Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 11: Answer to Job

by C. G. Jung

Book, 1969



Call number


Call number



Princeton, N.J.] Princeton University Press [1973, c1969]

Original publication date

1952 (German)
1954 (English: Hull)

Physical description

xv, 121 p.; 21 cm

Local notes

Considered one of Jung's most controversial works, Answer to Job also stands as Jung's most extensive commentary on a biblical text. Here, he confronts the story of the man who challenged God, the man who experienced hell on earth and still did not reject his faith. Job's journey parallels Jung's own experience--as reported in The Red Book: Liber Novus--of descending into the depths of his own unconscious, confronting and reconciling the rejected aspects of his soul.

This paperback edition of Jung's classic work includes a new foreword by Sonu Shamdasani, Philemon Professor of Jung History at University College London. Described by Shamdasani as "the theology behind The Red Book," Answer to Job examines the symbolic role that theological concepts play in an individual's psychic life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member paradoxosalpha
Just as Freud wrote Moses and Monotheism at the end of his career, in which he analyzed the Hebrew religious tradition; Jung wrote Answer to Job late in life as an attempt to integrate the Christian God! It is sometimes hilariously chatty, as when he remarks that "the family life of our first
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parents was not all beer and skittles." (p. 31) The central thesis is that the motive for the Christian Incarnation was to redeem God, whose moral inferiority had been disclosed by the events of Job. Jung's text culminates in a discussion of the Apocalypse.

Although Jung at first claims to be limiting his treatment to the psycho-symbolic dimensions of the Apocalyptic narrative, without discussing their parallels in historical events, he eventually succumbs to the latter temptation. Specifically, he points out the Roman Catholic church's doctrinal acceptance of the Assumption of the Virgin as a socio-historical realization of the Patmos vision of the Woman Clothed with the Sun.

In my reading, it occurred to me that the Catholic church can function like a great mythic barometer of Western society, because of its vast population, tightly integrated through an organismic hierarchy. And I wondered what "archetypal" conditions might be augured by that church's current focus of attention: priestly child abuse.

The paternal figure of the priest, denoted as benevolent and an agent of divine forgiveness, is now shown to have a terrible hidden aspect more fearsome than that of the God of Job. While that God was merely unjust in authorizing the torment of a righteous man, the God of the abusive priest is cruel in having his ministers victimize the innocent.

Of course, this cruelty is not entirely without biblical precedent. The plague on the firstborn of Egypt was, at least, visited on the offspring of tyrannous, non-Yahweh-respecting, unregenerate pagans who were thus understood as estranged from God. But the molestation of Roman Catholic children who have been brought to church for blessing and instruction is more reminiscent of Herod's massacre of the innocents, which usually portends an array of dark and worldly forces opposing God's attempt at sacrificial incarnation. In this case, though, it is God who sends the sacerdotal predators, like He sends the locusts from the bottomless pit in Revelation IX:

"For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails [were] like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt." (v. 19)
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LibraryThing member Angus
"Jung. . . .points out that the psychology of religion has two aspects, the psychology of religious persons and the psychology of religious 'contents.' He has himself, in this book, made a rare and original contribution to the latter."--A.M. Silver, British Journal of Psychology
LibraryThing member tkilgore
Four stars because it greatly expanded my view of the interpersonal dynamics of important Biblical events.

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