Is a “kind” defined by a common gene pool? Is a “behemoth” a reference to a dinosaur? You might think so based on a very popular Bible study aide. I was looking up the etymology and usage of some Hebrew words at the Blue Letter Bible a few days ago and noticed some interesting notes added to the lexicon and usage information for a few terms. The first one that caught my eye was the definition and note added to the Biblical usage section for the Hebrew word miyn translated after its kind in Genesis 1. Below is a screenshot.
Notice the language in the text box here. This verbiage is straight out of a young earth creationist (YEC) handbook. It speaks of information being lost but not gained which is typical YEC wording to describe how organisms are decaying due to the effects of sin. It carefully tries to define a kind as never being able to give rise to new kinds but species in a kind can give rise to new species. All of this is the new language of creationism.
So here we have a strong YEC influence on the context of how a term should be interpreted. The translation into the English after its kind comes from a root word meaning to portion out. The text therefore says that God portioned out living things but this hardly tells us how that portioning was done. Unfortunately the scientific definition of kind presented here does not come from the Scriptures but is an anachronistic reading of modern science back into the text.
Does it matter? I think it does. This is a very popular online Bible research resource that is influencing the way we understand particular words in the Bible and thus the meaning of the Bible itself. Creationist literalists tend to read far more into the text than is there and then expect that their views be viewed as the only orthodox understanding of the meaning of the text.
But this isn’t just a Blue Letter Bible phenomenon. I tried to find out where this language came from and who inserted it. In searching I discovered that multiple other Bible reference sites also have the exact same definition and usage notes associated with the same Strong’s concordance number. It seems that this language has been inserted from some central database from which many websites are drawing data.
Unfortunately, I also quickly found that this definition of kind has been repeated hundreds of times on blog discussion forums with many assuming that this genetic definition is exactly what the Bible means by kind. This definition if them been used to show that the Bible clearly denies any form of evolution since this is what a kind is. But this nonsensical definition is far from inspired and clearly goes way beyond what we can know using the Bible to interpret the Bible.
Is a Behemoth a Dinosaur?
This creationists influenced definitional note is not the only one I found. I very quickly found a second example. This one is under the Strong’s concordance information for the Hebrew word translated Behemoth in our English Bible. See my screenshot below.
Here we find the definition of the term is “perhaps an extinct dinosaur” and then even tries to identify a specific species of dinosaur. To that is added a note that tries to dissuade the more popular understanding of this term as a reference to a hippopotamus ending with “this is patently absurd.”
This type of rhetoric is again right out of young earth creationist literature. It bothers me because I know the literature in this area and most biblical scholars would not conclude that this term refers to an extinct dinosaur and yet it is presented this way here as if it were the consensus view. So who has made the decision to use a definition that is less popular among scholars. Who generates the information that goes into the Strongs database these days? Obviously someone who is strongly influenced by, and familiar with, the creationist literature.
Unfortunately this type of misinformation, in my opinion, is being copies over and over again and enters into sermons and future books and papers because the Strongs lexicon is considered an authority of careful scholarship and thus is not often questioned.
If you see other examples of this please let me know. I would be interested to see how often this young earth bias is being promoted on sites like the Blue Letter Bible.
Addendum: See comments below for some feedback including evidence that Institute for Creation Research has some influence in these comments.