Original Research

Vanwaar die eenhoring in Bybelvertalings?

L. F. Schulze
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 26, No 3 | a1420 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v26i3.1420 | © 1992 L. F. Schulze | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 June 1992 | Published: 10 June 1992

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L. F. Schulze,, South Africa

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Luther’s translation of Psalm 22:22 reads: "Deliver me from the unicorns" (errette mich von den Einhömem). This translation arouses curiosity for it is common knowledge that the unicorn has never existed but yet figures as a prominent symbol of the New Age. Besides, the Hebrew word means antelope, buffalo, or wild bull. The question thus arises why the Hebrew re'em was translated by Luther with unicorn While the official Dutch translation of 1633 (Statenvertaling, translated according to the title page from the original languages) gives the same translation as Luther, the obvious deduction was that the unicorn was such a powerful symbol in 16th century Europe that it slipped into the Bible translations. However, Calvin, tending even less than Luther to allegory and non-literal interpretation, also mentions the unicorns in his commentary on Psalm 22:22. This renders Jerome’s Vulgate suspect and, indeed, the Vulgate translates the Hebrew word with unicorns. The next stop was the translation of the Septuagint, which reads monokeros. In this way the cultural background as a possible explanation of this translation shifted from the 16th century to the first centuries B.C.


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