Did you know one of the ways the Bible describes God’s strength is by that of the unicorn?! How cool is that?! (some of you are probably thinking, “this is crazy train, Mike”) But hear me out. It’ll become more sane while at the same time still staying awesome.
In this blog, I’ll make 2 Scripture references to the unicorn. The first is from the book of Numbers 23:22. The King James Version (I know it’s a protestant Bible, but stay with me) says, “God brought the Israelites out of Egypt; He hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.” I used this version because there’s no Catholic AND English translation that uses the word “unicorn” for this particular Scripture verse (but look out as my second Scripture verse later on will use the word “unicorn” from a Catholic Bible.
For this Scripture verse, we’re going to go old school right now to its original language. Here’s a one sentence short history of translating the Old Testament (New Testament is slightly different): Hebrew⇒Greek⇒Latin⇒English. Of course, the Bible is in other languages, but for us English speaking people, this is our history. Ok, so now that you know Hebrew is the original language of the Old Testament…re’em is the Hebrew word we’re talking about right now for this “unicorn.” If you google it, re’em is a unicorn in the Harry Potter series! Game over, let’s go home and call it a day! Just kidding. Getting serious again, re’em does refer to a big cow with a horn (but now no longer exists.) Speaking of no longer existing…fun fact: there are still SOME dinosaurs that still exist today! birds for example.
And speaking of impossibly real animals, look at this book at the library. I passed right by it on my way to the computer to finish this blog! #providential
Now back to re’em. The next language after Hebrew is Greek. Re’em was translated into the Greek word monoceros (which you can guess the meaning, if you think “mono” as one…like monologue…and “ceros” like rhinoceros, which has a horn but on its nose rather than his forehead. So you can take a guess that it might mean “one horn.” And guess what. You’re correct! Good guess! By the way, rhinoceros means “nose horn” in case you were wondering.
In classical Latin, there is a well known Roman naturalist named Pliny the Elder. Since he was not a christian, he’s oftentimes used by Christians and Catholics as a secular reference as the further evidence of Jesus having existed. Yes, there are people who believe Jesus didn’t exist. I know this for sure as I went to a public college for my Religion major! Anyways, Pliny the Elder also has a description of the actual monoceros. Check it out sometime! Ok, I’ll do the work for you. He said:
It has the head of the stag, the feet of the elephant, and the tail of the boar, while the rest of the body is like that of the horse; it makes a deep lowing noise, and has a single black horn, which projects from the middle of its forehead, two cubits in length. This animal, it is said, cannot be taken alive.
Rumor has it that an animal of this description still exists today in India. Yes, thank you God! Literally, thank you, God! You can check it out for yourself by researching for the “Indian rhinoceros.”
The next language after Greek is Latin. Monoceros was translated into the Latin word “unicornis” by Saint Jerome. Boom! Now let’s really go home and call it a day! This is why some translations used “unicorn” in the English. But the translations that don’t use it, chose not to so as to not lead the average reader into thinking of the mythical unicorn that was conceived in the Middle Ages. Dagger!
But there’s good news. Before we get to the good news, here’s a preface that my favorite Bible version in English is the Douay-Rheims Bible because it is (big surprise here) the oldest Catholic and English translation of the Bible. Now if my Latin was better, the Vulgate (the Bible in Latin) might be my favorite Bible if we’re talking the Bible regardless of language. Or maybe the Septuagint (the Old Testament translated from the Hebrew into Greek). Or the Old Testament in Hebrew? Ok, let’s stop with that. Back to the good news. My favorite Catholic and English Bible, the Douay-Rheims translation uses the word RHINOCEROS for this Scripture verse!! For the win! And I like rhinoceros over unicorns as unicorns are oftentimes associated with peace. Not that I’m against peace. I’m all for peace. Jesus after all is the Prince of Peace. But we’re in spiritual warfare and the rhinoceros is more dangerous. Trying having one as a pet. Your house will get destroyed. Modern Catholic English Bibles will instead use “wild ox.” That’s a strong animal too. But I want my horn.
By the way, here’s a picture of my Catholic Bibles. Notice my favorite translation also happens to be the biggest. #guysWithBiggerBiblesHaveBiggerHearts
Lastly, the day after composing the first draft of this blog (this is so providential), I was praying the Morning prayer out of the Roman Breviary, which takes the extraordinary form, whereas the Liturgy of the Hours takes the ordinary form (both forms are both the Divine Office though). I mention this difference because lo and behold, the unicorn shows up in one of the Psalms! God’s timing is amazing! In the Douay-Rheims Bible (the version that the Roman Breviary takes), it says in Psalm 91: 11, “But my horn shall be exalted like that of the unicorn: and my old age in plentiful mercy.” So not only is God’s strength like that of a unicorn, but we too can be that strong! (only through His grace and power however) And that same verse says we have “horns”! How awesome is that! Don’t take the horn verse literally of course!
Old School Take Away: Get yourself a Douay-Rheims Bible if you: 1) prefer to remember the ancient real animal and 2) want to see the word “rhinoceros” in the first verse and “unicorn” in the second verse.
One of my very favorite Catholic theologians is Taylor Marshall (he’s very Thomistic, which means based on Saint Thomas Aquinas). He has an article on 7 reasons to love the Douay-Rheims Bible. If you’d like to read it, here’s the link:
Let’s see if today’s blog takes off or if people want their nicer, more modern Biblical translation.
Ending prayer: Lord, I am weak and so I pray for thy strength, which is like that of a monoceros. Amen.
Going old school,