This past Sunday the priest of my church--that is, the priest who celebrates the Spanish Mass at the Episcopal Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Tucson--mentioned that someone had asked him why the Bible doesn't mention dinosaurs. We talked about it, and he said that he was going to look into it.
I have an answer to that question, actually, and it isn't his answer because as far as I know he did a little reading and reached his personal conclusion. But what I have to say is this: the answer to the question is simple: the Bible is not a scientific textbook.
That answer strikes at the very heart of fundamentalism, I know, but the existential predicament of fundamentalist Christianity is that the particular theology known as fundamentalism is asking the Scriptures to do something they cannot do, and to be something they cannot be.
I took the question about dinosaurs in the Bible to be a question about the Book of Genesis, because I can see no other logical place (by a stretch of the imagination) to look for information about the development of life on Planet Earth. But don't go looking in Genesis for a taxonomy of all the animals that God created, because you won't find one.
We know that God created dinosaurs (as it were), but God also created hedgehogs and giant squid, which also are not mentioned in Genesis. We learn from the history of Scripture that Genesis was written by Moses, although I think that it is highly likely that it was at least modified by the Priestly Writers who came later, intertwining the original narrative story with other elements of their tribal stories. But be that as it may; it doesn't alter the fact that the Hebrew writers could only write out of their experience.
How were tribes who were wandering through the desert of the Middle East to know that dinosaurs ever existed? No living human being ever saw a living dinosaur, because they died out almost completely in the planetary extinction event that took place about 25 million years ago.
Primitive Christians have trouble with this, but I feel like the politician who said recently that he wanted his party to stop "being the stupid party." I think this applies to the anti-science evangelical crowd. Being the stupid party is the last thing that Christians need, and the denial of scientific knowledge is restricted to a very small part of the Christian community in any event.
At the present time the Jewish calendar is in Year 5773 if I looked it up correctly, which places the Egyptian Kingdom just two thousand or so years after the beginning of the Creationist universe, which isn't possible unless you are willfully ignorant. So that's enough of that, unless the Jews (and the Chinese) don't know how to count.
So it seems simply logical to me that the Hebrews, when and where they were, didn't come across any evidence that such creatures as dinosaurs existed. We know of them today because their fossil remains have been discovered, not because they have been discovered. It also seems that some cultures, upon viewing the remains of the giant lizards, regarded them as the remains of dragons, a conclusion that isn't completely implausible. Remember, the Chinese version of a dragon does not have wings.
I wouldn't be surprised if the wandering Hebrews found fossils of sea creatures along the seashores and perhaps even in the Red Sea or the riverbanks--where I once found fossils when I was a little girl in Illinois. So if the writer(s) of Genesis didn't see any evidence that huge land animals ever existed, it didn't occur to Moses or anyone else to imagine them.
Moses (and anyone who had a hand in writing Genesis) had no intention of writing a scholarly treatise on how the world was made. If we try to force that interpretation on it, we kill it. The wonder and reverence attributing to God the magnificent scope of Creation is not about observation or even revelation--it is one of the many tributes to the glory of God that makes up the Jewish literary heritage that we need to appreciate and be grateful for, not to pin on a card like an insect from a killing jar.
The historical role of Jewish thought and theology has been to exalt humanity's notion of God, and to lift our eyes to the heavens, taking them off this earth and the powerful natural forces that we are forced to contend with. There is no god in the wind or the sea or the volcano; the Hebrews came to realize that the one and only God is in the heavens, above us human beings.
Christianity later came to teach that God is a spirit, without body, parts or passions, so far above human failing that we can hardly aspire to relate to him. That's what Christianity is all about: bridging the gap between the perfect, righteous Hebrew God and our human fallibility. That bridge could only be Jesus, although he little thought of it as he was trying as hard as he could to communicate to Judaism that their God was too small.