Original Research - Special Collection: Nicholas Allen Festschrift

Exploring the feminine-masculine dichotomy in Job 1:15-19: A text-art collaboration

Adriaan Lamprecht
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2972 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2972 | © 2023 Adriaan Lamprecht | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 April 2023 | Published: 09 October 2023

About the author(s)

Adriaan Lamprecht, Department of Ancient Texts, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


This article addresses the problematic nature of the traditional approach to interpreting and translating Job 1:15–19 and the conventional artistic depictions of the four calamities experienced by Job. The traditional view is grounded in an objectivistic perspective on language, which assumes that meaning is founded on historical truth and can only be established through direct correspondence between a sentence and an objective state in the world. However, this approach is problematic when viewed through the lens of experientialist language theory, and its emphasis on representational formats. This article argues that the representational format in the narrative of Job 1:15–19 is characterised by a fixed conceptual element; specifically, the dichotomy between feminine and masculine, which operates as a contested point within the narrative. To establish the boundaries and refine the theoretical principles necessary for elucidating unconscious conceptual image schemas such as feminine-masculine, this article proposes a blended text-art approach as a means of representing the perceptual system that underlies this contested concept. Collaborating with a local artist, Hennie Kruger, the aim of this article is to identify meaningful patterns in the image schema and provide a redescription of experience, by means of a process of perceptual meaning analysis within the context of art, as an ‘essentially contested concept’. This article personifies Sheba as a metonymy for the voiceless sufferer – the widow and orphan – as well as fire from God out of heaven, mantic wisdom, and wind-all in the feminine gender. By rendering abstract concepts more immediate and accessible, the image schema of feminine-masculine is made more tangible. While the image schema of feminine-masculine is inherently schematic, and therefore, more abstract in nature, the combination and flow of the four paintings embody the concordant nature of an image schema, with individual mental images elucidating the details of the schema. Ultimately, the paradox evident in each scene serves to illustrate the disruption of the divine order within the feminine-masculine image schema.

Contribution: This article contributes to the understanding and translation of the calamities described in Job 1 in the Hebrew Bible.


Job 1; calamity; art; feminine–masculine image schema; Bible.


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