Monster Paradox: A Wirkungsgeschichte of Behemoth and Leviathan in light of Monster Theory
Wu, Chun Luen
Behemoth and Leviathan featured in the divine speech in Job 40–41 have been noted for their obscure nature; they have sparked a diverse range of interpretations and receptions over the course of history. While Jewish tradition by and large receives them positively as the source of food preserved for the righteous Jews in the life to come, Christianity has mostly taken them to be negative symbols of the Devil/Satan and the epitome of evilness since the early centuries. Even within Christian tradition, there have been divergent views on their theological significance: some see them as representations of chaos or evilness, whereas others take them to be significations of the divine power and sovereignty. The reception and use of Behemoth and Leviathan have continued into the modern age, in which they manifest themselves in a variety of cultural forms, not least in literature, visual art, and film. Through the lens of contemporary monster theory, this dissertation aims to relate the receptions, uses and consequences of Behemoth and Leviathan throughout history, and demonstrate how monster theory can shed light on the paradoxical implications of their monstrosity across religious traditions and social groups—ranging from ancient Israelites to later interpreters/interpretive communities—in the respective contexts.