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Paradoxes Mythology and Emotion in Western Religion

Paradoxes, Mythology, and Emotion in Western Religion

Jung embarks upon a psychological discussion of religion through means of analysis, comparisons, and critiques of Western and Eastern tradition in hopes of finding a medium ground between the two cultures and a more stable, more fulfilled and healthy, spiritual self. As we shall discover, Jung, a Western Christian, places a great emphasis of enlightenment on the religions of the East while pointing out the inherent problems of Western discourse. The disjuncture between Jung’s biography and status as a 20th century European and his apparent praise of the Eastern self point to an inherent problem in the reliability of Western ideas for this particular Westerner. While we will take the time today to outline the basic tenants, as Jung sees them, of Western and Eastern religion, I shall begin with a discussion of Jung’s analysis of the Book of Job so that we might all be on an equal footing for the proceeding comparisons and analyses of the East.


If we take Jung’s rather lengthy comments on the Western God, and more specifically of Yahweh (the Old Testament version), in comparison to the people of the Pre-Common Era world, we will see how Jung deviates from standard psychological analysis in favor of a literary one performing a character study of Christian mythological figures. Taking Job as his text, Jung applies the criticism of psychological thought to get at the literary, figurative, and performative aspects of the relationship between the God of the Old Testament and his most notable creation, man. While the “Answer to Job” is quite different from the style of Jung’s discussions to which we have become accustomed, let me suggest this text to represent Jung’s old age, his failure to reconcile his religious beliefs earlier, and the necessity to find the spiritual next step so common of elderly people. While not seeking to discredit this work, let me merely suggest that we take this text not as a precise and innovative psychological discussion but rather as a religious epithet of a man facing the Ever Lasting.


That said, let me now turn to the summary of Job Jung provides and attempt to outline the conflicts of the text as Jung sees them. In brief, Job is the story of Yahweh’s approval of Satan to tempt a righteous man so that Yahweh might justify his...

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