Saturday, March 11, 2023

Unicorn Rebuttal Points and additional material

Unicorn Rebuttal Points

"The Best Things have been Calumniated"

1. Margin of Isaiah 34:7 shows that the KJV translators meant rhinoceros

A. This is completely backwards understanding of the "‖ Or, ..." marginal annotations.  These marginal annotations refer to what the KJV translators called "diverse" senses, which means "different senses," or as Scrivener put it, "alternative readings." Timothy Berg, who has also extensively studied the marginal annotations, has the same description (here). 

B. The marginal annotations, that say "‖ Or, ..." always express a different sense from the main text.  Sometimes the difference is small, sometimes the difference is large, but there is always a difference.  There are explanatory notes, but these are indicated with a dagger symbol 

2. Deuteronomy 33:17 doesn't mean that the Re’em has two horns because sometimes the singular noun can stand for the plural in Hebrew.

While it is certainly true that a singular noun can refer generically to a group, and arguably that's even the case here (1) English follows the same grammatical principle as Hebrew on this point and consequently it is better to translate the singular with a singular and, more importantly, (2) because in this case although Reem is singular, horns is plural, so the expansion based on generic use is just to a herd of reems each of which has horns.  The two words Reem and horns are tied together grammatically.  

3. The "single horn reference" in Psalm 92:10 is "ignored"

The "singular" horn reference in Psalm 92 is about the horn of the person, not the Reem.  The phrase "the horn of an unicorn" in the KJV is supplied by the translators, it is not the text of Scripture.  This can be seen from the italics both in the modern editions of the KJV and in the original printing of the KJV.

Psalm 92:10 But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.

Here are six words of the Hebrew text (with vertical lines added for folks less familiar with Hebrew) with the corresponding English below (recall that Hebrew is written right to left):

וַתָּרֶם | כִּרְאֵים | קַרְנִי | בַּלֹּתִי | בְּשֶׁמֶן | רַעֲנָֽן׃

 fresh. | with oil | I will be anointed | my horn | like a Reem | But you will exalt

People are described in Scripture as having a horn, singular, in numerous places (in addition to Psalm 92:10: Job 16:15 of Job, 1 Samuel 

Job says he defiled his "horn" with dust.  Thus, we understand that "horn" of Job is an idiom or poetical word for his head.  

The dirtying of one's head was a sign of mourning/humility:
Joshua 7:5 "put dust upon their heads"
2 Samuel 1:2 "with ... earth upon his head"
2 Samuel 13:19 "put ashes on her head"
1 Kings 20:31-32 "put ... ropes upon our heads" "put ropes on their heads"
Lamentations 2:10 "they have cast up dust upon their heads"
Ezekiel 27:30 "shall cast up dust upon their heads"
Revelation 18:19 "they cast dust on their heads" .

This contrasts with the opposite, the anointing of the head:
Lev. 8:12 Aaron's head anointed

Especially recall how Jesus commanded his disciples to fast secretly in contrast to others:
Matthew 6:17 "when thou fastest, anoint thine head"

4. The Septuagint translates as μονόκερως (monókerōs)

This is the strongest and most difficult argument to counter.

A. Consider what the King James translators said in their preface:

There be many words in the Scriptures which be never found there but once, having neither brother nor neighbour (as the Hebrews speak) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Again, there be many rare names of certain birds, beasts, and precious stones &c. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves for judgment, that they may seem to have defined this or that, rather because they would say something, than because they were sure of that which they said, as St Hierome somewhere saith of the Septuagint. Now in such a case doth not a margin do well to admonish the Reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily?

B. Nick shouldn't be allowed to appeal to the LXX. According to Nick, the LXX is the fifth column of Origen's Hexapla.  When the LXX does not agree with the Hebrew text, Nick affirms that the LXX is corrupt and should be rejected.  While I don't fully agree with Nick's view of the LXX, I agree that it should not be used to correct the Hebrew, merely to illuminate it.  In this case, the LXX gives an uncertain sound, because the seventy used "monoceros" not "rhinoceros," but the "monoceros" is the name of a mythical animal, possibly deriving from travelers' descriptions of the rhinoceros or some other animal.

5. The Latin has Rhinocerotis five times and Unicornis four times. 

A. It depends on which Latin you're talking about:
    1) The Benedictine Vulgate has Rhinoceros five times and Unicorn four times.
    2) The Vulgate of Jerome (i.e. with his Hebrew-based Psalms translation) has Rhinoceros six times, Unicorn two times, and Monoceros one time.
    3) The Old Latin (according to Sabatier, a new critical edition is in progress) has Unicorn seven times, Monoceros once, with the last reference being a reference to a Monoceros using a pronoun.
    4) The New Vulgate uses "bubali" (a term that can mean antelope, gazelle, wild ox, or buffalo) three times, "unicorn" four times, and "taurus ferum" (wild bull) twice.   
    5) Beza's Old Testament of 1602 uses monoceros four times, and unicorn five times (never rhinoceros).

(p. 156/205)

6. All English bibles predating 1611 have Unicorn in every place, except the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible that has both Vnicorn and Rhinoceros. 

The really old have the Saxon equivalent 

Psalm 21 (corresponding to our 22), verse 19 (corresponding to our 22): Gefriða me of þæs leon muðe, and of þam hornum þara anhyrna gefriða me, yrming.  (King Alfred's prose Psalter)

The phrase, "þara anhyrna," includes a cognate of the modern German word, Einhorn, which means unicorn.  There is an interesting endnote on the phrase:
(22) þara anhyrna: Ro. unicornuorum; according to Helge Kökeritz, “The Anglo-Saxon Unicorn,” in Early English and Norse Studies ed. Arthur Brown and Peter Foote (London, 1963), pp. 120-26, at p. 125, anhyrna is the wk. fem. noun anhyrne, and the gen. pl. flexion in -a is analogical from the st. gen. pl. nouns or is a corrupt form (through haplology) of original *anhyrnena. But the subst. adj. of the corresponding Lat. and the preponderance of adj. renderings of Lat. unicornis, unicornuus among the Old English glossed psalters suggests that anhyrna here represents an adj. used subst., perhaps originally anhyrnena, with subsequent modification either through haplography or through late West Saxon confusion with the vocalic declension of nouns (see S-B §304, n. 2). See also Gneuss, Lehnbildungen, no. 167.

There is also this Glossary note:

ANHYRNE adj. subst. (?) unicorn gp wk. anhyrna 21.22 (see Commentary)

Apparently, "þara" in this instance is just a form of the definite article, "the."

Psalm 28 (corresponding to our Psalm 29), verse 15 (corresponding to our 5 and 6): 5. (5) Þæs Godes word brycþ cedortreowu, and symle se God brycð þa hean cedertreowu on Libano, þam myclan munte (þa treowa tacniað ofermodra manna anweald). (6) Drihten forbrycð and forbryt þa myclan cedertreowu, emne swa þa lytlan onwæstmas. Þa owæstmas beoð swa mycle and swa fægere swa swa þees deores bearn þe “unicornus” hatte.

As you may note, instead of translating, the Latin is simply quoted.

7. The concept of another animal, such as a "wild-ox", "Auroch", or "goat" came after 1611, and was mostly popularized in modern bibles versions since around the time of Westcott and Hort’s Revised Version. 

a) These later dictionaries are more or less irrelevant.
b) Rhinocerots is plural, not singular.

8. Rabbi Kimhi (aka Rabbi Kimchi aka "the Radak" for RAbbi DAvid Kimhi)  

In Sefer HasShorashim (Provence, France c. 1185-1235), Rabbi David Kimhi has the following entry for the Re'em:

"Re'em with his majestic horns" (Deuteronomy 33:17), meaning a type of wild ox with only one horn, as in "the calves of the re'em" (Psalm 29:6). The word "re'em" is sometimes spelled with an aleph instead of an ayin, such as "from the horns of the re'em you answered me" (Psalm 22:22), and sometimes with a yod instead of an ayin, such as "will the wild ox be willing to serve you" (Job 39:9). It is a very strong animal among the desert beasts.

ראם   וְקַרְנֵי רְאֵם קַרְנָיו (דברים לג, יז), רוצה לומר ראםי כי אין לראם אלא קרן אחת. כְּמוֹ בֶן־רְאֵמִֽים (תהלים כט, ו). ובהניח האל"ף וּמִקַּרְנֵי רֵמִים עֲנִיתָֽנִי (תהלים כב, כב). ובהניח האל"ף והתחלפה ביו"ד הֲיֹאבֶה רֵּים עָבְדֶךָ (איוב לט, ט), הֲתִקְשָׁר־רֵים בְּתֶלֶם עֲבֹתוֹ (איוב לט, י), בהמה מבהמות המדבר חזקה מאד.

While I did not find any sources cited for this particular entry, the Radak apparently related on earlier works of Rabbi Judah ben David Hayyuj and Rabbi Jonah ibn Janah, as well as the work of his own father.

Animadversions (c. 1470 - 1550) by Elias Levita on Sefer HaShorashim says:

"It was written in the name of Rabbi Saadia Gaon that the re'em is the female of the wild goat from Accho. This is a matter of wonder, for can it be imagined that the male is pure and the female is impure? There are also commentators who explain that the re'em is a creature with a single horn on its forehead, but this is also incorrect, since it is written 'with his majestic horns' (Deuteronomy 33:17), implying that it has more than one horn."

ראם   א"א כתב רבינו סעדיה ז"ל כי הראם היא הנקיבה מן אקו. ויש לתמוה על זה, וכי תעלה על דעת שהזכר יהיה טהור והנקיבה טמא? גם יש מפרשים ראם הוא החיה שיש לה קרן אחת במצחה וגם זה איננו נכון מדכתיב וְקַרְנֵי רְאֵם קַרְנָיו בָּהֶם (דברים לג, יז), משמע שיש לה יותר מקרן אחת.

9. Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary of 1910, and the Webster's Dictionary of 1828, both support the word unicorn as being an umbrella term for all kinds of creatures with a single horn, including the Rhinoceros. The footnote in the KJV modified which kind of unicorn it was, i.e., not a Narwal, nor the Hercules beetle, nor a mythical creature, nor a caterpillar (Schizura unicornis), nor a kamichi (unicorn bird), nor a snake (Green unicorn), nor a Rhino-horned lizard, nor a Bicornus (two horned) Rhinoceros, but a single horned "Rhinocerots", which was later officially named the Rhinoceros Unicornis.

Oxford English Dictionary (1910), vol. 8, p. 829, center column.

Appendix I - Latin Usage
If we use the critical Benedictine Vulgate (BV):
Numbers 23:22 (link) has "rinocerotis" (with variant spelling)
Numbers 24:8 (link) has "rinocerotis" (with variant spelling)
Deuteronomy 33:17 (link) has "rinocerotis" (with variant spelling)
Psalm 22:22 (Vul Psalm 21:22) has unicornium (with some variants on the spelling)
Psalm 29:6 (Vul Psalm 28:6) has filius unicornium (with some variants on the spelling)
Psalm 92:10 (Vul Psalm 91:11) has unicornis (with a spelling variant)
Job 39:9 (link) has "rinoceros" (with spelling variants)
Job 39:10 (link) has "rinocerota" (with spelling variants)
Isaiah 34:7 (link) has "unicornes" (with a spelling variant)

Stuttgart has the same in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Job, and Isaiah (but with less spelling variation noted).  However, Stuttgart distinguishes between two texts of Psalms: a LXX-derived translation and the Hebrew-derived translation.
Psalm 22:22 same as BV in both LXX-derived Heb-derived translation
Psalm 29:6 LXX-derived matches BV, while Heb-derived has "filius rinocerotis"
Psalm 92:10 LXX-derived matches BV, while Heb-derived unexpectedly has "monocerotis"

Bibliorum Sacrorum latinae versiones antiguae  Sabatier, Pierre, 1682-1742; La Rue, Vincent de, d. 1762 (in the Psalms, the LXX-derived and Heb.-derived columns are also present)
Numbers 23:22 (link) has "unicornis" (differs from Vulgate)
Numbers 24:8 (link) has "unicornis" (differs from Vulgate)
Deuteronomy 33:17 (link) has "unicornui" (differs from Vulgate)
Psalm 22:22 (Vul Psalm 21:22) has unicornuorum (different declension of same word)
Psalm 29:6 (Vul Psalm 28:6) has filius unicornuorum (different declension of same word)
Psalm 92:10 (Vul Psalm 91:11) has unicornis (same as Vulgate)
Job 39:9 (link) has "monoceros" (differs from Vulgate)
Job 39:10 (link) does not repeat word, but implies "monoceros" in verse 9 with "suum"
Isaiah 34:7 (link) has "unicornes" (same as Vulgate)

Finally, if we use the New Vulgate: 
Numbers 23:22 (link) has "bubali" (the correct translation, but at odds with previous Latin editions) 
Numbers 24:8 (link) has "bubali" (the correct translation, but at odds with previous Latin editions)
Deuteronomy 33:17 (link) has "unicornis" (similar to Old Latin and against Vulgate)
Psalm 22:22 (Vul Psalm 21:22) has unicornium (same as Vulgate)
Psalm 29:6 (Vul Psalm 28:6) has filium unicornium (basically same as Vulgate)
Psalm 92:10 (Vul Psalm 91:11) has unicornis (same as Vulgate)
Job 39:9 (link) has "taurus ferus" (the correct translation, but at odds with previous Latin editions)
Job 39:10 (link) has "taurum ferum" (the correct translation, but at odds with previous Latin editions)
Isaiah 34:7 (link) has "bubali" (the correct translation, but at odds with previous Latin editions)

Appendix II

KJV 1617

prdl to the GB

list of variants but also psalms passages

Appendix III

List of Variants from Isaiah 30-35

Appendix IV 

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