Joseph Campbell
Born in

White Plains, NY, The United States

March 26, 1904

Died

October 30, 1987

Gender

male

Books

About Joseph Campbell

Joseph John Campbell was an American mythology professor, writer, and orator best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion.

Quotes by Joseph Campbell

“In the Christian tradition, there is a very decisive problem in distinguishing between the senses of the terms "Jesus" and "Christ." "Jesus" refers to a historical character; "Christ" refers to an eternal principle, the Son of God: the second person of the blessed Trinity, which exists before and after all the ages and is, therefore, notcal. The sense of our tradition is that the historical character Jesus is or was the Incarnation on earth of that second person of the blessed Trinity. Now, the main point that would distinguish our tradition in this respect from (let us say) Hinduism or Buddhism is that we would say that this Incarnation was unique. That has had a special force in our tradition. Yet the main point of the Christian religion is not, certainly, that the Incarnation was unique in the case of Jesus Christ, but rather that this miracle---the eternal principle of Christ's birth, life, and death---should have some effect on the individual human spirit. There is a wonderful line from the German mystic Angelus Silesius: "Of what use, Gabriel, your message to Marie / Unless you can now bring the same message to me?"19 Likewise, the great mystic Meister Eckhart states, "It is of more worth to God that Christ should be born in the virgin soul than that Jesus should have been born in Bethlehem."20 This point is tremendously important. Many of the images---which in our religion are dogmatically affirmed as having had historical reality---are very difficult today to interpret in historical terms. For example, the Assumption of the Virgin or the ascension of Jesus to heaven both lead us to a problem: where is heaven? Somewhere up in the sky? Our contemporary cosmology does not permit us to entertain that thought very seriously. We have a collision between these articles of faith and the historical and physical sciences, which we have to admit are ruling our lives, giving us everything that we live by from day to day. This collision has destroyed people's belief in these symbolic forms; they are rejected as untrue.21 Now, since the primary truth is not the historical but the spiritual reference of these symbols, the fact that historical evidence refuts these myths on the level of objective reality should not relieve us of the symbols. These symbols stem from the psyche; they speak from and to the spirit. And they are in fact the vehicles of communication between the deeper depths of our spiritual life and this relatively thin layer of consciousness by which we govern our daylight existences. Read more...
Joseph Campbell