The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Biblical Beasts: Whale

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

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Biblical Beasts: Vulture

Monday, October 03, 2011
Those parts of the Old Testament canon originally written in Hebrew have a number of words for birds but a significant one among them is ‘nesher’. This bird is described as having magnificent wings and soaring high, of nesting in high rocky outcrops, of having keen eyesight and descending swiftly on its food source. Well, it could be an eagle (see the blog from 20 July) but it could equally be a vulture. In particular it could very well be the Griffon Vulture, also called the Great Vulture, its modern scientific Latin name being Gyps fulvus. It was common in Palestine and indeed is still found all around the Mediterranean. This bird does not correspond to the stereotype we now tend to have of vultures as scruffy, quarrelsome and unintelligent. The Griffon Vulture is a very large bird, being little short of five feet in total length, and the wingspan measuring about eight feet. The adult bird is a yellowish brown colour, augmented by the black quill feathers and the ruff of white down that surrounds the neck. (All photos here are of the Griffon Vulture.) Read more

Biblical Beasts: Unicorn

Saturday, October 01, 2011
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Biblical Beasts: Snake

Friday, September 30, 2011
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Biblical Beasts: Raven

Monday, September 19, 2011
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Biblical Beasts: Tortoise

Monday, September 12, 2011
Someone commented that Godzdogz is 'scraping the bottom of the barrel' in having a summer series on Biblical Beasts. Well if that's true we are at the very bottom of that barrel in looking for a biblical beast whose name (in English) begins with the letter 'T'. There are no toads or turkeys and one mention of a tiger (Job 4:11) though most translations render it 'lion'. No tigers in Africa - no tigers in the Bible, perhaps. We have to wait for William Blake's wonderful poem before we meet the tiger as a symbol of divine power although the 'lion of Judah' has a long history even before C.S.Lewis's Aslan appears on the scene. Read more

Biblical Beasts: Quail

Friday, September 09, 2011
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Biblical Beasts: Pig

Monday, September 05, 2011
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Biblical Beasts: Ostrich

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The ostrich is mentioned twice in the bible, once in Lamentations and once in Job. In Lamentations, the Lord complains that his people have become heartless like the ostrich, and in Job the Lord gives a caricature of the ostrich as a bird which waves its wings proudly but cannot fly. Taken together, these two passages can be understood to say something about humanity in general. Just as a bird’s freedom depends on its wings, so a man’s freedom depends on his rationality. In the case of the ostrich, we see that having wings is not sufficient for a bird to have the freedom to fly, yet the ostrich seems joyfully oblivious to the way in which most birds use their wings and the ostrich doesn’t seem to care that it is flapping its wings in vain.

Similarly, man’s freedom depends on being a rational animal, but being rational is not sufficient for man to be completely free. Man’s use of his reason can be like the ostrich’s use of its wings. Sinful man can think as much as he likes and yet can be totally unaware of and unable to reach the heights to which sinless man reaches, which is nothing other than the beatific vision in heaven. The story of our redemption is how Jesus Christ not only shows us what we can do if by grace we were to be cleansed from sin, but he can actually give us the grace to live without sin. So rather than being like ostriches which can’t fly, our nature is transformed to be like the birds that have the freedom of the heavens.  Read more

Biblical Beasts: Moth

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
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Death's Head Moth
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