Archetype of Revelation

Albrecht Dürer, The Revelation of St John: 9. St John Devours the Book- 1497-1498
Albrecht Dürer, The Revelation of St John: 9. St John Devours the Book- 1497-1498. US public domain, wikimedia

Carl Jung understood that, in archetypal terms, the God image is central in the process of Self-realization.

In the Western Biblical tradition, the Bible is an account of Western man in his relationship with the God. On an archetypal level, the Bible may also serve as an account of Western man in his relation to Self-realization. The over-arching archetypal narrative speaks to a split with God, and thus a split in the Self.

Biblical time begins with the loss of our intimate relationship with God. This is represented as a fall from primal unity in Eden. In archetypal terms this may represent a split in the Self, a fissure in our primal unity. Biblical time ends with a re-union with the God in Revelation. In archetypal terms this may represent wholeness, unity, Self-realization.

You may have noticed that in telling this biblical narrative,  the word man is emphasizedThe Bible is an account of Western man in his relationship with God. Christian history is ‘his story.’  It is a story of the fathers and the father’s fathers. Nonetheless it is a story which effects us all.

In Ruin the Sacred Truths, Harold Bloom states that God is primarily “the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.” Western history is founded upon religious history, and this history is the history of our fathers and our father’s fathers– as revealed within ‘The Book.’

Bloom says God is “known only through His historical self-revelations.” (p.149) God’s revelation occurs only rarely. Bloom explains,

“The invisible God of the Jews makes only a handful of actual appearances in the Bible, and only one of those–the Sinai Theophany, where the elders sit, eat, and gaze at him–does he fail to speak. Appearances account for less in the Bible than in very nearly any other literature.” (p.149)

History, from the moment that we fell from Eden to the moment that we will know God through revelation, is not only Biblical history but our spiritual history and our emotional history as well.

In archetypal terms, the invisible God may represent the Self of Western his-story. This overarching narrative tells a story of a God hidden from our sight, of a spit in psycho-spiritual life.

God shows himself only to our father’s fathers long ago. “Because everything already is in the past, and nothing that matters can be utterly new.” (p.152) Biblical history is a reference to the past. It is a remembrance of a loss. It is a book of mourning.

In mourning, mankind awaits the moment when he may realize the Self, as sacred. This represents a moment when he will no longer have to rely on the grand narratives of the fathers. For in Revelation, as much as in Self-realization, he will know God himself, as much as he will know his Self.

Revelation is partly an archetype of waiting, and awaiting. Perhaps we are awaiting the moment when we can claim our capacity to experience the Self, without having to rely upon our father’s fathers to determine the truth value of our experience.

Revelation becomes ours when we realize the capacity to know God, in so far as God is entwined with Self. No one can give us this relation to God or Self; no one can bestow it upon us as a blessing or indulgence. Only we can know God; only we can realize the Self.

Harold Bloom says: “We must be strong enough to bear our own freedom.” Even more than strength, perhaps we must be tender enough to feel our own feelings, creative enough to imagine, visionary enough to see. Most of all we must be capable of having a Self.

References:

  1. Harold Bloom (1991) Ruin the Sacred Truths: Poetry and Belief from the Bible to the Present