Are dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible?

Question: Is there any mention of dinosaurs in the Bible?

Answer: There are some who have speculated that the Leviathan and Behemoth mentioned in Job 40 & 41 could be dinosaurs. The description of Behemoth’s tail swaying like a cedar (v. 17) and Leviathan’s invulnerability to spears and hooks and snorts of flashing light and fire does not seem exactly right for the usually suggested identifications of these creatures as the hippo and the crocodile. Those familiar with Hebrew poetry, however, suggest that the descriptions are not meant literally (was there a dinosaur who breathed fire) but are exaggerated descriptions meant to contrast God’s power in subduing all he has created as opposed to man’s inability to do so.

If these are not descriptions of dinosaurs, and they are probably not, then there are three explanations for how dinosaurs fit into the Biblical description of the animal kingdom. One answer has been that there was a time prior to the description of God’s ordering of the creation in Genesis 1 in which great creatures like the dinosaurs roamed the earth. Genesis 1 then presupposes a previous ordering of creation that went bad, perhaps due to conflict with Satan. Though a popular view at one time, this view has fallen into disrepute. It was based on a supposed possible translation of Genesis 1:2 (“and the earth became without form and void”) that is no longer viewed as possible.

The second possibility is that the Genesis record is not intended as a literal account of creation but one that allows for the evolutionary process to fill out the description given there. In this case, the Genesis account is said to allow for millions and millions of years to transpire, during which dinosaurs could have come and gone, just as science observes they did, and that they disappeared before Man’s appearance on the scene.

If, however, one takes the timing of Genesis 1 as a literal six days, the best explanation seems to be that dinosaurs were created during the fifth and sixth day along with all the other creatures. They may have had favorable conditions that allowed them to grow to huge proportions, conditions that no longer exist since the flood. Some propose a water canopy that surrounded the earth creating tropical conditions all over the world and diffusing harmful UV rays, changed the density of the air and allowed for much longer lives. Once this canopy was dissipated at the flood, creatures, including man, were no longer able to live as long or grow as large. Extinction would account for the disappearance of several species.

If the last two views are correct, the Bible mentions dinosaurs but without specific identification. They were some of the sea, air and land creatures God made just like all the rest.

Randall Johnson


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