Bible Review 20:3, June 2004

Acting Like Apes

The Bible’s Alpha Males

By William H.C. Propp

A few weeks ago, my family went ape. Literally. Within the space of seven days, we visited the primate exhibits at the San Diego Zoo, watched an IMAX film about Jane Goodall, borrowed an educational video about apes from the library and viewed 2001: A Space Odyssey. (We gave the Planet of the Apes series a pass.)

I enjoyed seeing the glow of recognition on my young boys’ faces as they observed young primates tussling with each other and cuddling with a parent. The older child understands the basics of evolution; the younger still asks, “Daddy, which kind of monkey did I use to be?”

Always on the job, my own thoughts turned to the Bible. I reflected on how biblical characters exhibit behaviors observable among our simian relations. That the actions of real and literary humans should resemble those of wild primates is not surprising. After all, we share over 98 percent of our genetic material with the great apes, making us closer kin than, say, the zebra is to the horse (according to the aforesaid video).

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