“Answwer to Job”, Jung most polemical book
Jung claimed that “Answer to Job” reflects his subjective reaction, giving expression to the “shattering emotion which the unvarnished spectacle of divine savagery and ruthlessness produces in us”
The Old Testament. God (Yahweh) accepted a bet proposed by Satan, who claimed that he would make Job curse God if he could have his way. To win this bet, Satan, with Yahweh permission, destroyed the property of Job, killed all his children and submitted Job to a painful disease. But he did not succeed.
About Job the Lord stated: “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.“ How could God allow such injustice, such affliction to a man He considered “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil”? How could God allow Satan to hurt Job with so many disgraces to win a bet?
How was the book written?
Jung resisted writing “Answer to Job”. He wanted to avoid more polemic, since he had already received many criticisms from theologians for his last book “Aion”. But he was forced to go ahead; he could not escape the task. Jung said in a letter: “If there is anything like the spirit seizing one by the scruff of the neck, it was the way this book came into being”. He also said that “The book came to me during the fever of an illness.” According to Edward Edinger, one of the most important of Jung’s disciples, “the book was virtually dictated to him from the unconscious and, as soon as it was completed, his illness was over.”
The polemic of Answer to Job
Jung considers the Book of Job as a pivotal one in the Bible. His thesis is that God suffered an evolution after His discussion with Job. He was forced to incarnate in Christ and come to the world to increase His level of conscience.
Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, is complete. As such it is contains Good and Evil. Using Jungian words, He incorporates His Shadow. When He incarnates in Jesus, He splits his Shadow. As a result, Satan appears only four times in the Old Testament and sixty six times in the New Testament.
One of the first Fathers of the Church, Clemens of Rome, is quoted as having said that God directs the world with Christ in his right hand and Satan in his left.
Theologians could not accept the view of an unconscious God, or that Yahweh could incorporate Evil as well as Good. The church considers that all good comes from God and all evil from human beings and, fortunately for Jung, the period of the Inquisition was over.
The explanation of Answer to Job
Jung defined himself as an empirical psychologist and shunned any idea that he could be trying to get his hands in theology. He claimed that he could not say anything concerning God, the Great Force that created the universe. His subject was the archetype that every human being carries inside his psyche, that he called sometimes God, other times Self or Image of God.
The real God was unknowable to the human psyche. Probably only the mystics could have a direct contact with this Great Force, but cannot describe it using words. The Bible, composed by human beings, could only talk about this Image of God.
But the theologians did not want to hear Jung’s explanations. They were outraged. When emotion takes over, there is no chance for a rational discussion. Despite the fact that God in unknowable, and that the Bible was written by human beings, though inspired by the unconscious, they could not accept that the God of the Bible was not GOD, but “an archetypal God image that every human being keeps inside his psyche, since God himself cannot be captured by any human words or descriptions.”
And this God Image definitely evolved over time. How can we say that Yahweh the Old Testament God, wrathful and unfair, could be the same as Christ?
The common estimate is that Jung’s book is an impassioned and ruthless attack on the God of the Old Testament. That is not true. Psychologically considered, it is an attempt to come to terms with the luminous image God, the Self, and its shattering reality.
In my book – “The Jungian Bible” I comment the Bible text from a different point of view