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Corporeal Discourse in the Book of Job

From: Journal of Biblical Literature
Volume 132, Number 4, 2013
pp. 845-863 | 10.1353/jbl.2013.0049



Corporeal metaphors are central to the theology of the book of Job, especially in relation to the themes of divine power and human dignity. Job’s body is the testing ground of the śāṭān’s hypothesis about Job’s self-interested piety and the compass point from which Job narrates his place in the world. Job’s experience leads him to describe his body as disintegrated and dishonored. He imagines God as a warrior who brutalizes him with an outstretched arm, a powerful hand, and a sharp eye. The divine speeches, however, offer Job a new orientation to his body and the cosmos through the bodies of animals. While the powerful beasts and monsters that populate God’s creation are reined in and kept in their proper places, God also cares for them and celebrates them as glorious and proud. This is a universe in which the wild and chaotic are restrained without being shamed. In light of this vision, Job recants his earlier view about the insignificance and shame of his body and confesses that God governs the world according to an order that is quite different from the one he had imagined.

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