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Carvalho, R. (1983). Hoeller, Stephan, A. The Gnostic Jung and the ‘Seven Sermons to the Dead’. Wheaton, U.S.A. The Theosophical Publishing House, 1982. Pp. xxviii + 239. N.p.. J. Anal. Psychol., 28(4):388-389.

(1983). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 28(4):388-389

Hoeller, Stephan, A. The Gnostic Jung and the ‘Seven Sermons to the Dead’. Wheaton, U.S.A. The Theosophical Publishing House, 1982. Pp. xxviii + 239. N.p.

Review by:
Richard Carvalho

Edited by:
Corinna Peterson

This book, as its title suggests, presents the thesis that Jung was, in the strict sense of the word, a gnostic; that he was, in a self-conscious way, part of a continuous gnostic tradition and that everything he wrote after the Seven Sermons to the Dead was gnostic as such. In addition, the author presents a translation of the sermons, together with extended commentaries.

Not being German-speaking I am not able to comment on the fidelity of the translation. I must say, however, that it is much less easy to read and far more clumsily written than the translation by Baynes. The commentaries I found illuminating in parts, particularly those on sermons IV, V and VI, which helped me clinically. The provision of commentaries on the sermons seems in itself to be an entirely admirable undertaking which fills a gap in the literature; it is, therefore, a pity that the book's many defects should be such an impediment to what is valuable in it.

To take relatively minor points first, the English is clumsy, flowery and, in parts, quaint. One wonders why the editors should have allowed this and more glaring errors such as the use of the phrase ‘taking umbrage’ when what seems to be meant is ‘taking shelter’ (p. 110), or the mis-spelling of ‘motes’ for ‘moats’ (p. 114). More importantly, however, no argument is presented for any of Hoeller's major points. He asserts that Jung was a gnostic with statements such as, ‘Only a Gnostic would do these things’ (p. 22), or, ‘we may be assured that this figure [Abraxas] proves Jung's Gnosis …’, and that failing to recognise Jung's gnosticism because he does not use terms such as Archon or Demiurge in the Sermons can only be attributed to an inability to appreciate the subtle code in which Jung's Gnosticism is articulated(p. 37).


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