published on August 11, 2015
Brian R. Doak
Monster Violence in the Book of Job
In this paper, I explore the book of Job in terms of the symbolic and ideological warfare waged between God and the human protagonist, Job. Specifically, I argue that the invocation of various kinds of creatures under the “monster” rubric (such as Leviathan, Rahab, Yamm, the Twisting Serpent, and Behemoth) can be illuminated through a consideration of contemporary work—in the history of religions, literary theory, and film studies—that categorizes the monstrous in terms of ecological disorientation, metaphors of the torn human body, and the boundaries of the “home.” Moreover, I draw on the work of Marie Hélène Huet in her book Monstrous Imagination to argue that some of God’s showcase animals in Job 38–41 (most prominently Behemoth and Leviathan, but also others) should be discussed as monsters with reference to their ambiguous species representation and their “false resemblance” to other known creatures. When considered within the context of Job’s pervasive themes of geological and animal violence, Joban monsters take their place among the menagerie of creatures adduced by Job’s speaking characters as rhetorical gestures of disorientation, community redemption, and the meaning of small community experience within empire.