C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

To Pastor Olivier Vuille

Dear Pastor Vuille, 22 February 1946

Your question raises a problem which is not easy to solve.

If Hosea were a modern man his language would lead us to suppose that he had a special rapport with his mother, since the way he expresses himself denotes a great preponderance of feeling.

But it would be dangerous to conclude this about the ancient prophet, since the biographical details, which alone would permit us to draw such a conclusion, are absolutely lacking.

We have only one text whose singular content and peculiar language could be• understood as coming from other sources than the author’s particular personality.

And it must not be forgotten that this personality was speaking as a prophet.

This fact prevents us from making use of a personalistic psychology, since what a prophet imagines is derived far less from his personal unconscious than from the collective unconscious and can be explained only by the latter.

It is preferable, therefore, to explain Hosea’s imagery by the archetype of the “divine marriage” an image that he must have encountered frequently in his pagan
environment-than to derive it from a personal idiosyncrasy.

In the same way that we cannot deduce the principal ideas of Faust from Gothe’s attitude toward his parents, we are unable to make such deductions about Hosea, a man who lived in psychological conditions so different from our own that we can hardly imagine them.

Thus I cannot allow myself to make personalistic interpretations, especially as the language of prophecy does not seem to me to arise from the personal imagination but rather from collective imagery.

Here again -as in great poetry, religious experiences, prophetic dreams and visions-archetypal images are the causal factors, and they have little to do with the prophet’s individual disposition.

Hosea’s way of representing the relationship between the Divinity and his people as a marriage1 is completely explicable in the spiritual atmosphere of

Palestine and Syria in his time, where the idea of the hierosgamos played a great part.

I am taking the liberty of enclosing a study by one of my students, which I hope you will return at your convenience.

In it you will see the method we use for studying the psychology of cases like this.

With best regards,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol.1, Pages 414-415.