Christ as Feminine in Julian of Norwich in the Light of the Psychology of C. G. Jung

Helen Marie Busshart, Fordham University


Throughout its history, Christianity has spoken of God in masculine terms. There is a growing need, however, to reexamine divinity, and specifically Christ, in terms that include the feminine. This dissertation studies, in the light of the psychology of C. G. Jung, a major work which interprets Christ as feminine as well as masculine: Revelations of Divine Love, written by the fourteenth-century mystic, Julian of Norwich (1342-1416). Major sources used are the two-volume critical text, A Book of Showings to the Anchoress at Norwich, edited by Edmund Colledge, O.S.A. and James Walsh, S.J. and the translation of the critical text, Julian of Norwich: Showings, edited by the same authors. Jungian sources include The Collected Works of C. G. Jung and studies of the feminine by Erich Neumann, Ann B. Ulanov and M. Esther Harding. The dissertation begins by analyzing those chapters of Julian's text which develop the theme of the motherhood of Christ within the context of the Trinity. With the aid of C. G. Jung's psychology, it proceeds by exploring the nature, properties and functions of the feminine, feminine symbols and archetypes, discovering how they are derived from the Great Mother archetype. The Jesus of Julian of Norwich has aspects of the good Great Mother described by C. G. Jung and the Jungian school. In a systematic fashion, the dissertation identifies the maternal characteristics of this archetype in the Jesus depicted by Julian: unconditional love, protectiveness, patience, mercy and wisdom, and the works of motherhood, such as feeding, sustaining, teaching, leading and renewing. Finally, Jung's treatment of the Christ archetype is compared with Julian's concept of Christ. Jung believed the image of Christ is perfect, but incomplete; for it contains neither evil nor the feminine, poles which are necessary for the integration of their opposites. Jung perceived matter, the feminine and evil as opposites to spirit, the masculine and good. Consequently, he concluded that the image of Jesus is not fully human, but predominantly masculine, divine and otherworldly. The Jesus of Julian of Norwich's experience, similar to Jung's Good Mother archetype, is all good, fully immersed in matter, a male person, but expressive of positive femininity. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Subject Area

Theology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Busshart, Helen Marie, "Christ as Feminine in Julian of Norwich in the Light of the Psychology of C. G. Jung" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8521404.