Joseph Cambell


My brother and sister-in-law told me that after five years of soul searching and reading the works of Joseph Campbell, they no longer believe in God as they used to. They now believe that Jesus was just some guy…that all things are preordained so there is no reason to pray…that there is no heaven or hell.

They tried to explain how they came to these conclusions after watching interviews with Campbell and reading his books, but they had a hard time putting it into words.

Does anyone know anything about this guy?


Joseph Campbell was an expert in world mythology who adopted a lot of ideas of Jung in his analysis of myths. His works make very interesting reading.

Campbell treated the dogmas as Christianity as myths which more or less just reflect man’s state of conciousness towards the Absolute, probably an idea he got from reading about Eastern religions and philosophies, which regard the world of experience as illusory and a veil over the Absolute. For Campbell, myths around the world all try to raise the human mind past the veil of reality into the Absolute itself. To him, all pagan and religious mythologies are equivalent in terms of being able to do this. And also to him, the God of monotheism is a personal symbol for an impersonal Absolute.

Christians can’t really accept that God is impersonal; the Pope pointed out in Deus Caritas Est while we believe in the God of the Philosophers, we also believe in the loving and active God of the Bible. What other religions conceive to be impersonal and changless (i.e. nirvana) is for us an active and living reality. God’s essence or unconditioned being does not change, but God nevertheless still acts in such a way towards us that God is not merely a passive void beyond the symbol but is also an active reality who reaches down and out to us to bring us to salvation. So Campbell’s ideas are not acceptable if they simply see all religions as just symbols for raising the mind to an impersonal Absolute behind appearances. But, they do shed light on the common human quest for God.


**Greg27 . . . well stated, thank you. :thumbsup:

I had studied Joseph Campbell for many years when I was in my
twenties and early thirties. The ‘Joseph Campbell Companion’ would be a good book as an introduction to his writings. I think it was 1989 when he died; at the age of 83. He was one of George Lucas’ advisors in the creation of the Star Wars mythology.

Regarding . . .

“Jesus was just some guy…that all things are preordained so there is no reason to pray…that there is no heaven or hell.”

I too felt that way at one point in my life. If your relatives are the elect of God, at some point in their lives, they will repent, submit to the Will of God, and think differently.**


Well, we were raised in a very cult-like (alright, a cult) church-the World WIde Church of God. Until joining that church, my family was Catholic (prior to my birth). Of my seven brothers and sisters, only one is an active Christian. I am Catholic. I have a brother who is an atheist. And now the new Campbell followers. And they used to have the strongest faith of us all.

It’s very distressing to my sister, mom and me.


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