Religion's great and powerful mystery fascinates us, but it also terrifies. So too the monsters that haunt the stories of the Judeo-Christian mythos and earlier traditions: Leviathan, Behemoth, dragons, and other beasts. In this unusual and provocative book, Timothy K. Beal writes about the monsters that lurk in our religious texts, and about how monsters and religion are deeply entwined. Horror and faith are inextricable. Ans as monsters are part of religious texts and traditions, so religion lurks in the modern horror genre, from its birth in Dante's Inferno to the contemporary spookiness of H.P. Lovecraft and the Hellraiser films. Religion and Its Monsters is essential reading for students of religion and popular culture, as well as any readers with an interest in horror.
Timothy K. Beal holds the Harkness Chair of Biblical Literature at Case Western Reserve University. He is author of The Book of Hiding and co-editor of Reading Bibles, Writing Bodies, both published by Routledge.
"Imaginatively written, entertaining, and well researched, this work of creative scholarship is a fascinating read." -- CHOICE, R.L. Massanari, Alma College
"Wit and a style worthy of a novelist makes this foray into the turgid side of religions well worth a read; as entertaining as it is informative, and it is even rhetorically well grounded." -- Word Trade
"...well researched. Recommended for religion and popular culture collections." -- Library Journal
"...this is a fine, readable and often intriguing book." -- The Plain Dealer
"Historically informed, theologically astute, culturally savvy. This monstrously provocative book demonstrates that religion is never more fascinating than when it is most disturbing." -- Mark C. Taylor, author of The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture
"In his new volume, Religion and Its Monsters, as in his previous books, Timothy K. Beal demonstrates that erudition and knowledge can go together and find their way to readers everywhere." -- Elie Wiesel, author of Night
"Timothy Beal has let the monsters out of our cultural and religious basement and allowed them to roam freely - to our great benefit, distress, and delight. His is a detailed, learned, and engrossing book, and our understanding of religious disorientation bounds forward because of it." -- Frederick J. Ruf, author of The Creation of Chaos: William James and the Stylistic Making of a Disorderly World
"Ranging from the lair of Leviathan to the mosh pit of The Misfits, Beal's exhumation and dissection of religious monstrosity and monstrous religiosity is as entertaining as it is incisive." -- Stephen D. Moore, author of God's Gym: Divine Male Bodies of the Bible
"This is scholarship in cultural analysis at its best: well-documented, thought-provoking, and funny. Its crisp writing almost fools you into thinking it's simple. But it does what it says: it raises profound questions that survive their answers. Critical of the devastating prejudices that underlie the religious imagination, it stops short of moralizing. A bravura piece of what binds the cultural disciplines together." -- Mieke Bal, author of Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History
"This brilliant, twisted, imaginative book explores religion's dark side, from the predictable monsters of sacred texts to more startling choices from popular culture...When Beal concludes the book by explaining that 'our monsters are ourselves,' it comes not as a cultural indictment from a self-satisfied pundit but an astute observation by a witty and wise fellow traveler." -- Publishers Weekly
"In the course of this wide-ranging survey, Beal generates a diverse collection of textual studies that strongly support his thesis...He contributes strongly to the growing dialogue between biblical studies and horror studies...This book is thoroughly readable and engaging--it is truly hard to put down. Beal's use of humor is admirable. This book should be accessible to any reasonably well-educated adult, and even high school students, and it would be excellent for use in either college classes or church study groups. I highly recommend it to anyone with interests in this area." -- George Aichele, Adrian College
"The sophisticated thesis will please the scholar of religion; the accessibility of the volume will delight the student. Highly recommended." -- Religious Studies Review