Saturday, 3 February 2007

Jung's Answer to Job (1954)

Starting with the book of Job and the Eighty-Ninth Psalm, Carl Jung weaves in and out of Christian salvation history, leaving little bits of his worldview behind him, sometimes cramming it into the heart of the Christian faith and generally casting significant doubt on orthodox theology and theodicy. The bits of the Bible that interest him are Genesis, the Wisdom literature, Job, the Incarnation and Revelation, and he also discusses at length the apocryphal Book of Enoch, which is envisaged (at a deep theological-psychological level) partly as a preparation for Christ's coming.

Like his encounter with the Bible, my encounter with Jung's Answer was not unfruitful, but it was a pretty stiff test. Here are some of the more thought-provoking bits...

Enoch, in his ecstasy, recognizes himself as the Son of Man, or as the Son of God, although neither by birth nor by predestination does he seem to have been chosen for such a role. He experiences that godlike elevation which, in the case of Job, we merely assumed, or rather inferred as the inevitable outcome. Job himself seems to have suspected something of the sort when he declares: "I know that my Vindicator lives." This highly remarkable statement can, under the circumstances, only refer to the benevolent Yahweh. The traditional Christian interpretation of this passage as an anticipation of Christ is correct in so far as Yahweh's benevolent aspect incarnates itself, as its own hypostasis, in the Son of Man, and in so far as the Son of Man proves in Enoch to be a representative of justice and, in Christianity, the justifier of mankind. Furthermore, the Son of Man is pre-existent, and therefore Job could very well appeal to him. Just as Satan plays the role of accuser and slanderer, so Christ, God's other son, plays the role of advocate and defender. (106-7)

Notwithstanding the confused and heterodox Godhead here, Jung has hit on a theme worth investigating further (and I'm sure that someone like James Jordan or Peter Leithart already has, not to mention Milton in Paradise Lost) - but with a proper Christological focus. Christ, God's Son, is the reference point, and Satan, God's other 'son' is the (ANTI)type.

The future indwelling of the Holy Ghost in man amounts to a continuing incarnation of God. Christ, as the begotten son of God and a pre-existing mediator, is a first-born and a divine paradigm which will be followed by further incarnations of the Holy Ghost in the empirical man. But man participates in the darkness of the world, and therefore, with Christ's death, a critical situation arises which might well be a cause for anxiety. When God became man all darkness and evil was carefully kept outside. Enoch's transformation into the Son of Man took place entirely in the realm of light, and to an even greater extent this is true of the incarnation in Christ. It is highly unlikely that the bond between God and man was broken with the death of Christ; on the contrary, the continuity of this bond is stressed again and again and is further confirmed by the sending of the Paraclete. But the closer this bond becomes, the closer becomes the danger of a collision with evil... (114-5) [and CJ then goes on to one of his favourite themes, one of the main drivers of the book, the question of why even now God keeps Satan on such a long leash, cf. 86-7.]

It is altogether amazing how little most people reflect on numinous object and attempt to come to terms with them... One always participates for and against, and "absolute objectivity" is more rarely achieved here than anywhere else... If one has no religious beliefs, then one does not like to admit the feeling of deficit, but prates loudly about one's liberal-mindedness and pats oneself on the back for the noble frankness of one's agnosticism. From this standpoint it is hardly possible to admit the numinosity of the religious object, and yet its very numinosity is just as great a hindrance to critical thinking, because the unpleasant possibility might then arise that one's faith in enlightenment of agnosticism would be shaken... Enlightenment operates with an inadequate rationalistic concept of truth and points triumphantly to the fact that beliefs such as the virgin birth, divine filiation, the resurrection of the dead, transubstantiation, etc., are all moonshine. Agnosticism maintains that it does not possess any knowledge of God or of anything metaphysical, overlooking the fact that one never possesses a metaphysical belief but is possessed by it. Both are possessed by reason, which represents the supreme arbiter who cannot be argued with. But who or what is this "reason" and why should it be supreme? Is not something that has real existence for us an authority superior to any rational judgement, as has been shown over and over again in the history of the human mind? (148-9)

First published as Antwort auf Hiob (Zurich: Rascher Verlag, 1952).