Unicorns and the King James Bible

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Well the unicorn finally turned up…what made news wasn’t that it was found. This animal, the Siberian Unicorn, was already known to have existed. What made news was the date. This fossil dated to 29,000 years ago, putting it alive in the same time period as human beings.

When it comes to biblical studies the unicorn is of interest because the KJV mentions unicorns 9 times. Christian apologists will take this as an opportunity to defend the text but the text doesn’t need defending on this point. It needs to be translated more accurately, not defend an inaccurate translation through a news story like this one. “Unicorn” was the best translation they could come up with in the 1611 KJV (which was mostly a revised Bishop’s Bible). As our understanding of biblical terms improves this translation has fallen out of usage and a more accurate way of translating the Hebrew has resulted in an animal like a wild ox. That makes a lot more sense out of passages like Psalm 22:21, “Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” This is a messianic prophesy and obviously it is not picturing animals but people who are behaving like animals killing the Son of God.

The unicorn doesn’t need to be defended from a biblical perspective. What we need to seek out is accurate translation and be appreciative that our ability to translate things more accurately improves over time as our access to ancient documents (resulting in words in context to learn from) gives us a better understanding of scripture.


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