Mimetic Monsters

The Genesis of Horror in the Face of the Deep


  • Timothy Beal Case Western Reserve University




Keller, Beal, monsters, monstrous, chaos theory, order, complexity, Job, Leviathan, tehom, tehomaphilia, tehophany, chaosmos


This article reads between two recent explorations of the relationship between religion, chaos, and the monstrous: Catherine Keller’s Face of the Deep and Author's Religion and Its Monsters. Both are oriented toward the edge of chaos and order; both see the primordial and chaotic as generative; both pursue monstrous mythological figures as divine personifications of primordial chaos; both find a deep theological ambivalences in Christian and Jewish tradition with regard to the monstrous, chaotic divine; both are critical of theological and cultural tendencies to demonize chaos and the monstrous; and finally, both read the divine speech from the whirlwind in the book of Job as a revelation of divine chaos. But whereas one sees it as a call for laughter, a chaotic life-affirming laughter with Leviathan in the face of the deep, the other sees it as an incarnation of theological horror, leaving Job and the reader overwhelmed and out-monstered by God. Must it be one way or the other? Can laughter and horror coincide in the face of the deep?

Author Biography

Timothy Beal, Case Western Reserve University

Timothy Beal is Florence Harkness Professor of Religion at Case Western Reserve University.


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How to Cite

Beal, T. (2010). Mimetic Monsters: The Genesis of Horror in the Face of the Deep. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 4(1), 85–93. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v4i1.85