testament did not use the Hebrew Old Testament, but rather its Greek translation, as sacred Scripture. In the Greek Old Testament eight passages describe an animal having only one horn (monokeros) as a translation for the Hebrew word reŽem.

In the late fourth century, the Old Testament was translated into Latin (the Vulgate) using both the Greek and Hebrew. In some of the passages above the Vulgate translates the Hebrew reŽem as "rhinoceros" and others as "unicorn." All Christians used the Vulgate until the 16th century, at which time Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, the first time the Bible was ever translated into a modern European language. Luther used only the Hebrew, for the Old Testament. Nevertheless, he still translated reŽem as unicorn.

Later William Tyndale, using only the Hebrew, likewise translated reŽem as unicorn, and so did the King James Version of 1611. In the 19th century, however, scholars decided that the Hebrew reŽem did not really mean unicorn, but rather wild buffalo. Thus Christians from the fourth century well into the 19th found the unicorn in the Bible. The first English language edition to read "wild ox" for the Hebrew reŽem was the American Standard Version of 1901. Today, "wild ox" has become the accepted English translation for reŽem.

The Greek Orthodox Church, however, still uses the ancient Greek version of the Jewish Bible as their Holy Scripture. Where it differs from the Hebrew (and it often does), they believe the differences are due to divine inspiration. Unicorns, therefore, still exist in their Bible, as they existed for all Christians until the 19th/20th centuries.

So the question boils down to this: Did scholars change reŽem to "wild ox" because they knew unicorns were mythical and hence should not/could not have been in the Bible? Or did they change because of new information about the Hebrew word?

Once I asked a college class if they believed unicorns existed. They replied that unicorns had never existed, such is the influence of the Enlightenment on Western culture. When I pointed out that unicorns were in the Bible until the 19th century (and still are in some Bibles), most students changed their minds, such is the influence of the Bible in modern life.

What do you think? Were Christians misled by their Bibles for 1,900 years, or do unicorns really exist?

By: Charles Hedrick


Charles W. Hedrick is distinguished professor emeritus of religious studies at Southwest Missouri State University.



Source: Springfield News


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