Answer to Job
Answer to Job (German: Antwort auf Hiob) is a 1952 book by Carl Gustav Jung that addresses the moral, mythological and psychological implications of the Book of Job. It was first published in English in 1954.
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Jung considers the Book of Job a landmark development in the "divine drama", for the first time contemplating criticism of God (Gotteskritik). Jung described Answer to Job as "pure poison", referring to the controversial nature of the book (Storr, 1973). He did, however, feel an urge to write the book. The basic thesis of the book is that as well as having a good side, God also has a fourth side - the evil face of God. This view is inevitably controversial, but Jung claimed it is backed up by references to the Hebrew Bible. Jung saw this evil side of God as the missing fourth element of the Trinity, which he believed should be supplanted by a Quaternity. However, he also discusses in the book whether the true missing fourth element is the feminine side of God. Indeed, he saw the dogmatic definition of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary by Pope Pius XII in 1950 as being the most significant religious event since the Reformation. Another theme in the book is the inversion of the myth that God sent his son Christ to die for the sins of humanity. Jung maintains that upon realizing his mistreatment of Job, God sends his son to humankind to be sacrificed in repentance for God's sins. Jung sees this as a sign of God's ongoing psychological development.
The author Joyce Carol Oates, in her review "Legendary Jung" (from her collections of essays The Profane Art), considers Answer to Job to be Jung's most important work.
The Episcopal Bishop and humanist Christian author John Shelby Spong, in his book Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World (2011), also considers Answer to Job to be Jung's "most profound work" (page 164).
Jungian scholar Murray Stein claims Jung viewed the Book of Job as an example of a Scriptural religious experience:
- "In Jung’s interpretation, Job is completely innocent. He is a scrupulously pious man who follows all the religious conventions, and for most of his life he is blessed with good fortune. This is the expected outcome for a just man in a rationally ordered universe. But then God goes to work on him, tests him with misfortune, reduces him to misery, and finally overwhelms him with questions and images of divine majesty and power. Job is silenced, and he realizes his inferior position vis-a-vis the Almighty. But he also retains his personal integrity, and this so impresses God that He is forced to take stock of Himself. Perhaps He is not so righteous after all! [ As Marc Fonda observes, God’s omniscience precludes self-awareness. Being omniscient, God has no concentrated self to speak of. Being a part of everything, God has no opportunity to distinguish self from non-self. However, as God knows the thoughts of humans, through the thoughts of his creation he can experience what self-awareness is. ] And out of this astonishing self-reflection, induced in God by Job’s stubborn righteousness, He, the Almighty, is pushed into a process of transformation that leads eventually to His incarnation as Jesus. God develops empathy and love through his confrontation with Job, and out of it a new relationship between God and humankind is born."
- Rascher (1953, 1961, 1967)
- Walter Verlag (1985) ISBN 3-530-40768-2
- Dtv (1990) ISBN 3-423-35121-7, (2001) ISBN 3-423-35171-3
- trans. R. F. C. Hull, in Psychology and Religion, v.11, Collected Works of C. G. Jung, (Princeton University Press, 1973) ISBN 0-691-01785-9
- Online excerpt of Answer to Job
- Paul Bishop, Jung's Answer to Job: A Commentary, Brunner-Routledge (2002) ISBN 1-58391-240-1
- Storr, A. (1973). Jung. Fontana Modern Masters Series.