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“Did Not He Who Made Me in the Belly Make Him, and the Same One Fashion Us in the Womb?”(Job 31:15)

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Violence, Slavery, and the Book of Job

image of Biblical Interpretation

Drawing on Slavoj Žižek’s book Violence, I apply the concepts of subjective, systemic, and symbolic violence to an analysis of the imagery and ideology of slavery in the book of Job. Much of the rhetoric of the book of Job paints Job as the innocent victim of subjective violence. As part of this, Job deploys the imagery of slavery to portray both his suffering and his righteousness. Within the world of the story, however, Job is the principal beneficiary of the systemic violence of the institution of slavery. His rhetoric renders invisible the systemic violence of slavery, and displaces his own slaves from consideration as victims of violence. With regard to systemic violence, Job is revealed to be a perpetrator more than he is a victim.

Affiliations: 1: University of Otago, New


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