Hunting for Dinosaurs in the Bible

Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 04 2006



“So God created the Great Dragons” …Genesis 1:21 The Latin Vulgate; 5th Century

“Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron.

He ranks first among the works of God…” Job 40

The question is sometimes derisively asked “why doesn’t the Bible mention dinosaurs, if it is inspired”?

The answer is- it does!

It just doesn’t call them dinosaurs, a term that was not even invented until the mid 1800′s–a term that literally means “terrible lizard”. Is that any better a term for the group than; “great dragons”, “sea monsters”, “monsters”, “great creatures”, “monsters” or “serpents”?

These are some of the ways the word “tannim” or “tanniym” have been translated in the Old Testament.

If God created “dinosaurs”, He did so at the same time as He created the other animals.

In Genesis 1 verse 21 translators had their first opportunity to translate “tannim” a word Strong’s translates as: dragon or dinosaur; sea or river monster; serpent, or venomous snake. Yet, the KJV translated the word as “whales”?

Perhaps the KJV translators and later translators of other versions were trying to help God out; believing dragons to be mythological, the translated tannim as other animals so as to avoid embarrassment for Christians and for God. God didn’t need their help.

After this excellent article about the translation of the word “tannim” in the Bible; we’ve produced a table which presents the verses containing the word in question. In each case, we’ve left the translation of the word to you.

To the right of each verse are clues; along with the context of the verse, we give you as examples the way five translations translated the word in each verse. It’s amazing how even the same translations often translate “tannim” inconsistently!

The question here is; what word would you choose and do you agree that the Bible did in fact mention dinosaur like animals?

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8 Responses

  1. Brad Miller says:

    Your site is great but you are completely wrong about the KJV and its translators. It (KJV)is the only perfect translation. Check out http://www.drdino.com and watch his online videos. Also check out http://www.avpublications.com and http://www.biblebelievers.com

  2. Administrator says:

    The last thing considered is that this piece would be considered to be an attack on “KJV translators”. However, unless one takes the position that the KJV translators were inspired as the original writers WERE, I cannot see how one could claim that there was a perfect translation.

    You do know that the KJV has been revised numerous times? Which one is perfect?

    Is there a perfect French, Swahili, Spanish translation, as well?

    The King James is one of the best ENGLISH translations but I prefer to read a multiplicity of translations. Our family Bibles are KJV but we read other versions as well and they have helped us understand scriptures we had trouble with in the KJV— because meanings of words have changed after a couple hundred (400) years.

  3. Administrator says:

    Dear Brad,

    Okay, I now see what you were referring to; my comment about the KJV translation of tannim in Genesis 1:21. Let me say that the comment about helping God out etc.. was off the top of my head. I mean. I don’t think I read that specifically anywhere. However, I consider “whales” the most variant translation of those listed here in the table.

    It could certainly be that the KJV translators got it right and everyone else wrong–but look how often the KJV itself translated the same exact word as dragon or sea creature in other passages. You may believe that they were “inspired” to choose the correct variant translation of the word in each of the other passages, but I’m convinced that they had to have used some “subjective” criteria when deciding when to translate “whale” and when to write “dragon”.

    There is of course a “whale” of a difference between a whale and a dragon, and perhaps even between a sea monster and a whale or dragon. I think they had to have used subjective judgements; what’s the context; is the passage referencing a real or mythological creature etc. etc…

    By the way, I think all the translators had to do that. Maybe 98% to 99% of the words were known, but there seems to be a slight discrepancy when it comes to tannim.

  4. sim says:

    Brad,
    Kent Hovind(Dr. Dino) is great. I heard him speak at a church when I was about 16. He was one of the main reasons I immersed myself into the study of biblical history. But one the problems I have with him, and by extension CSE, is the push that one must believe and not question the (KJV) bible. I fully believe that God will use whatever he wants to communicate to me and those who will listen to His calling. I am pretty sure we are not called to have faith in the actual bible. Before you make a statement in public again about the KJV being the Perfect translation. Stop. Grab your tongue and or your fingers and don’t.
    The only time you are going to read the perfect version is if you go back and chill with Paul. Oh and you understand Greek, Hebrew and the greek and hebrew mindset of the time, completely. Everything else is just a good guess on what the writers meant.
    Let’s not put our faith in the words on a page. My faith is in the idea of the bible: 1 God created all, sent his son in the flesh to eventually die and pay the price for everyone (who makes the choice to believe and to love everyone like themselves) to enter heaven. Everything else is helpful and interesting and ultimately superfluous.
    I hope that you understand that when someone reads your post they may get the impression that God is limited to only speaking through the KJV and that if you read the NIV or the Message or the Darby or the Amplified or the Living or the hundreds of non-english Translations of the bible, that God is not giving them the whole picture.

    Now, let’s get back to reading about cool stuff that “shouldn’t” be where it is. :)

    (Admin, kill this if you think it is not useful)

  5. Administrator says:

    I appreciate all the comments. Let me be clear. Most translators of the Bible agree as to the original meaning up in the high 90′s– 97%, 98%, or 99%.

    Also, they agree that what is in question does not impact essential doctrines. Even here, if you try the verse with the various translations of the word tannim, one can see how small is the impact on the overall meaning of the passage. In the case of Genesis 1, the word “whale” might not open your eyes to the possibilites like sea monster or great dragons does.

    Tynddale and others were murdered by the same people and church that is reponsible for the KJV precisely because he and others were making the Word of God available to the people. Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake.

    Do I think God, after over 1,500 years inspired a group of men such as this to create a “perfect translation” in English? No, I don’t but I agree that it is superior to the NIV– but like the NIV and all others is not quite perfect.

    s8int.com

  6. Brad Miller says:

    If you don’t believe in a perfect Bible then you have no final authority. Your own mind becomes your god. The KJV has no mistakes all the other versions do.
    I could debate manuscript evidence until I am blue in the face. I simply don’t have the time. Check out the websites I listed earlier and read PROOF that will refute all of your arguments. Best Regards.

  7. Administrator says:

    Dear Brad,

    Clearly I don’t want to get blue in the face discussing translations. However, there is a difference between the perfection of the “received text” and the perfection or lack thereof of the TRANSLATIONS of the “received texts”.

    By taking the stand that you have, you have given “final authority” to the translators of the KJV and not to the “received texts” themselves.

    Let me put this another way; if you could read the original munuscripts in the original languages, would read them or the KJV or indeed any translation? I hope you’d rather read the original texts–if they were available.

    Theologically, I’m still asking why or what did God do for those KJV translators that is diffferent than what He did for other translators of other versions?

    s8int.com

  8. sim says:

    Brad,
    My final authority is the Holy Spirit, not a specific translation. I think I prefer to let the buck stop with the creator and not the created.

    I checked out the av pub site
    The av publication website loses all credibility with it’s reference to lucifer worship in the message bible. (http://www.avpublications.com/avnew/content/NABV/nabv_comparison2.html)
    There is no being named lucifer, not in any “corrected” kjv’s or any other translations. That was a mis-translation by the kjv guys. I’ll have to pickup a copy of “Awe” and see if this lady is spot on or missing the mark.

    One of the other verses I have found that just doesn’t add up and is the kjv is Deuteronomy 32:8. It does not match up with the Septuagint or the dead see scrolls. The KJV and other translations use “children of Israel” instead of “sons of God” or “angels of God”. The biggest problem in this verse is that Israel(Jacob) hasn’t come along by the timeline of that book. There were no children of Israel at the time.

    Like I said, I don’t put my faith in the actual translations.
    Find the Main message in any translation (it is exactly the same- love your brother as your self and love God with all your heart, mind and soul) and then do it.
    Enjoy.

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