Playing with Leviathan: Interpretation and Reception of Monsters from the Biblical World


Since ancient times Leviathan and other monsters from the biblical world symbolize the life-threatening powers in nature and history. They represent the dark aspects of human nature and political entities and reveal the supernatural dimensions of evil. Ancient texts and pictures regarding these monsters reflect an environment of polytheism and religious pluralism. Remarkably, however, the biblical writings and post-biblical traditions use these venerated symbols in portraying God as being sovereign over the entire universe, a theme that is also prominent in the reception of these texts in subsequent contexts.
This volume explores this tension and elucidates the theological and cultural meaning of ‘Leviathan’ by studying its ancient Near Eastern background and its attestation in biblical texts, early and rabbinic Judaism, Christian theology, Early Modern art, and film.

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Koert van Bekkum, Ph.D. (2010) Theological University, Kampen, is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at that university. He is author of From Conquest to Coexistence. Ideology and Antiquarian Intent in the Historiography of Israel’s Settlement in Canaan (Brill, 2011).

Jaap Dekker, Ph.D. (2004) Theological University, Apeldoorn, holds the Henk de Jong Chair as Professor of Biblical Studies and Identity at that university. He published Zion’s Rock-Solid Foundations. An Exegetical Study of the Zion Text in Isaiah 28:16 (Brill, 2007).

Henk van de Kamp, Ph.D. (1990) Theological University, Kampen, is minister of the Reformed Church (liberated) in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.

Eric Peels, Ph.D. (1992) Theological University, Apeldoorn, is Professor of Old Testament at that university. He published The Vengeance of God. The Meaning of the Root NQM and the Function of the NQM-texts in the Context of Divine Revelation in the Old Testament (Brill, 1995).

Contributors are: Nicholas Ansell, Koert van Bekkum, Gijsbert van den Brink, Ad de Bruijne, Jaap Dekker, Kees Haak, Rob van Houwelingen, Henk van de Kamp, Dirk van Keulen, Marjo Korpel, Anique de Kruijf, Gert Kwakkel, Johannes de Moor, Michael Mulder, Eric Peels, Reinier Sonneveld, Theo van Spanje, and Ben van Werven.

Part 1: Ancient Near East

1 The Leviathan in the Ancient Near East

Marjo Korpel and Johannes de Moor

Part 2: Old Testament

2 God and the Dragons in the Book of Isaiah

Jaap Dekker

3 As a Fish on Dry Land. Some Remarks on Tannîn in Ezekiel

Ben van Werven

4 “Is Your Rage Against the Rivers, Your Wrath Against the Sea?” Storm-God Imagery in Habakkuk 3

Koert van Bekkum

5 The Monster as a Toy. Leviathan in Psalm 104:26 77

Gert Kwakkel

6 “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find The(ir Wisdo)m”. Behemoth and Leviathan in the Book of Job 90

Nicholas Ansell

Part 3: Early and Rabbinic Judaism

7 Leviathan on the Menu of the Messianic Meal. The Use of Various Images of Leviathan in Early Jewish Tradition

Michael Mulder

Part 4: New Testament and Early Christianity

8 Romans 16:17–20a: Imminent Danger and Victory

Theo van Spanje

9 The Air Combat between Michael and the Dragon. Revelation 12:7–12 in Relation to Similar Texts from the New Testament

Rob van Houwelingen

10 Leviathan and the Monsters in Revelation

Henk van de Kamp

Part 5 Theological Reflections

11 God and the Suffering of Animals

Gijsbert van den Brink

12 “God Deals More Roughly with His Creature than We Would Like”. Leviathan in the Work of Arnold A. van Ruler

Dirk van Keulen

13 Modern Political Society as Leviathan. Interpretation and Application of Thomas Hobbes’ Use of a Biblical Symbol

Ad de Bruijne

14 The Dragon / Snake in Myth, Religion and Mission. Fear of Death Defeated by the Message of Life

Kees Haak

Part 6 Iconographic Representations

15 A Glimpse of the Beast. Leviathan in Late Medieval and Early Modern Art

Anique de Kruijf

16 Incarnations of Death: Leviathan in the Movies

Reinier Sonneveld

Index of Ancient Sources

Index of Geographical and Personal Names

Index of Subjects

Index of Modern Authors
All interested in Leviathan, Ancient Near Easters Religion and Iconography, Biblical Studies, Judaism, Reception History and Christian Theology.
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