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Bruce Almighty
Many humans have questioned God. The book of Job provides the classic example of human suffering leading to questions.  Bruce Almighty takes a light-hearted look at someone who questions the way life works. The film provides a foil for considering how someone else might run things, along with all of the implications. (For a reading of Behemoth as “What if Job ran things” see J. V. Kinnier Wilson, “A Return to the Problems of Behemoth and Leviathan,” Vetus Testamentum 25 [1975]: 1-14.)
(1) Get it free from your local library, or click here to view Bruce Almighty instant video (2003, Tom Shadyac, 101 min.); (2) Read Job 38-42 and Gen 1-3.

Interaction with the reading

What is the theological function of God’s challenges to Job concerning Behemoth? Leviathan? The entire challenge concerning the cosmos and animal kingdom?

(optional) How does Wilson interpret the passage on Behemoth in the book of Job? What are the merits and shortcomings of this interpretation?

Interaction with the film[1]

How did the film deal with the (potential) problem of a blasphemous theme? Do you think the filmmakers handled this rightly, or how else could they have dealt with the issue?

What kinds of issues were in Bruce Nolan’s set of concerns and challenges at the beginning of the story? In what ways did Bruce become divinelike? In what ways did Bruce not seem divinelike? When given the opportunity to use the power of God how did he handle his own problems and those of others? Why was Bruce powerless to make someone freely choose something? What did Bruce learn about God and about himself from this opportunity?

What does the film say about the problem of evil in theistic perspective?

What does the film say about prayer?

Within the fictive world of the film what adjustments need to be made to reflect the scriptural view of God’s sovereignty, human willfulness, and the problem of evil?

Additionally, you may wish to consider other film interpretation issues.

Broad interaction

What new issues were raised, or what new ways to look at old issues, by your reflection and discussion for this assignment?

What suggestions would you give to a local church leadership team which is constructing a weekend retreat that will include studying Job 38-42 and discussing Bruce Almighty?

[1] A couple of questions indebted to Dean A. Kowalski, Classic Questions and Contemporary Film: An Introduction to Philosophy (McGraw-Hill, 2005), chap. 3.

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