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thus surreptitiously agrees with the first, defiant response. But there is a
third option: perhaps the creation is so stunning, the beast Leviathan so
spectacularly terrifying, that we are genuinely moved, truly transported
with awe, and no longer care about our pety concerns. The creation is so
splendid that we renounce our longing to live in an ethical universe in the first
place . At that point, our previous complaints look foolish, and we repent
of even raising them in dust and ashes. 151
This, I think, is the reading of Job that makes most spiritual sense. If
we take it seriously, though, it leads us far beyond the story of the cre-
ation, flood, and rainbow covenant. For one thing, this God doesn't
affirm the beauty of a creation that might submit meekly to human con-
trol; on the contrary, he celebrates the fire-breathing, iron-hearted, invul-
nerable monster Leviathan. In the old myths and rituals from which the
creation story comes, the heroic divine being produces our world by
defeating chaos—or in the Genesis version, that state in which “[t]he
earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the
deep” (1:2). The creator God is a tamer of chaos, a dragon slayer, a victor
over monsters; what's more, the God of the covenant promises never to
release the waters of the deep again, as if to reaffirm the original achieve-
ment of his creation. But in Job, God celebrates the monstrous. Not only
does this God show uter contempt for any covenant with human beings,
he points to his creation's terrifying power as the utmost sign of his sov-
ereignty, indicating that the very thing that would violate the covenant
is the most divine thing about him. It's not as if this God would unleash
the flood because he despises human sin; on the contrary, he is indiffer-
ent to human assertion, for in the presence of his transcendental power,
any human act has virtually no significance. It would not do, then, to
regard him as the God of the deluge; he is even more threatening than
that dark being. 152
It's worth remembering that this God declaims from amidst the whirl-
wind, as if to make absolutely clear that he is embodied in whatever is
most formless, threatening, and terrifying. But this God is even more ter-
rifying than chaos , for his ability to defeat chaos and give it organic form
in the monster Leviathan shows he is stronger than monstrosity itself.
Rather than being a slayer of the formless, this God takes the formless as
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