The COVID-19 precaution that has caused school work to shift to home has increased the number of questions from a third grader that this mama needs help with. I’ve had to do research on polygons versus quadrilaterals, as well as the differences between handwriting practice and daily writing prompts. Questions have included astrology, science, animal behavior, and computer technology.
This week’s questions:
If archeologists can find dinosaur bones to put on display in museums, then where are the dinosaurs and dragons in the Bible? Were dinosaurs real? Were dragons?
After a silent prayer that included a plea for guidance, I told my son we would do some research on that topic. Guess what? There’s a ton of information regarding the thought process behind dinosaurs being mentioned in the Bible.
Most Christians acknowledge that there were dinosaurs at some point in the world, as a result of those archeological digs that produce museum displays. However, most fall into two schools of thought regarding the timing of dinosaurs. Young Earth Creationists believe that the world was created by God, as illustrated in Genesis, approximately 6,000-10,000 years ago. This they believe that dinosaurs likely co-existed with humans and may have even been included on Noah’s Ark. The other group, Old Earth Creationists, believes many theories, but most acknowledge that earth’s creation is much older. They tend to believe that dinosaurs were extinct well before the creation of humans.
But back to the 3rd grader question…where are they in the Bible?
Nowhere does it say “dinosaur,” “T-rex,” or “brontosaurs” in the Bible. However, there are 28 times in the Old Testament that the Hebrew word tanniyn is used to describe an unknown animal creature that is close to a reptile. English translations of tanniyn use the word dragon, sea-creature/sea-monster, or whale, as the term is used for water and land monsters. Some would argue that the dragons, leviathans, behemoths, and birds with four legs are all “honorable mentions” of dinosaurs in the Bible.
In Ezekiel 29:3 (ESV), we see scripture specifically refer to dragons.
“…speak and say, Thus says the Lord God; ‘Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lies in the midst of his streams, that says, My Nile is my own; I made it for myself.”
In Job 41:1-34, we see scripture describe a serpent-like fire breathing creature, like a dragon.
“His sneezing flash forth light…out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke…His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth.”
In Job 7:12 (NLT), we see scripture refer to a dragon or monster of the sea.
“Am I a sea monster or dragon that you must place me under guard?”
In Psalm 74:13-14 (ESV), we see scripture specifically referring to the leviathan, which is typically understood to be a water monster similar to a dragon.
“You divided the sea by your might: you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan: you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.”
In Psalm 104:26 (ESV), we see scripture specifically referring to leviathans.
“There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.”
Leviathans & Dragons:
In Isaiah 27:1 (ESV), we see scripture refer to a leviathan, as a ginormous sea dragon.
“In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.”
In the book of Job, we also see scripture refer to a mighty beast as a Behemoth, which some argue was a vegetarian eating giant creature, such as stegosaurus.
“Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox. Behold, his strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron.
“He is the first of the works of God; let him who made him bring near his sword! For the mountains yield food for him where all the wild beasts play. Under the lotus plants, he lies, in the shelter of the reeds and in the marsh. For his shade the lotus trees cover him; the willows of the brook surround him. Behold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightened; he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth. Can one take him by his eyes, or pierce his nose with a snare?” Job 40:15–24 (ESV).
Birds with Four Legs:
In Leviticus 11:20-21 (KJV), we see scripture describe a bird with four legs, which some have argued could be flying reptiles, such as pterosaurs.
“All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth.”
If a 9-year-old is asking about the dinosaurs and dragons of the Bible, why haven’t I ever thought to look at it? After this week of digging into the verses, I recognize that many of the scriptures identify creatures that aren’t familiar to us in today’s age. I also acknowledge that there are Biblical scholars who have differing points of view on this subject.
More than that, I love that my son and I were able to dig into the Bible and come up with answers to his questions about dinosaurs and dragons.