Professor Edward Edinger, Psychiatrist, Jungian scholar, and Jehovah Witness, uses the book of Revelations to draw us into a web that intersects at the vertex of all of his many professional realms of interests and understandings. Once he has captured us there, in his own intellectual corner, he then "uses the theme of cultural transition" disguised as, and implicit in, the deeply symbolic scriptures taken from the book of Revelations, to advance an unlikely version of a very "familiar" theory of archetypes: One that turns out to be as much existentialist philosophy and depth psychology as hardcore religiosity.
And what a rich "mother lode" Edinger's mind turns out to be: Erudite and persuasive; inventive and logical, scary and seductive, intense and carefully thought out, meticulous in its details, but all done without a hint of the taint of anti-intellectual religiosity or fanaticism. The author commands his complex ship well through some of the roughest cultural, psychological and existential waters known to modern man, and skillfully brings it safely home to a believable harbor.
His theory is: that a psychological analysis of the book of Revelations reveals that the world as we know it will inexorably come to an end. But that the particular book of the bible that foretells the end, is not just literal religious prophesy, or an exercise in allegorical pre-Christian symbolic poetic license, nor even just the scattered images of a schizophrenic mind or worldview, but the rumblings of "yet-to-be-deciphered" meanings from deep within our collective and historical consciousness: The book of Revelations is "content," "symbolism," and "agency;" a living psychic organism, as it were, of rumblings that inhabit and serve the needs of the individual as well as the collective psyche.
It is in the analysis of the meaning of these rumblings that underlie the predictions that foreshadow a fundamental shift if not a breakup in the global paradigm of cultural and psychological understanding itself. As a paradigm of deep "personal" as well as "transpersonal" or collective psychology, Edinger reveals in these lectures that it is as much the change in the fundamental religious paradigm and the resistance to this change as anything else that represents the "moving psychological parts" of the archetype of the Apocalypse. For the change will be accompanied by a corresponding collective primal fear and resistance, emanating from a fundamentally "religious libido" -- a fear and resistance that will trigger a global psychosis and chaos that will cause a breakup in man's current cosmic worldview. It will be a kind of cultural and psychological upheaval that man has not known since the breakup of the Roman Empire and the cosmic worldview that held the Roman world together. We can already begin to see cracks in the paradigm with both domestic and international but always religiously motivated terrorism. The result of this psychological "showdown," "collective man" versus "the religious libido of individual man," and "individual man's" resistance to the change he has invested in the archetypical paradigm will be as real in its consequences as any of the images portrayed of Armageddon.
Using psychological evidence from his practice in psychiatry, drawing heavily on his religious background, and his readings of world history and culture, Edinger, convincingly "deconstructs" and then "re-synthesizes" the meanings of the scriptures -- verse-by-verse - according to his own archetypical typology, leaving us with the suggestion that it will be the consequences of these meanings functioning out of a deeply religious agency -- rather than out of the economic, social and technical vulnerabilities that continue to grow without bounds - that in the final analysis will represent the "showdown" at the end of individual man's psychological patience and existence.
Edinger proves here that Jungian analysis remains heady intellectual stuff despite its heavy dependence on religious interpretations. It is thus theoretical content, with which any serious intellectual must reckon.