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In 1 Samuel 17, Goliath is described using animal imagery, depicted like a sea creature, a lion and bear, a dog, and scavengers’ prey. I argue that these images present Goliath as not fully human, and contribute to the construction of his masculinity and ethnicity. This article traces the following trajectory: masculinity is established then undermined; the foreigner encroaches then is expelled. Goliath is introduced as a hypermasculine ultrapredator. Akin to a sea monster from the chaotic beyond, he has an exoskeleton of fish-scale armour (17:5). David then likens Goliath to lions and bears (17:34–37), imperial symbols for fearsome foreign nations. David, though, can grasp their beards (overturning their masculinity) and slay them. Goliath perceives David to be treating him like a scavenging dog (17:43)—a dishonorable creature encroaching where it does not belong. Consequently, the opponents threaten to give the other’s flesh to the birds and beasts (17:44, 46). Their bodies’ masculine wholeness is disarticulated by scavengers and expelled from society.

Open Access
In: Biblical Interpretation
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Abstract

Three new monographs have appeared in 2023 that explore the Bible and nonhuman animals: Peter Joshua Atkins, The Animalising Affliction of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4: Reading Across the Human-Animal Boundary (London: T&T Clark, 2023; pp. xiv + 260); Dong Hyeon Jeong, Embracing the Nonhuman in the Gospel of Mark (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2023; pp. xii+177); Saul M. Olyan, Animal Rights and the Hebrew Bible (New York: OUP, 2023; pp. xii+144). This review brings these books into conversation, suggesting six questions that they grapple with and which might stimulate further research.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

In Job 30:1–8, Job dehumanises his detractors: he depicts his low-class opponents as vile creatures in the wilderness. Dehumanisation has been a common strategy to devalue outgroups from Job’s time to our own. It functions by assuming a human-animal hierarchy (in which animals lack value), and mapping it onto a social hierarchy, delegitimising the animalised individuals at the bottom. By using this strategy, Job reveals his prejudice around other species and low classes. The logic of the divine speeches, however, overturns both these prejudices. The speeches respond to Job’s classism, not by denying that low-class humans are animals, but rather by celebrating animals (38:39–39:30). For Job, the non-human was a source of derision; for God it is a source of delight.

Open Access
In: Biblical Interpretation

Abstract

Ruminations on death recur throughout Job. Equally, language of the non-human world is prevalent. This article examines the coalescence of these tropes in the implicit “necro-ecology” of the book. As though observing the decomposition of a corpse, it focusses on four Joban images, each expressing human death in non-human terms: maggots colonise the cadaver; scavengers consume it. The body disintegrates into dust; plants grow and wither there. At each stage, the article shows how death and life are entangled together, the one requiring and enabling the other. Equally, beings are entangled with each other, challenging the human pretence to self-contained individuality. The article thus fits into a broader trend in the (post)humanities to cultivate scholarship conducive to multi-species flourishing, showing how Job provides fertile compost for symbiotic inter-species alliances of living and dying together.

Open Access
In: Biblical Interpretation

Abstract

Nathan tells David a story about a rich man who takes and kills a poor man’s lamb (2 Sam 12:1–4). This, it turns out, is figurative for David’s own deeds of killing Uriah the Hittite and taking his wife. The story and its application suggest the intersecting power dynamics between groups: rich and poor, male and female, native and foreigner—and, crucially, human and nonhuman. This article argues that intersectional analysis should include an interspecies dimension, and explores these dynamics at work through various mechanisms of relation. Low status human groups are connected with nonhumans through animalisation, and are thereby delegitimised. Nonhuman animals and animalised humans are positioned as objects within mechanisms of domination, such as exploitation, exchange, and semiosis. The relationship between the poor man and lamb, though, offers another possibility: alliance. Care can be extended across species lines, with implications for intergroup relations throughout the intersectional web.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

The meaning of מעדנת in 1 Sam 15:32 is disputed, variously being translated “trembling,” “in chains,” or “cheerfully.” Based on linguistic and contextual evidence, I argue that it is best translated “luxuriantly” or “well-fatted,” and depicts Agag like a fattened animal going to slaughter.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

Klaus Koch influentially argued that in Proverbs, the world is understood as a schicksalwirkende Tatsphäre—a sphere of activity effecting one’s fate. Act and consequence are intrinsically and organically bound together. Recent scholarship has cast doubt on these views. Some of Proverbs’ imagery, however, does seem to suggest such an act-consequence connection. The ‘path’, for example, is at once moral and salvific, or immoral and destructive. I suggest that through imagery of the path, the sage constructs a metaphorical schicksalwirkende Tatsphäre. It is not intended as an explanation of causality, but as a motivational model to affect the student’s behaviour.

In: Vetus Testamentum
In: Biblical Interpretation