Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961
To Upton Sinclair
Dear Mr. Sinclair, 24 November 1952
Thank you ever so much for the kind reception you gave to my letter and to my apparent criticism.
I do not feel quite happy about my way of using the English language, since I seem to cause many misunderstandings.
I want, therefore, to make it quite clear that I fully appreciate not only your masterful portrait of a personal Jesus, but also the laudable tendency of your work to show an apathetic world the possibility of a personal approach to a highly debatable religious figure.
My letter has obviously given you cause to analyse the mental condition of its perpetrator.
Since it is a rule of thumb never to analyse any given subject without the pertinent association material (if there is any!), I want to support your analytic attempt by giving you some more necessary information: I have a certain picture of a personal Jesus.
It has been dimly suggested to me through certain New Testament data.
Yet the strongest impression carne to me from the Linceul de Turin, the Saint Suaire.
Its stern and august countenance has confirmed my formerly vague expectations.
I am, as a matter of fact, so profoundly impressed by the superiority of this extraordinary personality that I would not dare to reconstruct its psychology.
I am not at all sure that my mental capacity would be up to such a task.
That is why I must personally refrain from a biographical attempt.
You are quite right in contending that the world is entitled to demand something more positive from me than mere criticism.
As a matter of fact (since 1948) I have published everything sustainable which I have thought about the documentary phenomenon of Christ and its psychological reconstruction.
There are three essays:
1 . Symbolik des Geistes, 1948, p. 32 3-446 : “Versuch einer psychologischen Deutung des Trinitatsdogmas.”
2 . Aion, 1951, p. 15-379 : “Beitrage zur Symbolik der Selbst.”
3· Antwort auf Hiob, 1952.
People mostly don’t understand my empirical standpoint: I am dealing with psychic phenomena and I am not at all concerned with the naive and, as a rule, unanswerable question whether a thing is historically, i.e., concretely, true or not.
It is enough that it has been said and believed.
Probably most history is made from opinions, the motives of which are factually quite questionable; that is, the psyche is a factor in history as powerful as it is unknown.
In dealing with Christ, my point de depart is the Corpus Christianum in the first place.
It consists of the canonical writings exclusively.
From this source we learn not only of a personal and rational Jesus, but also and even foremost of an eschatological Christ.
I use (as others) the term “eschatology” in the wider sense (i.e., not only with reference to the parousia) viz. oneness with God, sonship, messianic mission, identity with the Anthropos (“Son of Man”), the glorified resurrected Christ, the Kvpwnov ayyAwv Kat rwv oatjMlvtwv and the iudex vivorum et mortuorum, not forgetting the pre-existent ,\6yo. [Greek letters not cut and pasted properly]
This irrational aspect is inseparable from the evangelical picture of Christ.
In the second place, in dealing with Christ’s historical effects, I have to take into account not only the dogmata of the Church but the Gnostics, and the later heretics also, right down to late mediaeval alchemy.
No wonder people don’t understand what it’s all about.
The trouble is they are still stuck with the silly question as to whether a metaphysical assertion is true or not, or whether a mythologem refers to a historical fact or not.
They don’t see, and they don’t want to see, what the psyche can do.
But there-alas-is the key.
Thank you for letting me see Professor Einstein’s highly complementary letter.
I am duly impressed and feel quite low.
Yours very truly,
P.S. I would have gladly sent you a copy of my books but they are not translated. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 95-98