Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani - EELS

From Anthroposophy

EELS is practical shorthand for Christ Jesus last words from the cross at the Mystery of Golgotha on 3 April 33.

'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!'

This appears in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:43. There is a lot of discussion around the slightly different wordings (transliterations, attempts to make a word sound the same in another language.) in both as they are not literally the same, as well the interpretation of the Aramaic (Mark) Hebrew (Matthew) and Greek.

These words have been << made into >> (see references and discussion below) .. 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?', whereas the words spoken were: 'My Lord, my Lord, how you have glorified me' (the I in humanity), making it spiritual. This phrase has an important meaning from initiation rituals in the ancient Mysteries.

This is one of the 'seven last words or Jesus', the last statements on the cross, including:

  • Luke 23:33-34 -- "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
  • John 19:29-30 -- "It is finished."

Contents

Illustrations

Lecture coverage and references

Below follow statements by Skinner, Blavatsky, Steiner and ‘Abdu’l-Baha' in the period 1875-1907.

As Peter Terry (see references below) points out, James Ralston Skinner pointed out in 1875 that the true meaning was not 'why hast thy forsaken me', but ' how though have glorified me'. In The Secret Doctrine (1888), H.P. Blavatsky quoted Skinner verbatim with the comment

For ten years or more, sat the revisers (?) of the Bible, a most imposing and solemn array of the learned of the land, the greatest Hebrew and Greek scholars of England, purporting to correct the mistakes and blunders, the sins of omission and of commission of their less learned predecessors, the translators of the Bible.

Are we going to be told that none of them saw the glaring difference between the Hebrew words in Psalm xxii., Azabbvtha-ni , and sabachthani in Matthew; that they were not aware of the deliberate falsification?

For “falsification” it was. And if we are asked the reason why the early Church Fathers resorted to it, the answer is plain: Because the Sacramental words belonged in their true rendering to Pagan temple rites.

They were pronounced after the terrible trials of Initiation, and were still fresh in the memory of some of the “Fathers” when the Gospel of Matthew was edited into the Greek language. Because, finally, many of the Hierophants of the Mysteries, and many more of the Initiates were still living in those days, and the sentence rendered in its true words would class Jesus directly with the simple Initiates.

The words “My God, my Sun, thou hast poured thy radiance upon me?” were the final words that concluded the thanksgiving prayer of the Initiate, “the Son and the glorified Elect of the Sun.”

In Egypt we find to this day carvings and paintings that represent the rite. The candidate is between two divine sponsors; one “Osiris-Sun” with the head of a hawk, representing life, the other Mercury - the ibis-headed, psychopompic genius, who guides the Souls after death to their new abode, Hades - standing for the death of the physical body, figuratively. Both are shown pouring the “stream of life,” the water of purification, on the head of the Initiate, the two streams of which, interlacing, form a cross. The better to conceal the truth, this basso-relievo has also been explained as a “Pagan presentment of a Christian truth.”

And similarly Blavatsky commented in The Crucifixion of Man (1888)

The now dogmatically accepted words, so dramatic for being uttered at the crucial hour, are of a later date than generally supposed. Verse 46 in-the xxviith chapter of Matthew stands now distorted by the unscrupulous editors of the Greek texts of the Evangel. Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani—-never meant “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” but meant, indeed, originally, the reverse. They are the Sacramental words used at the final initiation in old Egypt, as elsewhere, during the Mystery of the putting to death of Chrêstos in the mortal body with its animal passions, and the resurrection of the Spiritual Man as an enlightened Christos in a frame now purified (the “second birth” of Paul, the “twice-born” or the Initiates of the Brahmans, etc., etc.). These words were addressed to the Initiate’s “Higher Self,” the Divine Spirit in him (let it be called Christ, Buddha, Chrishna, or by whatever name), at the moment when the rays of the morning Sun poured forth on the entranced body of the candidate and were supposed to recall him to life, or his new rebirth. They were addressed to the Spiritual Sun within, not to a Sun without, and ought to read, had they not been distorted for dogmatic purposes:  “MY GOD, MY GOD, HOW THOU DOST GLORIFY ME!

1904-12-30

In the Sixth Root Race it will be possible for a man to place his body at the disposal of a sublime Being, as did Jesus of Nazareth when Christianity was founded. At the time of the founding of Christianity it was still necessary for an advanced individuality to sacrifice his own ‘ I ’ and send it into the astral realm, in order that the Logos might dwell in the body.

This is an act upon which light is shed by the last words on the Cross. What other meaning could these words contain: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” These words give expression to the mystical fact then consummated.

At the moment of Christ's death, the Divine Being had departed from the body, and it is the body of Jesus of Nazareth that utters these words — a body so highly developed that it could voice the reality. And so these words give expression to an event of untold significance. All this is represented by the myrrh. Myrrh is the symbol of sacrifice, of death, the sacrifice of the earthly in order that the Higher may come to life.

1906-02-03-GA097 Q&A

When pupils woke from their initiation, the words 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!' 66 would be wrested from their lips, they mean 'My God, my God, how you have transfigured me!' These words given in the original text are easily changed to the other version, which is: 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'

1906-12-02-GA097

No one has ever had sight of God. The once-born son who was within the father of the world, he has come to be the leader in this beholding. Every initiation into the mysteries of the spirit pointed to this coming of the Christ. This initiation was given in the yoga sleep, the Orphic sleep, the Hermes sleep. When the initiate woke again in his body, when he was able to hear and speak again, using physical senses, he said the words which in Hebrew were 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!' meaning 'my God, my God, how you have raised me up high!' That was the initiation known in ancient Judaism. The initiate would be in the higher worlds for three days and experience the whole progress of future human evolution, what was to come for him in human evolution. In the perceptions he had during the three days, the future stages for humanity were not as a rule seen in abstract form but every stage was represented by an individual. The initiate would perceive twelve people. They represented the twelve stages of inner development. Powers of soul thus appeared before him in the form of human individuals.

and

It has become possible because with the flowing of Christ's blood the whole of humanity became a communal self. At that time the self flowed from the blood of Jesus' wounds. Only the three bodies remained on the cross and were later given new life by the risen Christ. At the moment when the Christ left the body, the three bodies were so strong that they were themselves able to say the words which the transfigured human being would speak after his initiation: 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!'

1907-04-01-GA096

This Easter feast was the preparation for what then happened on the physical plane. In contemplating Christ's death we learn of death being overcome on the physical plane, and egoistical blood being overcome as the blood flowed from his wounds. We also come to perceive the great prospect that lies ahead as the words are once again heard coming from the cross, out of an awareness of what the future holds:

'The earth will have reached the goal of a great brotherliness, of becoming spiritual, overcoming everything that could drag the human spirit down.'

Those who have gone through this with the Christ will be able to gather around him once they leave earth evolution behind and rise to a higher form of evolution. And perceiving that the perfecting of the earth has been accomplished, Christ Jesus will once again be able to call out words he once called out on the cross: 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!' that is My Lord, my Lord, how you have glorified the I in humanity, making it spiritual.' That is the meaning of these words. There is a later translation which is wrong, taking up the lines from the psalm.114 But the proper translation of the words is the one you have now heard. Those are the words that express the Mystery of Golgotha: 'My God, my God, how greatly you have glorified me, made me spiritual.'

These words reveal to us how the spirit wrests itself free of the body. The Mystery of the Son reveals to us how at that time, the inner visionary eye of the world's redeemer looked ahead to the end of the earth's perfecting and put the great goal of humanity in words, speaking of overcoming all differences and the founding of utter human love.

and

When he woke again in his body and looked at his physical surroundings, a sound would come to his lips that must wrest itself from the soul of its own accord when alter wandering through the world of the spirit for three and a half days the soul found itself back in the physical world again. The soul was then aware that the I had become a citizen of higher worlds, that it had been in those worlds and could now speak to people about its experience in those worlds. Speaking of the world of the spirit from experience, he had become a herald of the spirit in the physical world, a missionary of the spirit. And this comes to expression in the words: 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani which means:  'Oh God, my God, you have indeed glorified me!' These were the words one would have been able to hear from every individual who had been initiated in this way.

Other RSL references are in the document by Peter Terry below. It includes the interesting statement in The Gospel of Matthew, that is, in: 1910-09-12-GA123

As he had done from the beginning, the writer of the Matthew Gospel was bound to give his chief attention to the physical body in the case of Christ Jesus too. ..

.. Let us now picture the writer of the Matthew Gospel turning his gaze to the dying Jesus on the Cross. His gaze had always been directed to the aspect most important to him, to what he had taken as his starting-point. At the Crucifixion the spiritual forsakes the physical body and therewith also the divine forces that had been taken over into it. The writer of the Matthew Gospel directs his gaze to the separation of the inner nature of Christ Jesus from this divine element in His physical constitution.

The words that always rang out in the ancient Mysteries when the spiritual nature of a man emerged from the physical body in order to have vision in the spiritual world, were these: ‘My God, my God, how thou hast glorified me!’

The writer of the Matthew Gospel, with his attention fixed on the physical body, changes these words to: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!’ Thou has gone from me, hast abandoned me (XXVII, 46). — The chief attention of the writer of the Matthew Gospel has been fixed upon this aspect.

The writer of the Mark Gospel describes the coming of the outer forces and powers of the Sun Aura, ho the Sun Aura, the body of the Sun Being, unites with the etheric body. The etheric body was in the same situation as our etheric body is during sleep. As in our own case the outer forces pass out with us when we sleep, so did they at the physical death of Jesus. Hence the same words are found in the Gospel of Mark (XV, 34).

Interesting as well is the statement by Abdu’l-Baha (1844-1921) in 1907:

.. Christ never suffered upon the cross. From the time the crucifixion began His soul was in Heaven and He felt nothing but the Divine Presence. He did not say, speaking in Aramaic: "O God; O God why hast Thou forsaken me?" But this word Sabacthani is similar in sound to another which means glorify, and he actually murmured, "O God! O God! How thou dost glorify me.

Daskalos, in his book on 'The Christ - his life on earth and his teaching', just quotes the Matthew version with the 'forsaken' meaning.

Discussion

It is remarkable that Rudolf Steiner would mention the two conflicting versions. There is one lecture where Steiner discusses the two versions next to eachother as coming from two evangelists.

Hence we have the following situation:

  • Rudolf Steiner states the change to the 'forsaken' version was in Matthew as a consequence of a different focus, but also mostly gives the other 'glorified' version as the true and correct one.
  • Blavatsky on the other hand is quite clear in accusing the church fathers of falsification.
  • Daskalos doesn't even mention the 'glorified' and sticks to the 'forsaken' version by Matthew.

Related pages

References and further reading