What’s Godzilla doing in the Book of Job?
I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks of Job when watching Godzilla.
The monstrous, fire-breathing sea beast is back on the pop-culture radar with this weekend’s release of yet another Hollywood take on the Japanese legend. This new Godzilla is actually a pretty decent monster movie, partly because it has a healthy respect for the 1954 original.
Elijah Davidson, co-director of Reel Spirituality, recently watched the older version for the first time and afterwards put together this frame-by-frame comparison of the 1954 Godzilla and descriptions of Leviathan from Job 41. Eyes like the rays of dawn? Breaking iron as if it was straw? Causing the depths to churn like a boiling pot? Certainly sounds like Godzilla, and Davidson has the pictures to prove it.
This striking Biblical imagery – of an aquatic behemoth man cannot contain – is meant to put Job in his place. Up until this point, Job has spent many chapters decrying the suffering that God has allowed him to endure. When God eventually responds, it’s with a litany of examples of His awesome power. Among these is Leviathan, which is an earthly creature but could also serve as a symbol for God Himself. As Davidson notes, God’s description of Leviathan concludes this way: “He looks on all the proud; he is king over all proud beasts.”
Causing the depths to churn like a boiling pot? Certainly sounds like Godzilla.
In the new Godzilla, the title creature is exactly this sort of humbling figure – a magnificent monster who seriously squashes the whole human dominion thing. In ways both witty and mournful, the human characters in Godzilla are shown to be helpless, ineffective and almost insignificant. Despite all their military might, technological ingenuity and inspirational resilience, they’re only slightly more involved in the action than those of us sitting in the theater. Instead, the movie gives prominence to the awesomeness of Godzilla and a pair of gargantuan costars, which resemble giant spider cockroaches (and don’t really match any of the descriptions in Job). As these monsters hunt and eat and attempt to breed, they barely seem to notice the people scurrying like ants beneath their claws.
The 2014 Godzilla, then, is an uncontrollable force of nature more than anything else. (In my review I compared watching the film to getting caught in a staggering windstorm.) And that too is in keeping with the nature imagery God uses in Job 38 in order to remind Job of the Supreme Being he has been railing against:
Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
Job doesn’t. We don’t. Godzilla ... just might.