Values & Visions Magazine

January 5, 2022

John A. Sanford, a Jungian analyst and author of 16 Books, has written an Intriguing and enlightening book called Mystical Christianity: A Psychological Commentary on the Gospel of John published by Crossroad. He astutely calls the fourth gospel “a treasure-house of psychological and spiritual insight.” Sanford brings to the fore neglected and overlooked aspects of early Christianity which speak directly to those engaged in the spiritual craft of soul-making.

For the author of John, Christ was “the divine word made flesh whose presence was felt intimately in the soul.” Sanford suggests at the outset that readers of this Johannine text put themselves in the shoes of the disciples. He presents some unusual slants on Jesus’s actions at the wedding at Cana and the cleansing of the Temple. The first shows the Master’s positive valuation of women in a dominantly patriarchal culture and the latter demonstrates that anger has its place in the repertoire of soulful actions.

In his discussion of the healing stories in the fourth gospel, Sanford shows how faith is that quality of soul which paves the way for healing.  The author salutes the ancient yearning for numinous encounters which bypass reason and connect with our inner center. Sanford frames the clash between Jesus and the Pharisees as a conflict between the old consciousness and the new. His assessments of John’s understanding of evil and the deeper mysteries connected with the coming of the Paraclete have direct relevance to contemporary confusions over human nature and authority.

At one point Sanford quotes Fritz Kunkel who called John’s Gospel “a great spiritual symphony.” The movements and variations in Mystical Christianity will be of great help to those engaged in soul making.

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