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The Fiction Issue 2012

Holy Unicorns!

The word “unicorn” appears nine times in the Old Testament. And unless you’re an 11-year-old girl, you are well aware that if it’s got unicorns in it, it’s a fairy tale.
June 25, 2012, 1:20pm

Illustration by Ben Montero

As if you needed any more proof that the most-read tome in history is completely, unequivocally a work of fiction, let’s explore the fact that the word “unicorn” appears no fewer than nine times in the King James version of the Old Testament. And unless you’re an 11-year-old girl—or aspire to be one—you are well aware that if it’s got unicorns in it, it’s a fairy tale.

The most significant mention of unicorns occurs in the Book of Job, when God pulls his favorite whipping boy aside and enumerates the characteristics of a variety of impressive animals He alone created, reiterating His infallible superiority over men. Among these creatures was the magnificent unicorn, which isn’t all that impressive when you consider it’s basically just a white horse with a horn. (God didn’t even make them cute; Lisa Frank did.)

Biblical apologists claim that all this unicorn business is just a translation glitch carried over from ancient texts and not proof that dumb Jews and Christians believe in them. Dr. Geoff Treloar, director of coursework at the Australian College of Theology, said, “The salient word in the Deuteronomy text literally means ‘single-horned’, so ‘unicorn’ will have seemed a natural translation to the mind of the Middle Ages.” He went on to add that modern translations use the term “oxen” and dismissed the King James interpretation as “a bit of a stretch.” If we’re lucky, someday soon theologians will be saying the same about organized religion in general, and their sacred texts will be relocated to the fantasy section, right next to the Twilight saga, because, seriously, this crap is for tweens.