Jordan Peterson’s Biblical Series podcasts are incredible

I would say the Bible exists in that space that is half into the dream and half into articulated knowledge. Going into it, to find out what the stories are about, can aid our self-understanding. The other issue is that, if Nietzsche was correct, and if Jung was correct, and Dostoevsky, as well…Without the cornerstone provided by that understanding, we’re lost. That’s not good, because then we’re susceptible to psychological pathology. People that are adamant anti-religious thinkers seem to believe that, if we abandoned our immersement in the underlying dream, we’d all, instantly, become rationalists, like Descartes or Bacon—intelligent, clear thinking, rational, scientific people. I don’t believe that for a moment. I don’t think there’s any evidence for it. I think we would become so irrational, so rapidly, that the weirdest mysteries of Catholicism would seem positively rational by contrast—and I think that’s already happening.

You have the unknown world. That’s just what you don’t know, at all. That’s outside the ocean that surrounds the island that you inhabit. Something like that. It’s chaos itself. You act in that world, and you act in ways that you don’t understand. There’s more to your actions than you can understand. One of the things that Jung said—I loved this, when I first understood it. He says that everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is. You should know what your myth is, because it might be a tragedy, and maybe you don’t want it to be. That’s really worth thinking about, because you have a pattern of behaviour that characterizes you. God only knows where you got it. It’s partly biological, and it’s partly from your parents; it’s your unconscious assumptions; it’s the way the philosophy of your society has shaped you; and it’s aiming you somewhere. Is it aiming you somewhere you want to go? That’s a good question. That’s part of self-realization.

Jordan Peterson, Biblical Series I: Introduction to the Idea of God

I try to start my day off on the treadmill or, if the weather is pleasant, on a long walk through the marshes along the Intracoastal Waterway.

I love listening to audio books or podcasts while I am walking/running. My general problem with finding good audio books and podcasts, however, has little to do with content, but pacing and narration. For example, I like reading Bill Bryson and Ross Douthat’s books on paper, but I can’t listen to them chatter when I am doing anything active. It’s like trying to exercise to a lullaby.

And then you get into fiction books and every narrator decides to break out their stage voice. Like they are standing in the center of the Globe Theater belting out Hamlet, with melodramatic tones and pregnant pauses mid-sentence. It makes me want to claw my eardrums out. (Incidentally, this is why I cannot watch any movie that features Keira Knightley either.)

Thus I have started searching for audio books and podcasts that are published by tightly-wound people capable of getting your pulse going. Malcolm Gladwell and Jordan Peterson are my favorite tightly-wound people to make the miles pass quickly. Both are highly intelligent, and listening to them share their ideas is a lot like drinking from a fire hydrant. You have to keep up.

The best thing I have listened to lately is Jordan Peterson’s Biblical Series. You can watch these on YouTube, a podcast app, or read the transcripts here. I think both religious and non-religious folks alike will find the series fascinating (though non-religious folks might not like what Peterson ultimately has to say about the psychological effects of turning your back on wisdom traditions).

It’s a sort of psychoanalytic approach to biblical storytelling, and much like Joseph Campbell, Peterson dives into how the Bible makes use of archetypes found in other wisdom traditions as well. I know some people might find that notion offensive, but I assure you he does it with the highest level of respect. To him, these stories are the most significant features of human life.

I’ve always been amused that someone like Peterson is such an admirer of Nietzsche, as Peterson is about finding/creating order amidst chaos, and Nietzsche is, well, all about the chaos. But that admiration is clear in their shared sport of wordplay. The virtue of reading both is you come away with a lot of random connections that you probably never made before. And in their shared appreciation of the brilliance of ancient civilizations.

When [Marduk] fights, he fights this deity called Tiamat. We need to know that, because the word ‘Tiamat’ is associated with the word ‘tehom.’ Tehom is the chaos that God makes order out of at the beginning of time in Genesis, so it’s linked very tightly to this story. Marduk, with his eyes and his capacity to speak magic words, goes out and confronts Tiamat, who’s like this watery sea dragon. It’s a classic Saint George story: go out and wreak havoc on the dragon. He cuts her into pieces, and he makes the world out of her pieces. That’s the world that human beings live in.

The Mesopotamian emperor acted out Marduk. He was allowed to be emperor insofar as he was a good Marduk. That meant that he had eyes all the way around his head, and he could speak magic; he could speak properly. We are starting to understand, at that point, the essence of leadership. Because what’s leadership? It’s the capacity to see what the hell’s in front of your face, and maybe in every direction, and maybe the capacity to use your language properly to transform chaos into order. God only knows how long it took the Mesopotamians to figure that out. The best they could do was dramatize it, but it’s staggeringly brilliant. It’s by no means obvious, and this chaos is a very strange thing. This is a chaos that God wrestled with at the beginning of time.

Slaying of Tiamat from the Enûma Eliš (8th century BCE)

As a parting note, this is my view walking through the gorgeous wetlands in our area. Florida is an Eden of sorts.

2 thoughts on “Jordan Peterson’s Biblical Series podcasts are incredible

  1. Jordan Peterson’s recordings on the Old Testament are so rich. I like him a lot better than Joseph Campbell, who seemed kind of – specious – to me. I guess I think Peterson is genuinely open to spiritual truths he doesn’t yet understand. He is probably the most open-minded media personality I’ve ever heard–in the real sense, not in some PC sense. Your post has reminded me of his series, which I didn’t finish listening to yet.

    Liked by 1 person

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