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In NT the RSV accords more closely with the Gr. ζω̂ον, which KJV renders “beast” throughout, is tr. “animal” in Hebrews 13:11, etc., and “living creature” in Revelation 4ff., which is helpful. Both KJV and RSV retain the tr. “beast” for κτη̂νος, G3229, (beast of burden) and θηρίον, G2563, (wild beast); RSV thus makes a clear distinction between the four living creatures on the one hand, and the beast of Revelation 11:7 and all literal passages on the other.

The biological aspect of the word creature should be discussed briefly, for RSV uses it in literal contexts much more widely than earlier VSS. In KJV it is found sparingly in OT. Heb. H5883, נֶ֫פֶשׁ (most frequently tr. “soul”) is tr. “living creature” nine times and “creature” once (Gen and Lev). In all cases the use is lit. Heb. חַיָּה, H2651, (basic meaning “living,” but variously tr. in many passages, usually lit.) is fifteen times tr. “living creature” in Ezekiel in a wholly fig. sense. RSV tr. as above but also at least ten other Heb. words which KJV renders “moving creature,” “beast of the field,” “flesh,” “people,” “living thing,” etc. In fact, the first six occurences of creature in Genesis (RSV) represent six different Heb. words. Except for some obviously prophetic passages in OT and NT, creature is used in KJV and RSV in a purely literal sense. Unfortunately, in current Eng. creature has several different senses; strictly it means anything created, both animate and inanimate; often it is regarded as synonymous with animal; sometimes used for members of the animal world as opposed to man, and in U.S. esp. for cattle. On all counts this word as used in RSV has its disadvantages. In most literal contexts the more precise words “animal” and “cattle” are preferred.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

For "swift beast," kirkaroth, "dromedary" (Isa 66:20 the King James Version), see Camel. For "swift beast," rekhesh, see Horse (Mic 1:13 the King James Version; 1Ki 4:28 the King James Version, margin; compare Es 8:10,14).

See also WILD BEAST.

See also

  • Animals