Original Research

Hearing the invisible: The ears of Job, a psychoanalytic perspective

Pieter van der Zwan
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 1 | a7412 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7412 | © 2022 Pieter van der Zwan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 February 2022 | Published: 27 July 2022

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Pieter van der Zwan, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Job’s body is ‘portrayed’ in a text that can be nothing more than audible. Compared with the eyes of Job (mentioned 49 times explicitly), his ears (mentioned 13 times, i.e., four times less than his eyes, perhaps because his ears are less visible) play a much more subtle role, underlying even his final confession in 42:5-6, where it seems/sounds that his eyes gave him (only) his final in-‘sight’. That leaves the impression that his ears give him access to the second-hand testimony of tradition but his eyes to his own, personal experience. The hypothesis of this study is that a psychoanalytical perspective can give additional meaning to this polarity and cooperation of the senses for both the main character and recipient of the book of Job in that Job’s (in)sight depends on the foundation of the aural experience, even the musical experience.

Contribution: A psychoanalytical perspective adds to the breadth and depth of insight gained from studying the role of the sensory experience in the narrative about the psychic and spiritual development of the protagonist in the Book of Job.


Book of Job; ears; hearing; psychoanalytical; acoustic; visual


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Crossref Citations

1. The possible psychoanalytical meanings of the mouth for mourning in the Book of Job
Pieter van der Zwan
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 78  issue: 4  year: 2022  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v78i4.7351