Original Research - Special Collection: Theology and Economy and Environment

The possible impact of animals on Job’s body image: A psychoanalytical perspective

Pieter van der Zwan
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6696 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6696 | © 2021 Pieter van der Zwan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 April 2021 | Published: 30 September 2021

About the author(s)

Pieter van der Zwan, Department of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The body plays an important role in the book of Job – as do animals. According to psychoanalytical specifically object-relations theory, a subjective body image was partly constructed through the internalisation of external stimuli from significant others who mirrored the subject through their feedback or through their own bodies, which served as an ideal or critique to the subject. Amongst the external stimuli, animals constitute such significant others. Animals could therefore have impacted Job’s subjective body image, particularly as their bodies were described in detail by God as a response to Job’s complaints and searching.

Contribution: Two theoretical and interrelated problems were acknowledged although they cannot be satisfactorily solved: the cultural aspect of the body image and the relationship to animals.


book of Job; body image; animals; psychoanalytical; divine speeches; skin; psychic internalisation; body; religiosity


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Crossref Citations

1. Hearing the invisible: The ears of Job, a psychoanalytic perspective
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doi: 10.4102/hts.v78i1.7412