Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961

To Dr. H.

Dear Dr. H., 30 August 1951

You must pardon my long silence.

In the spring I was plagued by my liver, had often to stay in bed and in the midst of this misery write a little essay (ca.100 typed pages) whose publication is causing me some trouble.

I am afraid of stirring up a hornets’ nest.

It is about the question you raised in your letter of 1 May.

I myself have the feeling that I have not yet found the right way to formulate my answer, i.e., the kind of presentation that would convey my views to the public without provoking too many misunderstandings.

My modus procedendi is naturally empirical: how to give a satisfactory description of the phenomenon “Christ” from the standpoint of psychological experience?

The existing statements about Christ are, in part, about an empirical man, but for the other and greater part about a mythological God-man.

Out of these different statements you can reconstruct a personality who, as an empirical man, was identical with the traditional Son of Man type, as presented in the then widely read Book of Enoch .

Wherever such identities occur, characteristic archetypal effects appear, that is, numinosity and synchronistic phenomena, hence tales of miracles are inseparable from the Christ figure.

The former explains the irresistible suggestive power of his personality, for only the one who is “gripped” has a “gripping” effect on others; the latter occur chiefly in the field of force of an archetype and, because of their aspatial and atemporal character, are acausal, i.e., “miracles .”

(I have just lectured at Eranos on synchronicity.)

The paper will soon appear in the acts of the Institute.

This remarkable effect points to the “psychoid” and essentially transcendental nature of the archetype as an “arranger” of psychic forms inside and outside the psyche.

(In theoretical physics the archetype corresponds to the model of a radioactive atom, with the difference that the atom consists of quantitative, the archetype of qualitative, i.e., meaningful, relationships, the quantum appearing only in the degree of numinosity.

In physics the quale appears in the irreducible quality of the so-called discontinuities as for instance in the quantum or in the half-life of radioactive substances.)

In consequence of the predominance of the archetype the personality that is “gripped” is in direct contact with the mundus archetypus, and his life or biography is only a brief episode in the eternal course of things or in the eternal revolution of “divine” images.

That which is eternally present appears in the temporal order as a succession.

“When the time was fulfilled’: the solitary creator-god transformed himself into a father and begot himself as a son, although from eternity, i.e., in the non-time of the Pleroma or in his transcendental form of being, he is father-son-spirit-mother, i.e., the succession
of archetypal manifestations.

Although the psychoid archetype is a mere model or postulate, archetypal effects have just as real an existence as radioactivity.

Anyone who is gripped by the archetype of the Anthropos lives the Godman-one can very well say that he is a God-man.

Archetypes are not mere concepts but are entities, exactly like whole numbers, which are not merely aids to counting but possess irrational qualities that do not result from the concept of counting, as for instance the prime numbers and their behaviour.

Hence the mathematician Kronecker could say: Man created mathematics, but God created whole numbers.

This description of Christ satisfies me because it permits a non-contradictory presentation of the paradoxical interplay of his human
and divine existence, his empirical character and h is mythological being.

The wordless or formless “gripping” is no argument against the presence of the archetype, since the very numinosity of the moment is itself one of its manifestations ( and the most frequent ), a primordial form of archetypal seizure, cf. Kairos and Tao or (in Zen) satori.

On account of its transcendence, the a archetype per se is as irrepresentable as the nature of light and hence must be strictly distinguished from the archetypal idea or mythologem (see “Der Geist der Psychologie” in Eranos-Jahrbuch 1946 ).

In this way the transcendence of the theological premise remains intact.

In the hope that I have answered your question at least to some extent, with best regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 21-23.