What does the Bible say about dinosaurs? "
The topic of dinosaurs in the Bible is part of a larger ongoing debate
within the Christian community over the age of the earth, the proper
interpretation of Genesis, and how to interpret the physical evidences
we find all around us. Those who believe in an older age for the earth
tend to agree that the Bible does not mention dinosaurs, because,
according to their paradigm, dinosaurs died out millions of years before
the first man ever walked the earth. The men who wrote the Bible could
not have seen living dinosaurs.
Those who believe in a younger age for the earth tend to agree that the
Bible does mention dinosaurs, though it never actually uses the word
“dinosaur.” Instead, it uses the Hebrew word tanniyn, which is
translated a few different ways in our English Bibles. Sometimes it’s
“sea monster,” and sometimes it’s “serpent.” It is most commonly
translated “dragon.” The tanniyn appear to have been some sort of
giant reptile. These creatures are mentioned nearly thirty times in the
Old Testament and were found both on land and in the water.
In addition to mentioning these giant reptiles, the Bible describes a
couple of creatures in such a way that some scholars believe the writers
may have been describing dinosaurs. The behemoth is said to be the
mightiest of all God’s creatures, a giant whose tail is likened to a
cedar tree (Job 40:15).
Some scholars have tried to identify the behemoth as either an elephant
or a hippopotamus. Others point out that elephants and hippopotamuses
have very thin tails, nothing comparable to a cedar tree. Dinosaurs like
the brachiosaurus and the diplodocus, on the other hand, had huge tails
which could easily be compared to a cedar tree.
Nearly every ancient civilization has some sort of art depicting giant
reptilian creatures. Petroglyphs, artifacts, and even little clay
figurines found in North America resemble modern depictions of
dinosaurs. Rock carvings in South America depict men riding
diplodocus-like creatures and, amazingly, bear the familiar images of
triceratops-like, pterodactyl-like, and tyrannosaurus rex-like
creatures. Roman mosaics, Mayan pottery, and Babylonian city walls all
testify to man’s trans-cultural, geographically unbounded fascination
with these creatures. Sober accounts like those of Marco Polo’s Il
Milione mingle with fantastic tales of treasure-hoarding beasts. In
addition to the substantial amount of anthropic and historical evidences
for the coexistence of dinosaurs and man, there are physical evidences,
like the fossilized footprints of humans and dinosaurs found together
at places in North America and West-Central Asia.
So, are there dinosaurs in the Bible? The matter is far from settled. It
depends on how you interpret the available evidences and how you view
the world around you. If the Bible is interpreted literally, a young
earth interpretation will result, and the idea that dinosaurs and man
coexisted can be accepted. If dinosaurs and human beings coexisted, what
happened to the dinosaurs? While the Bible does not discuss the issue,
dinosaurs likely died out sometime after the flood due to a combination
of dramatic environmental shifts and the fact that they were
relentlessly hunted to extinction by man.