Navigating anthroposophical resources

From Anthroposophy

The student of spiritual science has a wealth of resources available, sometimes it takes time to discover or find some orientation in this wide landscape. There are indexes, lexicons, audio versions of the lectures, original typoscripts and unpublished lectures, blackboard drawings, reference search engines, library databases, etc.


Anthroposophical resources center around Rudolf Steiner's contribution consisting of the Gesamtausgabe or Collected Works (green), however in the last century a tremendous addition of secondary literature has extended and enriched this (blue). For this however there is little or no overview. This is why the Free Man Creator project started the SoSoG initiative (Standing on the Shoulders of Giants), to provide a selected overview on secondary literature. Currently only anthro libraries give an extensive overview.

Schema FMC00.040 below gives a navigation aid for the different types of resources available, whereby the different types of information materials are positioned.

In green is Rudolf Steiner's contribution, with The GA/CW at the bottom left. However lectures have not been published always in GA/CW format but often as thematic selections. The two green boxes on the right represent 'access tools', more on those in the next section below.

Secondary anthroposophical literature is shown in blue. Secondary literature is often by theme or topic-based, with the exception of 'study guides' specific to a certain GA volume (eg for Outline Esoteric Science, or the Agriculture course). Good study materials are the study essays, such as eg Maximilian Rebholz' work, or more recently the booklets by Peter Selg.

Indexes and Lexicons

Schema FMC00.039 provides a tabular overview of indexes and lexicons. It is most probably not exhaustive, but still gives an overview of some pioneer work and milestone references. For online links see the Study Tools page

The pioneers were Adolf Arenson, who discussed with Rudolf Steiner in 1918 and published his 'Leitfaden' in 1925, and Carlo Picht. Apparently the turbulence in the anthroposophical society, in Germany, and the world in period from the 1930's until after the second world war, caused a period with few remaining milestones or advances in this area.

We have to wait for the 1950-60s for the second pioneers: Hans Schmidt and Hella Wiesberger, and this also meant the start of the Gesamtausgabe project.

For English reference resources - besides Paul M. Allen's 140 page bibliography in 1956, we have to wait until the 1970s with Craig Haslett and Babbel/Giddens.

E.g. Craig Haslett: Bibliographical reference list of Rudolf Steiners work in English translation: Vol 1 in 1977, Vol 2 in 1979

Probably the most important multi-volume reference work - that was used for decades afterwards - was published by Emil Motteli in the 1980s. Examples of exceptional efforts in the period 1990-2010 were by Christian Karl and Urs Schwendener. The latter are also available online now.

With the advance of technology - computing and internet - things quickly changed as database and full text search enabled new ways of working. These were put online too. In the US, James Stewart's database started in 1982 and went online as early as 1992. n Germany Michael Schmidt (steinerquellen later steinerdatenbank) and Thierry Cassegrain (Uranosarchiv) were pioneers to bring Steiner's work online (also the work that had not been published in the GA), and Wolfgang Peter started his german wiki site in 2004.

Note: the above list goes from index via glossary to 'guidelines for study' (leitfaden).

Regarding the last category, Arenson's classic was added to Schema FMC00.039 because it was the first and very impactful, but there are further comprehensive works, an example being:

  • Herbert Wimbauer: 'Thematischer Leitfaden für das Studium der Anthroposophie' (5 Volumes) (1980-81)

What is next?

The ambition of the initiative GA2025 isto have all of the Gesamtausgabe published by 2025. Hopefully the contribution of Rudolf Steiner will then be fully available.

All materials are (or will become) available digitally with search tools and databases, so students have an overview that never existed before. Please do stand still on this point and appreciate the priviledge.

At the same time two things are missing or do not really exists, but they are being worked:

- an integrated edition of the Collected Works: preferably digital and in english, integrated meaning consolidated contents-wise. Here wiki projects like this site fit in. Another example would be anthrowiki, merged with the contents of lexicons like those by Schwendener and Motelli.

- a comprehensive overview on anthroposophical secondary literature and spiritual scientific literature at large. We are now one century after Rudolf Steiner's foundational contribution, and there is so much more today than in 1925. See for example the SoSoG page. This has to be living, and include and 'connect in' the work being done today.

The Free Man Creator initiative works on both these fronts.


[1] - Study companions for GA volumes

In more recent times, certain people have started to publish study notes or companion guides for certain GA volumes. Here is an overview:

  • 1920-GA312
    • Peter Selg und Péter Barna: Studienkommentare zum medizinischen Werk Rudolf Steiners – „Die Zukunft des medizinischen Lebens“ Band 1: Geisteswissenschaft und Medizin (GA 312). Vorgeschichte, Intention und Komposition. Materialien zum ersten Ärztekurs Rudolf Steiners 1920. (2020)

Note: George O'Neil's group also has study notes for 1910-GA013 and lecture cycles such as 1911-GA131 ('From Jesus to Christ')

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