Monday, September 07, 2009


William Blake, Carl Jung and the author of the Book of Job, seem to agree that the experience of Job represented a change in the relationship of man and God.

Job struggles against the perceived injustice of God and the suffering it brings upon him. Job receives a direct intervention from God in the shape of God speaking to him from the whirlwind.

Because Job was truthful with God and confronted God with the human point of view, he received an answer demonstrating God's power, wisdom and mystery. After his trials Job's fortunes are restored and he receives God's favor.

The role that Satan (the personification of evil) plays in the story is pivotal. Satan is allowed by God to test Job because of Job's reputation for righteousness. This perhaps is the hinge of the story because Satan, not God is in charge of testing Job. In the end Job's demands convince God to relate to him directly.

Satan before the Throne of God, Illustrations to the Book of Job (Linnell Set)

Here is a quote from Jung in a letter to Morton Kelsey (from CARL JUNG: WOUNDED HEALER OF THE SOUL by Claire Dunne):

"This is what happens in Job: The creator sees himself through the eyes of man's consciousness and this is the reason why God has to become man, and why man is progressively gifted with the dangerous prerogative of the divine "mind." You have it in Christ's saying: "Ye are gods" and man has not even begun to know himself."

Edward Edinger, in ENCOUNTER WITH THE SELF: A JUNGIAN COMMENTARY ON WILLIAM BLAKE'S ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE BOOK OF JOB describes the encounter of Job with God as "a divine encounter by which the ego is rewarded with some insight into the transpersonal psyche." And he further says "The ego, by holding fast to its integrity, is granted a realization of the Self."

Blake's book, ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE BOOK OF JOB, consists of 21 plates which tell Job's story in a few words and in highly symbolic pictures. Plate 13 represents the encounter of Job with God in the whirlwind which is the intimate experience of a man directly with the numinous. The next plate, number 14, depicts a rebirth of consciousness. The central picture is surrounded with images and words from the creation story in Genesis. The text includes "When the morning Stars sang together & all the sons of God shouted for joy." (Job 38:7) The central image depicts at the top four angels among the stars rejoicing. In the center is kneeling God with outstretched arms and a bright sun-like halo. Beside him are Apollo with the sun, and Artemis with the moon. At the lowest level are Job his wife and the three confronters, who are allowed to witness the celebration of the this new stage of creation. The next seven plates illustrate the changed relationship between Job and God.

Damon in A BLAKE DICTIONARY explains the process Job underwent in terms to going through stages represented by the Seven Eyes of God. In the end "His manhood purged of all error, is now complete."

Each one of us is searching for images to represent indescribable experience.

For links to Blake's illustrations consult the post:
Blake's Pictures for Job

1 comment:

Larry said...

Excellent post, Ellie.
Re Jung's statement: "this is the reason why God has to become man" we have this from Blake: "Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is" (End of There is No Natural Religion (b)