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C. G. Jung: Gnostic or Kabbalist?

Schlamm, Leon (2008) C. G. Jung: Gnostic or Kabbalist? In: Gilbert, Robert A., ed. Gnostic Movements and Secret Traditions. Ian Allen Publishing, London, pp. 132-142. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:11267)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.


This paper begins with an examination of the reasons for Jung’s sustained interest in Gnosticism, in particular identifying those Gnostic teachings (reinterpreted psychologically) which he believed anticipated his own work on the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious. It will, however, demonstrate, particularly through his handling of Gnostic writings in Aion, that Jung’s understanding of the individuation process was inconsistent with the anti-cosmic dualism of Gnostic materials available to him from Patristic sources and that, contrary to many of his critics, Jung never equated analytical psychology with the soteriological perspective of Gnosticism. As this account of Jung’s ambivalent relationship to Gnosticism unfolds, some differences between my reading of Jung’s handling of Gnostic materials and Robert Segal’s systematic interpretation of Jung’s writings on Gnosticism, widely endorsed within the Jungian clinical and scholarly community, will be examined. Finally, the paper argues that, given that many symbols and ideas of Gnosticism are shared with later Jewish and Christian Kabbalah (as well as European alchemy influenced by Kabbalah on which Jung drew far more heavily than Gnosticism), Jung’s psychological perspective, particularly after 1945 when he became more familiar with Jewish scholarship on Kabbalah through his association with Gershom Scholem and Zwi Werblowsky, is far closer to Kabbalah than Gnosticism. While Jung no more identified his work with Kabbalah than with Gnosticism, the paper draws attention to striking similarities between the thrust of the argument of his essay Answer to Job published in 1952 (only a year later than Aion) and the soteriological perspective of Kabbalah, particularly in its Lurianic form.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: L.P. Schlamm
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2009 14:20 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 09:49 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Schlamm, Leon.

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