221: Giant Leaf & Fire Fish: Awakening to animals’ roles in God’s world

hat is this mysterious “Giant Leaf” that plays a role in preserving God’s world? And who are the “Fire Fish” that God set swimming through the seas?
    They’re both visual puzzles in a pair of new storybooks by illustrator Davy Liu, whose mission is far larger than entertaining children with lovable wildlife. Yes, he has worked with Disney and George Lucas and, yes, some of the undersea wildlife in “Fire Fish” may look a little like extras from “Finding Nemo” or “The Little Mermaid,” but there’s more here than pretty pictures.
    Liu is trying to step back and help all of us re-envision the roles of animals in the unfolding story of God’s Creation. He’s also trying to help us recapture the awe we’ve all but lost in retelling ancient stories from scripture. In each book, he surprises us half-way through his story when the finned or furry main characters suddenly encounter stories that most of us think of as human dramas in the Hebrew scriptures.
    I’m not trying to be coy by refusing to specify which biblical stories appear in these gorgeous picture books. Part of the fun of your “first read” of a Davy Liu book is discovering for yourself what ancient story could possibly involve a “Giant Leaf” or a “Fire Fish.”
    No, you haven’t got a clue.
    Nope, not that story either.
    You’ve got to read the books to experience the visual and spiritual wonder Liu is reawakening in each of us. (Click on the book covers or illustrations to jump to our reviews and order copies, if you wish, via Amazon. Ordering through our site helps to support our work.)

Since this is a Tuesday, we’ve also got this challenge …

      This is a simple quiz. You’ve got a 50-50 chance in answering each of the 10 questions! In each case, we’re asking if the particular animal is mentioned by name in most English editions of the Old Testament.
    This isn’t a trick. For example, you might argue that the sweeping language in Genesis or some of the grand passages in Psalms include all flying, swimming, walking and creeping creatures — so the 10 answers below are all: Yes. But we’re not accepting that answer.
    Which of the following animals is mentioned by name in common English editions of the Old Testament (and we’re talking here about the King James Version, Revised Standard Version and New International Version):

1.) Raven

2.) Camel

3.) Sheep

4.) Fox

5.) Tiger

6.) Penguin

7.) Gazelle

8.) Elephant

9.) Giraffe

10.) Unicorn

ANSWERS APPEAR BELOW. If you’re taking this quiz on our Web site, click on the link below to see the answers appear. If you’re reading via Email or RSS, the answers are visible already — so don’t peek!


1.) Yes. Lots of ravens. The raven got second billing on the ark to the successful dove that Noah sent out to test the outcome of the great flood. Tough luck for the raven — the dove got all the glory! Check out Genesis 8. They also sustained Elijah by bringing him food in the wilderness.

2.) Yes. Camels as far as the eye can see. Genesis 24 is especially packed with camels.

3.) Of course! Sheep everywhere. See, you’re doing just fine today.

4.) Yes, where there’s this much livestock — there’s likely to be a fox. In fact, it was Song of Solomon Chapter 2 that gave Hollywood the title of “The Little Foxes,” starring Bette Davis.

5.) No, lots of lions, but no tigers.

6.) No, not a penguin in sight. Sorry.

7.) Yes, gazelles are leaping all over the place in many common English editions — although the editors of the King James Version didn’t like the word. For example, one newer version of Song of Solomon 2:9 begins, “My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.” But the King James take on this was: “My beloved is like a roe or a young hart.”

8.) Yes. Although you can argue with us on this one. The Old Testament clearly talks about ivory, which is at least part of the elephant. And some RSV portions of the Old Testament specifically refer to elephants by name.

9.) No. Sorry. Many children’s books, based on Bible stories, feature giraffes. They’re just too colorful to leave out of Noah’s ark — but giraffe’s aren’t mentioned in the common English translations of the Old Testament.

10.) Yes. This is a tricky question, though, because most of us — including fans of lovable Irish folk songs — probably assume that unicorns are mythic characters who vanished long ago and are revived only in fantasy novels. However, it’s a notable distinction in the King James Version that the Hebrew term roughly meaning “wild ox” was translated over and over again as — yes, “unicorn.”

So, today, if you want to give yourself the benefit of the arguable points in several of today’s questions — sure, go ahead. See, Davy Liu’s wonderful tales have inspired such generosity in us today!

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reflections — but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
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