One of Carl Jung’s most controversial works, Answer to Job, is a deep psychological and mythological breakdown of, perhaps, the most confusing books of the Bible: The Book of Job, and, in turn, God as a psychological phenomenon.
I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the actual story of Job, but I should give a brief summary for those who are not.
Here is the Sparknotes short summary, which I think is pretty good.
Job is a wealthy man living in a land called Uz with his large family and extensive flocks. He is “blameless” and “upright,” always careful to avoid doing evil (1:1). … God boasts to Satan about Job’sgoodness, but Satan argues that Job is only good because God has blessed him abundantly.
But that is only the beginning. God makes a bet against Satan. He challenges Satan to his words, in turn, giving Satan full reign on what he [Satan] should do to Job, thus, becoming a co-conspirator against the very commandments God himself laid out: thou shall not murder, thou shall not steal.
One quick note. First, you might ask, why the book of Job? Has God not already broken his own commandments? Has he not already struck his hand against mankind? To that, I would say, yes, though in the case of Job, although, seemingly, arbitrarily chosen, it actually plays a fairly significant role in relationship to the rest of the Bible, namely, the Birth and Death of Christ, but I’ll get to that later.
In this case, Job, an innocent man, having done nothing against God, is given over to Satan; a true act of evil, seemingly. But God is not evil, right? Although Jung doesn’t explicitly go out and say “God is evil” he does state that with this act, once more, the fourth face of God is revealed, the darker side, or, in Jungian terms, God’s Shadow.
From here, the traditional understanding of the “Holy Trinity” becomes the “Quadernity”, with the fourth part being the feminine side of God. Not only does this explain so many of the deeply questionable actions God himself has done, but, now shines a new light onto Protestantism which was a result of the Reformation. Jung argues that, if to only accept the “Holy Trinity” as true, “It leaves Protestantism with the odium of being nothing but a ‘man’s religion’ which allows no metaphysical representation of woman.”
But, as Jung points out, the feminine part of the Quadernity has always been present in the Bible, namely, in the book of Proverbs 8:1:
Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
Then, in Proverbs 8:22 is Wisdom, feminine part of the Quadernity, described once more.
The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning,
when the world came to be
He says that mythologically, this feminine side has been represented as Sophia, deriving from the Greek word Sophos, which means wisdom. Sophia is the wisdom of God, although never explicitly stating her name is “Sophia” it is implied that this here is the same wisdom that has been described mythologically.
And like I said, this was not the first time as from the very book of Genesis did you see the evil face of God. In the stories of Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Abraham and Sodom & Gamorah, God showed both his love but at other times, his devastating, amoral power.
And in the Book of Job, as Job lost everything, his family, his wealth, and his friends, he never lost his faith.
His friends even insist: “But if you would earnestly seek God and ask the Almighty for mercy,” (Job 8:5). And what they’re really saying is, God only punishes this who’ve done him wrong, so go seek repentance, and may he have mercy on you. But Job had done no wrong.
This is explicitly known because of the beginning of the book in which God speaks to Satan.
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one on earth like him, a man who is blameless and upright, who fears God and shuns evil.”
Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not placed a hedge on every side around him and his household and all that he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”
“Very well,” said the LORD to Satan. “Everything he has is in your hands, but you must not lay a hand on the man himself.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD
And a few lines later it even says, “In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:22) It was but only God who was the perpetrator and allower of this evil. With the help of Satan, God alone is held responsible.
Jung continues to explain with references to several parts of the Bible, even including parts omitted, specifically, the book of Enoch and the Book of Ezekial, that within this Divine Drama, it was Job himself who speaks forth of the coming of the Son of God, the one who will make right against the evil actions of God.
“I know my Vindicator lives, at last, he shall stand upon the Earth.” – Job 19:25
And that’s who Christ was: The Answer to Job, but not just Job, but to all those before him. It was Job who forces God to realize that he no longer held the upper moral hand, but now man, now Job. This causes God to begin the self-reflect, or, as Jung puts it, consult his omniscience, and realize Job was right.
Because of this, it now up to God to reconcile for his actions. He must develop a new relationship with mankind.
And this is where the current notion of the Christian doctrine now is flipped. It is not God who saves man, but mankind who saves God. And from this, the New Testament was born, furthering the psychological development of God.
God sends his son into the hands of man to be sacrificed in repentance for God’s sins. And in this whole book, Jung argues, it only furthers the idea that God wants to become human, that way, he can reveal the loving side of himself, the part many purely see him as: the loving, good God.
But, the whole myth, the Divine Drama, it comes full circle when Jesus, God in human form, he’s left dying on the cross and repeats the same words that Job implied with his case against God: “My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me?”
Actually, there are seven phrases of Jesus as he died on the cross. And here they are.
- Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
- Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
- John 19:26–27: Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother
- Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34 My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
- John 19:28: I thirst.
- John 19:30: It is finished. (From the Greek “Tetelestai” which is also translated “It is accomplished”, or “It is complete”.)
- Luke 23:46: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.
Though these have been interpreted theologically as Christ saving man, it still doesn’t seem to explain the original narrative: man was in need of saving. Though, with the ideas brought forth in Answer to Job, it does seem to fit, almost perfectly, it was God who was the one who was saved.
And when Christ said, “It is finished”, I think Jung, although never commenting on this particular verse, would say, God, now, paid the price for his actions against Job, and thus, a new relationship with God can now be established, a more personal one; one with the loving, more conscious side of God.
I know this is such a controversial notion of the Christian story, as Answer to Job was not even published in America due to its controversial nature. But, as Jung used his extreme, in-depth knowledge of the Christian mythology, he was able to use his psychological background to then understand the Psychology of God, and to realize, God, was the unconscious trying to become man [conscious].
And this was perfectly put by someone who wrote an analysis as well right here, to which I’ll end this with.
“He emphasized that for him it was enough to know God as part of his own personal psychology as this was proof that God existed”
thanks for reading,