Was the reem an unicorn--one horned?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Logos1560, Feb 7, 2007.

  1. Logos1560

    Logos1560
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,127
    Likes Received:
    2
    Did the animal called reem in Hebrew at Deuteronomy 33:17 have only one horn? Was the indirect or possibly direct source of the pre-1611 English Bibles and the KJV's rendering "unicorn" the Greek Septuagint's monokeros or the Latin Vulgate's unicornis?

    In his 1828 dictionary, Noah Webster defined unicorn as "an animal with one horn; monoceros."
     
  2. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2003
    Messages:
    44,448
    Likes Received:
    0
    The one-horned unicorn is mythical. The two-horned unicorn is Biblical, IMHO.
     
  3. AntennaFarmer

    AntennaFarmer
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2005
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sure, why not?



    I don't know. Does it matter? I think that both the Vulgate and Septuagint are correct on that point.




    Yes, I think it was the Indian Rhinoceros. When I check the Scripture references I find that they all describe the rhino better than a wild ox or some such. There is no reason to think that the Hebrews were unaware of the creature. Rhino horns may well have been traded into Egypt in ancient times. Travelers would likely have related stories of the creature. If you recall, Israel is on a major trade route between asia and Egypt.

    Certainly, Noah had at least a couple of them on the ark.

    Our mythical unicorn is a later development. It has nothing to do with the unicorn of the Bible.

    A.F.
     
    #3 AntennaFarmer, Feb 7, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2007
  4. Logos1560

    Logos1560
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,127
    Likes Received:
    2
    Concerning the word unicorn, the 1895 Sunday School Teachers' Bible pointed out: "The LXX translation has passed into our A. V., but is erroneous, as the mention of two horns on one reem (Deut. 33:17) proves." McClintock also observed that this text "puts a one-horned animal entirely out of the question" and that one of its scriptural characteristics is "having two horns" (Cyclopaedia, X, p. 638). The unabridged Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary noted at its entry unicorn: "in the Bible, a two-horned, oxlike animal called reem in Hebrew: Deut. 33:17" (p. 1998). 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). Concerning this verse, Tristram maintained that “nothing could prove more clearly than this passage that the ‘unicorn’ was a two-horned animal” (Natural History, p. 146). At Numbers 23:22, Ellicott’s Commentary has a note that affirms that Deuteronomy 33:17 indicates “that the reem had more than one horn” (I, p. 546). Granbery also described this animal as “having two horns” (Bible Dictionary, p. 396). In his 1848 Bible (KJV) and Commentary, Adam Clarke wrote: "Reem is in the singular number, and because the horns of a unicorn, a one-horned animal, would have appeared absurd, our [KJV] translators, with an unfaithfulness not common to them, put the word in the plural number" (I, p. 834).

    Following the Greek Septuagint or Latin Vulgate or both, the earlier pre-1611 English Bibles (Wycliffe's, Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Great, Taverner's, Geneva, and Bishops') all had unicorn [singular] at Deuteronomy 33:17. The 1602 Spanish Valera had unicornio [singular] at this verse. The 1611 KJV changed this noun that was singular in number in the Hebrew Masoretic text and in all the earlier English Bibles to a plural. Either the 1762 Cambridge standard KJV edition or the 1769 Oxford standard KJV edition added the following marginal note for the word unicorns: “Hebrew an unicorn.” Other KJV editions that had marginal notes such as the 1810, 1821, 1835, 1857, 1865, and 1885 Oxford editions, the 1853 American Bible Society standard edition, the 1769, 1844, 1872, 1887, and the 2005 Cambridge editions, and the 2002 Zondervan KJV Study Bible have this same marginal note at this verse. This marginal note in standard editions of the KJV affirms with the earlier pre-1611 English Bibles, the 1602 Spanish Valera, and the 1657 English translation of the Dutch that the Hebrew word was singular in number.

    The context of the verse in Deuteronomy also supports the view that this animal had more than one horn. In the context, the “them” and “they” of this verse both refer back to “horns.“ William Houghton observed: "The two horns of the reem are 'the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh'--the two tribes which sprang from one, i.e. Joseph, as two horns from one head" (Hacket, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 3351). Likewise, Tristram commented: “For the two horns of the reem are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh, both growing out of one head, Joseph. This, then, entirely sets aside the fancy that the rhinoceros, which the Jews could scarcely have known, or any one-horned creature, is intended” (Natural History, p. 146). Wiley noted that "the emblem of Joseph was the re'em; and his two powerful sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were typified by two horns" (Bible Animals, p. 429). T. E. Espin asserted that the “tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh are represented by the two mighty horns of the beast” (Cook, Bible Commentary, I, p. 743). Ellicott’s Commentary mentioned “the two-horned power of Joseph” (II, p. 94). The Companion Bible [KJV] suggested that the “horns” are “put by figure Metonymy” for Ephraim and Manasseh (p. 287). These observations concerning the context are in agreement with another verse (Num. 14:4) which stated: “For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim“. KJV-only authors seem to ignore this credible evidence from the context that indicates that this animal had two horns.

    On the other hand, KJV-only advocates sometimes maintain that Psalm 92:10 proves that the reem had only one horn. Is it really a problem to refer to one horn of an animal that had two horns according to another verse? If someone mentions or describes the leg [singular] of a horse, it would not be claimed that the person was saying that a horse has only one leg. Likewise, referring to one horn of the reem would not prove that the reem definitely had only one horn.

     
  5. Logos1560

    Logos1560
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,127
    Likes Received:
    2
    How do you think the Scripture references describe a rhino?

    In agreement with the rendering at some verses in editions of the Latin Vulgate, some may suggest that the reem could be the rhinoceros. The 1611 KJV has the following marginal note from the likely if not certain influence of the Latin Vulgate at Isaiah 34:7: "or, rhinoceros." It is interesting that some KJV-only advocates will appeal to this one marginal note in the 1611 to try to defend a KJV rendering when usually they consider the marginal notes to have no weight at all. J. G. Wood claimed that “the unicorn has been erroneously supposed to be identical with the rhinoceros of India” (Story, p. 159). One problem with that suggestion is that a rhinoceros was not an animal that was used as a sacrifice by the Jews in the O. T. Wiley affirmed that the reem "were counted among animals fit for sacrifice and associated with bovines" (Bible Animals, pp. 431-432). The scriptural association and connection of the reem with domesticated work animals at Job 39:9-12 and with domesticated cattle and animals used for sacrifice at Isaiah 34:6-7 conflict with the claim that the reem could be the rhinoceros. Although the reem was indicated to be too strong (Job 39:11) to be used as a work animal, it was still associated with this type of animal. Is there any evidence that shows that those who lived in the time of Job would have considered a rhinoceros as the type animal to be possibly put in a yoke and used to plow? Houghton concluded: "Considering, therefore, that the reem is spoken of as a two-horned animal of great strength and ferocity, that it was evidently well known and often seen by the Jews, that it is mentioned as an animal fit for sacrificial purposes, and that it is frequently associated with bulls and oxen, we think there can be no doubt that some species of wild ox is intended" (Hackett, Smith's Dictionary, p. 3352). McClintock maintained that "the skipping of the young reem (Ps. 29:6) is scarcely compatible with the habits of a rhinoceros" (Cyclopaedia, X, p. 638). When young, the reem was frisky like a calf. While there are some varieties or species of the rhinoceros which have two horns, all the evidence considered together does not make a compelling case for the view that the reem was a rhinoceros. In addition, the historical evidence from the representations of an unicorn on a Scottish coin, in English heraldry, and in books including even in some KJV editions that will be presented would seem to be another serious problem for this claim.
     
  6. Keith M

    Keith M
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2002
    Messages:
    2,024
    Likes Received:
    0
    uni = one
    corn = horn

    Therefore there cannot possibly be a two-horned unicorn. Maybe a duocorn? Or a bicorn?

    :wavey: :rolleyes:
     
  7. robycop3

    robycop3
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2000
    Messages:
    7,573
    Likes Received:
    10
    I see no reason NOT to identify the Biblical unicorn with the mythical horse-like creature with one spiral horn on its forehead. After all, this animal is in the House of Stuart(that of King James) coat-of-arms & is in the current British coat-of-arms.

    The KJV translators had no reason to believe this unicorn was mythical, especially since the same name was used in older Bible versions. However, WE KNOW IT'S MYTHICAL, so it would be foolish for a modern version to use "unicorn" in its text.

    But the KJVOs have no room to criticize later versions for saying "wild ox" since neither they nor the AV translators know/knew what a re'em really was.
     
  8. Logos1560

    Logos1560
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,127
    Likes Received:
    2
    The Oxford English Dictionary noted that the unicorn is “usually depicted heraldically as having the head, neck, and body of a horse, the legs of a deer and tail of a lion, with a straight and spirally twisted horn growing out of the forehead” (XIX, p. 56). This source also mentioned that there was a Scottish coin used in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries “with the figure of the unicorn stamped on its obverse” (Ibid.). The title page of the 1616 edition of The Works of the most High and Mighty Prince, James included the typical head of a unicorn as pictured in English heraldry and in the Royal Coat of Arms. Dore pointed out that the 1616 folio edition of the KJV published by Barker has a picture of an unicorn (Old Bibles, p. 336). Herbert also confirmed that the 1616 KJV edition had a picture of an unicorn (Historical Catalogue, p. 196). Herbert also noted that the 1648 KJV edition has the "royal arms with lion and unicorn," and that before the book of Genesis it has a woodcut of Adam and Eve, with lion on one side and unicorn on the other (p. 196). The 1611 edition also has the royal coat of arms that includes an unicorn. It was King James I of England who introduced the unicorn into the British royal coat of arms. Arnold Whittick maintained that James IV of Scotland first used the unicorn in his Royal Coat of Arms and that “when James VI of Scotland became I of England, he substituted the white unicorn of Scotland for the red dragon of Wales as the sinister supporter, and it has remained there ever since” (Symbols, p. 343). Whittick observed: “With the union of England and Scotland under James I, the lion remained on the dexter side, guardant with a gold crown, and on the sinister side the white unicorn of Scotland was introduced” (p. 25). Is there convincing evidence that proves that the KJV translators clearly used the word "unicorn" to mean something completely different than the animal pictured in the 1611 and 1616 edition of their translation, in English heraldry, or on a Scottish coin? If one marginal note in the 1611 edition can be considered to suggest that they could mean a rhinceros, can the picture in the same 1611 edition also not be considered? While the KJV translators may have just kept the rendering from the earlier English Bibles and it may be possible that they considered it to be a different animal than the one pictured in their Bible, the readers of the KJV editions with the picture of an unicorn would have very likely associated those representations or pictures with the word in the text.
     
  9. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2003
    Messages:
    44,448
    Likes Received:
    0
    All of us aren't criticizing. I don't mind "wild ox", since I feel that is what the unicorn looked like, and in my mind at least, it takes aways some confusion.

    Why do we always paint with a wide brush when it comes to KJVO's?

    I happen to think I'm a nice person and I don't care which version of the Bible anyone else uses.

    I use the KJV only, but I am not at all like I see myself 'painted' in some of these threads...
     
  10. AntennaFarmer

    AntennaFarmer
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2005
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    0
    I got this far before I cracked up. You should research this for yourself rather than just quoting the "authorities." What Houghton calls "associated" is a contrast. The creature is contrasted (not compared) with an ox.

    And yes, some rhinos have two horns. Both the two horned and the one horned creatures are called rhinoceros. The word translated as "unicorn" could refer to both as well.

    A.F.
     
  11. Logos1560

    Logos1560
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,127
    Likes Received:
    2


    In his commentary on Job, Henry Morris stated: "The Hebrew word translated unicorn in this and other passages is believed by most Hebrew scholars to refer to the huge and fierce aurochs, or wild ox, which inhabited the Middle East and other regions but is now extinct" (p. 107). George Cansdale maintained that the wild ox or Aurochs "is the beast that Hebrews knew as re'em" (All the Animals, p. 82). W. L. Alexander pointed out: "The reem is supposed to be the aurochs, an animal of the bovine species, allied to the buffalo, now extinct" (Pulpit Commentary, III, p. 537). James Boyd indicated that the Hebrew word reem referred “evidently to a two-horned animal, Deuteronomy 33:17, possibly the now nearly extinct wild ox, auroch, or urus of naturalists” (Bible Dictionary, p. 103).

    Roy Pinney maintained that "nearly all Bible scholars and naturalists are agreed that the animal meant was the Aurochs, Urus, or Wild Ox (Bos primigenius) which is now extinct" (Animals in the Bible, p. 103). The Dictionary of the O. T. asserted that “the Hebrew term reem is without doubt the now extinct aurochs, or wild ox Bos primigenius” (Alexander, p. 916). Likewise, Edward Nourse identified the reem as “the wild ox, Bos primigenius, the German Auerochs” (New Standard Bible Dictionary, p. 670). Walter Ferguson also confirmed: "The evidence strongly indicates that it [the reem] was the aurochs, also known as wild ox, giant ox, or urus, an extinct bovine" (Living Animals of the Bible, p. 26). In his commentary on Deuteronomy, S. R. Driver noted that the Auerochs of the old Germans, the Urus of Caesar, have been described “as being nearly as large as an elephant and untamable” (p. 407). Spurgeon wrote: "The unicorn may have been some gigantic ox or buffalo now unknown, and perhaps extinct" (Treasury of David, II, p. 119). Willmington has “wild ox” in parenthesis after “unicorn” in his list of Bible animals (Complete Book, p. 26).

    Waite's Defined KJB included in its note concerning "unicorns" at Deuteronomy 33:17 the following: "Heb probably the great aurochs or wild bulls which are now extinct" (p. 315). Waite wrote: “Get a Defined King James Bible if you want to have the Words of God translated into understandable English” (Fundamentalist Deception, p. 34). Waite suggested that if “you don’t know what these words mean, get a copy of The Defined King James Bible” [where] “each of the 600 or more uncommon words is defined accurately” (Fundamentalist Mis-Information, p. 91). Do other KJV-only advocates reject this claimed understandable and accurate definition of the Hebrew word given at Deuteronomy 33:17 in Waite’s Defined KJB?

    Unger's Bible Dictionary noted that this Hebrew word "most certainly denotes the 'wild ox,' for the cognate word in Akkadian rimu has this meaning (p. 66). At its entry reem, the Oxford English Dictionary declared: "The Hebrew name of an animal mentioned in the Old Testament, now identified with the wild ox" (XIII, p. 453). This same authority on the English language included this statement: “The identification of the Hebrew reem with the wild ox (Bos primgenius) is one of the most certain of all Bible names” (Ibid.). Green's Concise Lexicon gave the meaning of this Hebrew word as "wild ox" (p. 213). This Hebrew word is translated "wild ox" or "wild oxen" in English translations by Jews such as their 1917 Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text and Tanakh. At Deuteronomy 33:17, Thompson's Chain Reference Bible gave this marginal note: "i.e., horns of the wild ox." At Numbers 23:22, the Scofield Reference Bible has the marginal note: "i.e. the aurochs, or wild ox." The 1952 Pilgrim Edition of the KJV edited by E. Schuyler English and the 2002 New Pilgrim Bible with two KJV-only advocates as consulting editors have the footnote “a name for a wild ox” at Numbers 23:22.
     
  12. Logos1560

    Logos1560
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,127
    Likes Received:
    2
    Are you suggesting that the name "unicorn" can accurately be used for an animal that has two horns?

    Are you considering the overall evidence considering the identify of the reem?
     
  13. AntennaFarmer

    AntennaFarmer
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2005
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello buddy. As evidenced by the Septuagint, the Hebrew word reem was associated with a single horned creature (Gk: monokeros) long before the mythical horned horse of the middle ages came into view. The English unicorn merely means a single horned creature.

    Try to avoid back projections.

    A.F.
     
  14. AntennaFarmer

    AntennaFarmer
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2005
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am suggesting that a notable characteristic possessed by only some members of a particular group can be used to describe all of the members of that group.

    I think that consideration of the "overall evidence" includes the Vulgate and the Septuagint.

    A.F.
     
  15. Logos1560

    Logos1560
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,127
    Likes Received:
    2
    Roy Pinney offered one possible explanation of how the reem may have become mixed up with the Greek unicorn. He pointed out how the reem is presented on the Ishtar Gate, a brick arch in ancient Babylon that is covered with glazed basreliefs that showed various animals in profile. Pinney noted that "the bi-horned reem, in its appearance on the gate, appears to have but a single horn" (Animals of the Bible, p. 204). The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible asserted: "The translators of the KJV called the wild ox a unicorn because of representations found on Babylonian mosaics and Egyptians drawings. These representations showed it in strict profile, showing only one horn; hence 'unicorn'" (I, p. 114).
     
  16. AntennaFarmer

    AntennaFarmer
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2005
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cognate evidence must be used with extreme care since a related word in one language can take on meaning not found in the other language. I think current scholarship has, in some cases, placed too much weight on cognates.

    A.F.
     
  17. AntennaFarmer

    AntennaFarmer
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2005
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    0

    I first heard this quite a while back. It is sheer speculation. With this kind of thing you need some supporting evidence for it to carry weight.

    A.F.
     
  18. Logos1560

    Logos1560
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,127
    Likes Received:
    2
    Are you referring to the same-type speculation that is so often the basis of claims made by holders of a KJV-only view?

    What if the Greek Septuagint's rendering "monokeros" which is the likely source of the Latin Vulgate's rendering "unicornis" with these two sources the likely sources of the renderings of the early English Bibles was only speculation on the part of the translators of the Septuagint? "Unicorn" could in effect be based on one authority--the Greek LXX.

    Hebrew Bible scholars do not consider the Greek Septuagint's rendering to be the most accurate and correct rendering for the Hebrew word "reem."

    The Oxford English Dictionary, which is an authority on the English language, included this statement about the reem: “The identification of the Hebrew reem with the wild ox (Bos primgenius) is one of the most certain of all Bible names.

    KJV-only advocates often accept the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY as an authority on the correct intended meaning of words as used by the KJV translators.
     
  19. AntennaFarmer

    AntennaFarmer
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2005
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    0
    It is the kind of speculation that you often allege that the holders of the KJVO position make. You often fail to note the KJVO number so I have trouble discerning the validity of your allegations.

    The Septuagint and Vulgate are quite old and should be given considerable weight. Do you want me to say that the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew was speculation? I don't know how they came up with monokeros. You don't either. To say they speculated would be pointless speculation on our part.

    The translators of the Septuagint had sources unavailable to us today. In addition to written sources they also had a continuous scribal tradition to draw on. Even though our English translators did not use it as the primary source for the Old Testament text the Septuagint is still an important source for word usage.

    We have few real sources to choose from. If I have my choice between the Septuagint and some scholar with doubtful reasoning and a cognate from Akkadian I will go with the Septuagint. (That isn't to put down scholarship by the way.)

    Now, if you have something from the Dead Sea Scrolls that (used in context) helps define the meaning of reem we have something interesting to talk about.



    You are funning me. The Oxford English Dictionary is much better than Webster's in my opinion. Webster's is only better if you wish to know how New Englanders talk. The English dictionary is an authority on the meaning and use of English words. It is not the authority on translation.

    A.F.
     
    #19 AntennaFarmer, Feb 8, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2007
  20. Mexdeaf

    Mexdeaf
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,051
    Likes Received:
    0
    What is the 'KJVO number'?
     

Share This Page

Loading...