The Best Theologians Might Be Psychologists

Due to a ridiculous schedule that precludes writing anything of substance, I’ll give an all-too-brief recommendation: read Carl Jung’s exegesis of the Job story. It’s the most insightful– and hilarious– deconstruction of the entire thing I’ve ever read, and that’s coming from someone who’s completed far too much graduate work in religion.

Behold, teasers:

“[Yahweh’s] faithful servant Job is now to be exposed to a rigorous moral test, quite gratuitously and to no purpose, although Yahweh is convinced of Job’s faithfulness and constancy, and could moreover have assured himself beyond all doubt on this point had he taken counsel with his own omniscience.” (1)

“The plea of [Yahweh’s] unconsciousness is invalid, seeing that he flagrantly violates at least three of the commandments he himself gave on Mount Sinai.” (2)

William Blake

This whole analysis wonderfully brings out Yahweh’s off-base argumentative approach to the entire situation, along with all the bluster and blindness involved: “… he comes riding along on the tempest of his almightiness and thunders reproaches at the half-crushed human worm: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without insight?’ In view of the subsequent words of Yahweh, one must really ask oneself: Who is darkening what counsel? The only dark thing here is how Yahweh ever came to make a bet with Satan.” (3) And: “Altogether, [Yahweh] pays so little attention to Job’s real situation that one suspects him of having an ulterior motive… Job is no more than the outward occasion for an inward process of dialectic in God. His thunderings at Job so completely miss the point that one cannot help but see how much he is occupied with himself.” (4)

Really, I’m going to have to go back and read this excerpt (it’s part of the collection, The Essential Jung), as well as the whole damn book from which it came (Answer to Job), three or four times, probably gaining ever more enjoyment out of each subsequent reading. Who says psychology can’t be downright and profoundly hilarious?

(1) “From Answer to Job,” in Carl Jung, The Essential Jung, Selected and Introduced by Anthony Storr (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 310.
(2) 311.
(3) 312.
(4) 313.


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