Extracts

From Chapter 2.1, ‘Genesis’, p. 18

One particular aspect of Yahweh’s behaviour that Jung draws attention to is this: that although omniscient, he frequently acts as if, in Jung’s phrase, he did not ‘consult his omniscience’; he acts, apparently, as though he were ignorant of what he knows. Thus, for example, he can forbid Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and seem surprised when they nevertheless do so. While in principle having foreknowledge of their disobedience, his ‘knowledge of good and evil’ is restricted in practice to the one-sided opinion: ‘behold, it was very good’. Or again, he may ask questions (‘Where art thou?’) to which he ought already, in principle, to know the answers. This apparent ignorance is super-inscribed upon God’s activities in the world, eclipsing or casting a shadow over his actual omniscience. While man aspires to be God, God seems to play at being man. Thus, theologically, God knows the effects of his intervention in history; but, legally and aesthetically, must not be seen to know them, since such knowledge would make him guilty of complicity in the crimes of man, and, in addition, disrupt narrative sequentiality. Psychologically, he is split: in Jung’s terms, conscious in one part of his psyche of what he is obliged to censor and suppress in another, he relegates knowledge to the unconscious, modulating his eternal omniscience by occasional nescience. Structurally, the narrative imitates Yahweh, in that it pretends to be temporarily ignorant of what it knows; conversely, Yahweh imitates the narrative by declining, by and large, to reveal what the future.

Yahweh, as he cannot help knowing, but refrains from disclosing to himself, is trapped by an unyielding logic. God must solve the problem (all the more problematic for gods) of how to acquire ignorance, for omniscience requires that he should know everything without exception, ignorance included. Jung’s definition of God’s pleromatic identity, which confers upon him the possession of antithetical qualities, and the universal algebra of complementarity entail the same consequence: that nescience is a supplement destined to complete knowledge: its ezer knegdo.