Gospels

From Anthroposophy


This page collects some snippets for future further elaboration.

Topic is deeper study of

  • the five gospels
  • the books of Revelation and Genesis (in the context of Evolution)

Illustrations


Lecture coverage and references

Rudolf Steiner's Ten Year program

Rudolf Steiner started with the cycle Christianity as a mystical fact (1902-GA008), and ended ten years later with the cycle on the Gospel of St. Mark (1912-GA139). The Fifth Gospel followed 1913-GA148. Steiner did not cover the gospels or bible any more in the next ten years, and only came back one more and last time with the Book of Revelation and the work of the priest in 1924-GA347.

An important section is given in 1912-09-24-GA139

And now, at the conclusion of our studies on the Mark Gospel I may in a certain respect say that the program laid down at the beginning of the anthroposophical movement in Central Europe insofar as it related to Christianity has in all essentials been completed in every detail.

When we started, our main task was to show how in the course of time religions have developed, culminating in the problem of Christ. We have considered the individual Gospels and various cosmic revelations; we have tried to penetrate ever more deeply into the depths of occult life in order to carry out what we indicated we should do at the beginning. We have tried to work consistently, but in essence all we have done is complete in detail what we said we would do when we started. Was this not the most natural development with respect to the Christ problem within the theosophical movement of Central Europe? In view of all this that has happened, other people who became converts to an impossible conception of Christ within the framework of Christianity can scarcely demand that we who have done this consistent work for years should be converts to their conception of Christ devised three years ago! It has often been emphasized of recent years that the Theosophical Society ought to be hospitable to all opinions. Of course it should be. But the matter appears in a quite different light if it is to be hospitable to the successive different opinions of the same personality, if that personality now maintains something different from what it did four years ago, and now demands that the Theosophical Society should provide a home for this latest opinion. Such a thing may be possible, but there is no need for us to go along with it. Nor should one be considered a heretic if one doesn't take part in such things. In Central Europe people go further still, going so far as to call white black and black white!

This is indeed a solemn moment when we are bringing to an end the latest and final phase of the work we have been carrying on for the last ten years according to plan. So we are determined to stand firm in this work and neither become discouraged nor yet lacking in understanding for others. But we must see very clearly what we have to do, and we must stand firm on our own ground and not allow ourselves to be discouraged by anything, even if white is called black and black white. Even if our anthroposophical Central European movement — in which everyone strives to do his best according to his ability, and everyone is called upon to give his best without submitting to any authority — is said to be full of fanatics and dogmatizers, we should still not be discouraged, not even if those who have their own dogma that is scarcely three years old try to organize an opposition to the dreadful dogma of Central Europe. It is painful to witness the kind of mischievous tricks that are played today in the name of Christ. We are justified in using words like these, and regard them as nothing more than a technical term, used objectively. We are doing nothing more than stating the actual fact, without emotion and without criticism. If we are obliged to put it this way it is the fault of the objective fact itself.

But these facts, when they are set against what can flow to us from a real understanding of the Gospel of St. Mark, can also lead to no other course than to continue to work in the way we have recognized as the right one. This has proved itself in our general program based on positive facts, and continues to prove itself again every day as long as we apply it to individual problems and individual facts.

And as we make our way step by step through the details of the things we have to investigate, what was said at the beginning is invariably confirmed. So even when we are studying the loftiest things we can harbor no other feeling than a true and genuine feeling for truth. Such things as the contemplation of the Mystery of Golgotha have within them already the necessary healing power that dispels error if we approach them in the spirit. Then we are led to recognize how in essence it is only an insufficient will to pursue the truth that prevents us from truly pursuing the path that opens out from the earthly into the cosmic, when the cosmic Christ within Jesus of Nazareth is investigated. But He appears to us so clearly if we understand a work like the Mark Gospel.

For this reason such works, after they have been opened up to the understanding of men by means of spiritual scientific studies, will gradually also reach out to the rest of mankind, and will be ever more clearly understood. And attention will be focused ever more on the words of the Gospels rediscovered without the aid of sense perception through clairvoyant vision of the Mystery of Golgotha.

Those who wrote the Gospels from clairvoyant observation described the physical events afterward. This must be understood, as also the necessity for it.

  • Those people who lived at the same time as the events in Palestine were incapable of understanding what happened at that time because it was only through the impulse given by this event that it could be understood!
  • Before the event had taken place no one was alive who could have understood it. It had first to take effect, so it could be understood only after the event. The key to the understanding of this Mystery of Golgotha is the Mystery of Golgotha itself! Christ had first to do all that He had to do up to the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, and only through the effects of what He did could the understanding of Himself come forth. Then through what He was, the Word could be enkindled which is at the same time the expression of His true being.

And so through what Christ was, the primal Word is enkindled which is communicated to us and can be recognized again in clairvoyant vision, this Word which also proclaims the true being of the Mystery of Golgotha. We may also think of this Word when we speak of Christ's own words, not only those that He spoke Himself but those which He also kindled in the souls of those able to understand Him, so that they could both understand and describe His being from within their human souls.

1910-02-02-GA116

The Gospel of St. Matthew contains many other secrets, as indeed do all the Gospels. Although in the course of this Winter we shall open up a few aspects and perspective glimpses into the Gospels, these can at the most only stimulate the understanding. For in order to understand the Gospels completely a never-ending spiritual work is necessary.

Positioning of the four Gospels

1909-07-06-GA112

This is not merely the cosmology of spiritual science. It is what we need in order to fathom the full depth of St. John's Gospel. Its writer, having described therein the sublimest truths, could say:

‘In this Gospel are contained truths from which mankind will obtain nourishment for all time to come. Inasmuch as man gradually learns to understand and practise these truths, he will acquire new wisdom and ascend by a new way into the spiritual worlds.’

But this will take place only in the course of time and by degrees. Therefore the united leaders of Christian evolution were obliged to provide for the appearance of ancillary books, side by side with the Gospel of St. John; books which were not intended (like the Gospel of St. John) for the foremost in good will and understanding. In fact, ancillary books had to be provided for the immediate future.

In the first place a book was given to the world, from which the generations of the first centuries of Christian evolution could learn, in a manner suited to their intellect, the highest truth they required for the understanding of the Christ-event. To be sure, in proportion to the whole of mankind, the number of those who understood what this book could give them, was but small. This first ancillary book was not intended for the highest select, but indeed for the select; this was the Gospel of St. Mark. This Gospel was composed in a manner especially adapted for a certain understanding peculiar to those times.

Then followed a time in which the Gospel of St. Mark began to be less understood; human understanding tended to grasp the whole force of Christ in its inner value for the human soul, and to regard the outer physical world with a certain contempt. A time came in which man was eminently disposed to utter such words as: ‘Worthless are all temporal goods; true riches are nowhere found save in man's evolved inner self.’ This was the time in which John Tauler wrote his book Of the Poor Life of Christ (Von armen Leben Christi). It was a time in which the Gospel of St. Luke was best understood. Luke, a disciple of St. Paul, was one of those who lent Paul's own Gospel a form suited to that epoch, giving prominence to the ‘poor life’ of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born in a stable and surrounded by poor shepherds. We recognize John Tauler's Poor Life of Christ in the narration of the Gospel of St. Luke, the second of the books given for the furtherance of the evolution of mankind. In our time there will be some who can best learn from the Gospel of St. Matthew what is suited to their understanding and adapted to the needs of the present day. Even though Matthew's name be not singled out, people will select to an increasing extent what is most in conformity with St. Matthew's Gospel.

There will be a growing tendency to show that nothing can be understood of the events which were enacted in the higher worlds at the Baptism of John, as we have narrated them. Many will experience this in the future. We are approaching a time in which he who, in the 30th year of his life, received into himself the Christ, will be to an increasing extent regarded, even by the professors of religion, as the ‘simple man of Nazareth’. ...

But the Gospel of St. Matthew was originally written in a community in which the chief place was given, not to Christ, but to that individuality who appeared to the world in the person of the Initiate Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel of St. Matthew was founded on a traditional document of initiation known to the Ebionite Gnostics, and can be traced back to such a document as to its model. There, special importance is attached to the initiate Jesus of Nazareth, and all the rest becomes much clearer by the fact that it is contained in the Ebionite Gospel


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