[The Historical/Immortal Jesus Christ.]

The life of Christ is understood by the Church on the one hand as an historical, and on the other hand as an eternally existing, mystery. This is especially evident in the sacrifice of the Mass. From a psychological standpoint this view can be translated as follows:

Christ lived a concrete, personal, and unique life which, in all essential features* had at the same time an archetypal character. This character can be recognized from the numerous connections of the biographical details with worldwide myth-motifs.

These undeniable connections are the main reason why it is so difficult for researchers into the life of Jesus to construct from the gospel reports an individual life divested of myth. In the gospels themselves factual reports, legends, and myths are woven into a whole.

This is precisely what constitutes the meaning of the gospels, and they would immediately lose their character of wholeness if one tried to separate the individual from the archetypal with a critical scalpel. The life of Christ is no exception in that not a few of the great figures of history have realized, more or less clearly, the archetype of the hero’s life with its characteristic changes of fortune. But the ordinary man, too, unconsciously lives archetypal forms, and if these are no longer valued it is only because of the prevailing psychological ignorance. Indeed, even the fleeting phenomena of dreams often reveal distinctly archetypal patterns.

At bottom, all psychic events are so deeply grounded in the archetype and are so much interwoven with it that in every case considerable critical effort is needed to separate the unique from the typical with any certainty. Ultimately, every individual life is at the same time the eternal life of the species. The individual is continuously “historical” because strictly time-bound; the relation of the type to time, on the other hand, is irrelevant.

Since the life of Christ is archetypal to a high degree, it represents to just that degree the life of the archetype. But since the archetype is the unconscious precondition of every human life, its life, when revealed, also reveals the hidden, unconscious ground life of every individual. That is to say, what happens in the life of Christ happens always and everywhere.

In the Christian archetype all lives of this kind are prefigured and are expressed over and over again or once and for all. And in it, too, the question that concerns us here of God’s death is anticipated in perfect form. Christ himself is the typical dying and self-transforming God. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Paragraph 146.

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