Saturday, April 16, 2011
The Mission of Abraham and Hebraic History: From Zarathustra to Jesus
Rudolf Steiner, December 7, 1909:
Out of the whole spirit of our anthroposophical work you will have seen, in the course of years, that its aim is not to work on, as it were, something directly sensational, but to follow tranquilly those facts connected with spiritual happenings, the knowledge and cognition of which can be important for our life. One does not merely serve the day, spiritually, by always speaking on what concerns the day, but one also serves it by assimilating a knowledge of the great connections of life. Our own individual life is fundamentally connected with the great events of existence, and we can only rightly judge our own life when we estimate it by the greatest phenomena of life. Hence it arises that within our seven-yearly cycle in the German Section of the Theosophical Society, for four years we have occupied ourselves with the foundation of our views, of our knowledge, and in the last three years we have tried to deepen these basic views with reference to world-embracing questions. And you will have seen from what has come to you in the explanations given in various lecture-cycles that considerations concerning the Gospels belonged to the latter. Not merely because the material and content of the Gospels should be brought close to us, but because through their study many things touching human nature can be learnt. And so today something can be said about the Gospels, with various applications to the personal life of man.
These Gospels are regarded less and less by external science as a historical document for the knowledge of the greatest Individuality, of the greatest Impulse, which has entered the evolution of humanity — of Christ Jesus. The attitude to the Gospels in the first Christian centuries, and for a long time through the Middle Ages, was quite different from what it has become in recent times. The Gospels are first felt today as four mutually contradictory documents, and nothing appears more natural today than to say: How can four documents be historical, when they contradict each other, as the four Gospels do, each of which professes to give us an account of what happened at the beginning of our era in Palestine.
Yet one thing could strike human thinking, unless it tries today to avoid seeing the most important matters. For example, it might be said: It does not really need very much today to realize that if the four Gospels are read consecutively they do indeed contradict themselves in that sense as one understands it today. Any child could see that, one might retort! But it might be added: Now the Gospels are in all hands, now everybody occupies himself with them. But there was a time before the invention of printing, before the modern spread of books, when these Gospels were by no means in all hands, when they were really read only by very few, and these few were just the people who stood at the peak of the spiritual life. Fundamentally, in the first centuries only those had the Gospels in their hands who stood at the summit of the spiritual life. The content was imparted to the others, brought near so that they could grasp it. One might ask: Were then these few, who stood at the summit of the spiritual life, really such terrible fools, such mightily stupid people, that they could not see what any child can see today: that they do contradict each other, in the ordinary sense? Were then all those people who endeavored to grasp the gigantic Christ Event in the sense of the four Gospels really such fools, such terribly stupid men, that they did not see what the critic sees, working in the modern sense with these contradictions? This is a question for oneself.
If we pursue such a question, we soon notice something else: i.e., that the whole world of man's feeling towards the Gospels stood differently to them than it does today. Today it is the critical intellect, which has learnt its whole training, its whole manner of thought, at the hand of external sense-reality, it is this which attacks the Gospels, and for this it is truly not difficult to find these intellectual contradictions; for they are childishly easy to find.
How, then, did those who stood at the summit of the spiritual life and centuries ago took the Gospels in hand get on with what one today calls contradictions? You see, these men of old had an infinite reverence, unthinkable today, for the great Christ Event through the four Gospels, and they felt extraordinarily that because they had four Gospels, they had all the more to revere and value this event. How is that possible? That was because these old judges of the Gospels kept in mind something quite different from what is kept in mind today. The modern critics do not proceed more cleverly than one who, perhaps, photographs a nosegay from one side — he thus gets a certain photograph of the nosegay. He now goes through the world with this photograph. People notice what the photograph looks like, and say: Now I have an exact idea of the nosegay. But then someone comes who photographs it from another side. The picture is quite different. He shows the picture of the same nosegay to people, but they say: That can't be a picture of the nosegay. The pictures contradict each other. And if the nosegay is photographed from four sides, then the four pictures do not appear similar, yet they are four views of the same thing. This was how the old judges of the four Gospels felt. They said: the four Gospels are representations of one event from four different points of view, and because this is the case, they give us thereby a complete picture, because they are not alike — and when we are in a position to form a complete representation from the four sides, we then get a complete idea of the events of Palestine. And so these people said: We must look up with all the greater humility, when we see the events of Palestine presented from four sides. For this event is so great, that one cannot understand it if it is only described from one side. We must be thankful that we have four Gospels, which describe this great event from four sides. We must only understand how these four different points of view have come together, and then, when we have convinced ourselves of this, can we form a perception of what the individual person can have from the four Gospels.
That which we call the Christ Event is a mighty happening in the spiritual evolution of mankind. How can we insert what took place then in Palestine in the whole of human evolution? We can regard it in such a way that we say: Everything, all that mankind previously experienced spiritually, which humanity had gone through spiritually, all that flowed together, streamed together, into the event of Palestine, in order from then to flow on further in one common stream.
There we have — just to mention but one thing — let us say, the old Hebrew teaching, as is laid down in the Old Testament, if we understand it aright. That is one contribution. It flowed in as the event of Palestine took place.
There was then another stream, which proceeded from Zarathustra. This flowed into that which from then streamed on through the world as Christianity as a main stream.
There is that which we can call the Oriental spiritual stream, which found its most significant expression in Gautama Buddha. That also flowed into the one great main stream; and still others, in order then to flow on together. All of these single streams are today within Christianity.
You are not shown what Buddhism is today by one who warms up again the teachings which Buddha gave out 600 years before our era. These teachings have flowed into Christianity. You are not shown what Zarathustrianism really is by one who takes the old Persian documents, and from thence will show the nature of Zarathustrianism today; for he who taught in ancient Persia what exists in the ancient Persian documents has evolved further, and has let his contribution flow into the spiritual life of mankind, and we must seek Zarathustrianism also within Christianity, as well as Buddhism, and the old Hebrew stream.
And now we must ask ourselves, in order to have, in a slight degree, a picture of the real relationship: How have these three streams of Buddhism, Zarathustrianism, and ancient Hebrewism flowed into Christianity?
If we will understand how Zarathustrianism flowed in, then we should call to mind something which has often been mentioned here: that that individuality whom we mention as Zarathustra,was the great teacher of the second post-Atlantean epoch, and first taught the so-called ancient Persian people, and then incarnated again and again. After he ascended higher and higher through each incarnation, he appeared about 600 years before our era as a contemporary of the great Buddha. He appeared in the secret schools of the old Chaldean-Babylonian sphere of culture. This Zarathustra was incarnated there, he was the teacher there of Pythagoras, who went to Chaldea, in order to perfect himself in the right manner. Then this Zarathustra, who at that time 600 years before our era appeared under the name of Zarathas or Nazarathos, was born again at the beginning of our era, reborn so that he appeared in a body which sprang from the parental pair called Joseph and Mary, mentioned and described in the Matthew Gospel. We designate this child of Joseph and Mary, of the so-called Bethlehem parents, as one of the two Jesus children who were then born at the beginning of our era. Zarathustra incarnated in him. Therewith we have implanted in that old Palestine the individuality who was the bearer of Zarathustrianism, the one significant spiritual stream.
But not only this spiritual stream has to live again, in order to be able to stream into Christianity in a new form, but other spiritual streams also. Many different things had to come together and combine for this. For instance, it had to happen also that Zarathustra was born in a body, which as a body, through its physical organization, made it possible for Zarathustra in that incarnation at the beginning of our era to develop those faculties which he possessed, through having ascended so high from incarnation to incarnation. For we must permit ourselves to say: If such a high individuality descended and found an unsuitable body (which could happen through his being unable to find a suitable body), then he would not be able to express the faculties which he possessed in soul and spirit, because the instruments were not there, in order to express on Earth the corresponding powers. One must have a definitely formed brain, if one will express such powers as Zarathustra possessed. That means, one must be born in a body, which, as a body inherited from forefathers, has those qualities which render it a suitable instrument for the faculties which come over from an earlier incarnation. And so, in the case of that Jesus child described in the Matthew Gospel, care had to be taken that he did not merely have inwardly, in that which reincarnated such a high psychic-spiritual organization, that he could exercise that mighty effect which had to be exercised, but that also, this soul could be born in a perfect physical organization, which was inherited. Zarathustra had to find forthcoming this suitable physical brain.
What was thus worked out as a perfectly adapted physical organization was now the contribution which the ancient Hebrew people had to make to Christianity. A suitable physical body had to be created out of it with the utmost conceivable perfect physical instruments. A suitable body had to be created through purely physical heredity for him who incarnated here. Preparation had to be made for this throughout all the generations lying far back, so that the right qualities could be passed on to that body which was born at the beginning of our era. To transmit the right body was again the mission of the ancient Hebrew life.
Now we will form for ourselves an idea of how this life flowed into the great main stream of our present spiritual life. That means, just as we have seen the mission of Zarathustra within Christianity, so we will now seek the mission of the ancient Hebrew people for the entire civilization of our Earth.
Here it must be said that the more spiritual science progresses the more it sees in the Bible, compared with what we have today as external history. What is unearthed in the latter really appears childish compared with what stands in the Bible, only one must read it rightly to understand it. This is really the more correct, to the eyes of true spiritual investigation. And so, among other things, it is correct that in a certain connection, that which was the later Judaism arose from a tribal father, from the father Abraham or Abram. Something absolutely correct lies behind that: if we go back along the generations, we come to a tribal father, to whom quite special powers are imparted from out of the spiritual world itself. And in the sense of spiritual science we can speak of a tribal father of the Jewish people, of Abraham or Abram. Quite special powers were imparted to him from out of the spiritual world. What were these? If we want to understand what special faculties were imparted to him, then we must call to mind a little the various things we have already said here.
We have said: If we go back to earlier times, we find that human beings had other powers of soul, which we can designate as a kind of dim clairvoyance compared with those of today. They could not look out into the world in such a self-conscious intellectual way as modern human beings, but they still had the faculty to see the spirit which exists in the outer world — spiritual phenomena, facts, and beings; even if this seeing, because it occurred in a dimmed consciousness, was more like a living dream, yet it had a living connection with reality. This old clairvoyance had to become weaker and weaker, so that man could educate himself to our present modern perception and intellectual culture.
The whole evolution of mankind is a kind of education of humanity. The various faculties are gradually acquired. Our present way of seeing, without our perceiving, for instance the astral body winding round a flower, when we behold it in ordinary consciousness — whereas the ancient observer saw the flower and the astral body around it — this modern perception, which beholds objects with the sharp contours of the intellect, had to be trained in man, through the disappearance of the old clairvoyance. But one definite law prevails in spiritual evolution. Everything which man acquires must take its starting point from one individuality. Faculties which are to become common to a large number of people must, as it were, first begin in one. Those faculties which relate especially to a combination turned away from clairvoyance, to the judging of the world according to measure, number, and weight, these faculties which tend especially not to see into the spiritual world but to combine sensible phenomena, were first implanted from out of the spiritual world in that individuality who is designated as Abraham or Abram. He was chosen first to develop especially those powers which are bound in the most eminent degree to the instrument of the physical brain. Abraham or Abram is not for nothing called the discoverer of arithmetic, that means, that faculty which judges and combines the world according to measure and number. He was, as it were, the first of those in whose soul-powers the old dreamy clairvoyance was extinguished, and whose brain was so prepared as a perfect instrument, that just that faculty which makes use of the brain comes most to the fore.
And so in Abraham or Abram there was a man in whom the physical brain was so developed that it was applied most of all to external perception on the physical plane, whereas all human beings earlier made less use of the physical brain, while they saw clairvoyantly in the outer world the spiritual world, without always using the physical brain. That was a significant, mighty mission which was especially allocated to Abraham.
And now this faculty, which was laid as a seed from out the spiritual world in Abraham, like any other seed had to develop more and more. You can easily conceive that whatever appears in the world must develop. Similarly this power of considering the world through the physical brain had gradually to develop from the seed. The evolution of this faculty now occurred through the succeeding generations, while that which was given to Abraham was carried over to the succeeding generations through the times which followed. But something else had to happen than formerly when the mission of older people was carried over to the younger. For the other missions were not yet bound to a physical body; the greatest missions especially were not bound to a physical brain. Let us take Zarathustra. What he gave to his disciples was a higher clairvoyant vision than other people had. That was not bound to a physical instrument; that was carried over from teacher to pupil; the pupil again became teacher, carried it over to his pupils, and so on. Now it was not a question of a teaching, of a method of clairvoyant perception, but of something bound to the instrument of the physical brain. Something of this nature can only be implanted into later times by being inherited physically. Therefore, what was given to Abraham as mission was bound up with its being inherited physically from one generation to the other. That means, this perfect organization of the physical brain must be inherited from Abraham by his descendants from generation to generation. Because his mission consisted in the physical brain becoming more and more perfect, this had to happen from generation to generation.
Thus the mission of Abraham was something bound up with procreation, in order to become ever more perfect in the course of physical evolution. But now something else was united with this contribution which the old Hebraic people had to perform. This we will understand if we consider the following.
If we take the other people in other civilizations, with their old dim clairvoyance, then we must say: How did they receive that which was most important, which they venerated most of all in the world? They received it in such a way that it shone as Inspiration in their inner being, shone entirely inwardly. One did not have to investigate so far afield as today. Today man acquires his science by investigation outwardly, by experimenting, he derives his laws by combining external facts. The ancients did not experience what they sought to know in this way, for it shone in them as inspiration. They received it in the inward being. The soul had to give birth to it inwardly. They had to turn the gaze away from the outer world if they let the highest truths arise as inspirations. This had now become different in people who derived their mission from Abraham or Abram. Abraham had to bring to men just that which can be won through observation outwardly, and through combination. If then a member of other civilizations, which were built on the old clairvoyance, looked up to the highest, then he said to himself: I am thankful to the God Who reveals Himself to me within. I turn my gaze away from outside, and the God becomes present to me in the spirit, if, without looking outwards, I let the inspirations of the Divinity shine within. That people which arose from Abraham, however, had to say: I will renounce the inspirations which merely come from within. I will prepare myself to turn my gaze to the world around. I will observe what reveals itself in the air, and water, in mountain and plain, in the starry world: there will I send my gaze, and then I will be able to ponder how one thing stands by another. I will combine the things outside with each other, and will see how I can win an all-embracing thought. And when I comprise what I see in the outer world with an all-embracing thought, bringing it into one single thought, then I will name that which the outer world says to me Jahve, or Jehova. I will receive the highest through a revelation from outside, through a revelation which speaks through the outer world. That was the mission of the Abrahamitic people: to give mankind that which came as revelation from outside, in contrast to that which the other peoples had to give. Therefore this instrument of the spiritual life had to be inherited so that it corresponded in its formations to the revelations from outside, just as earlier the inner soul-powers had to correspond to the revelations from within.
Now let us ask ourselves: What happened there, when the old clairvoyants gave themselves to the revelations from within? Then they turned their gaze from outside, for what revealed itself in the external world could say nothing to them about the spiritual world. They even turned their gaze from Sun and stars, for they listened solely to what was within, and then the great inspirations about the secrets of the world revealed themselves. Then the perceptions appeared concerning the structure of the world. And that which they knew about the stars and their movements, about the laws of the starry world, about the spiritual worlds, was not acquired by them through external observation, these members of the ancient civilizations. They knew something of Mars, Saturn, etc., because the nature of these stars revealed itself in their inner being. Thus it was the laws of the entire cosmos, which as it were were inscribed in the stars, were at the same time inscribed in the souls of these people. They revealed themselves there through inspiration. As the laws of the world which dominate the hosts of the stars revealed themselves in the soul, so now the external laws which rule the world should reveal themselves through external combination to the Abrahamitic people, which now should be won through external observation. For this, heredity had to be so guided that thereby the brain got those qualities through which it could see the right combinations there outside. That wonderful conformity to law was implanted in the seeds which were transmitted to Abraham, which could so develop through the generations that their development corresponded with the great world-laws. The brain had to be inherited so that its inner powers, its configuration, developed like the laws of number of the stars, out there in the cosmos. Therefore, it was said by Jahve to Abraham: Thou wilt see generations arise from thee, which in their ordering are arranged as the number of stars in the heavens. As the stars in the sky are arranged in harmonious relationships of number, so should the generations also be arranged in harmonious relationships of number. That means these generations should carry laws in themselves, like the starry laws in the heavens, There we have twelve constellations. An image of this had to appear in the twelve tribes, as they arose from Abraham, so that the corresponding faculties, which were implanted as seed in Abraham, could be led down through the generations. And so, in the whole organic structure of this people developing from age to age, an image was created of the number and measure in the heavens. A translation of the Bible has rendered this by saying: Thy descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in heaven.... Whereas in truth, the passage should run: Thy descendants shall be arranged regularly in the blood relationship, so that their arrangement is an image of the laws of the stars in the heavens. Oh, the Bible is deep! But what is today offered as the Bible is colored by the modern view of the world. There it runs, “Thy descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in the sky,” whereas in truth it is said: Everything shall be so regular in thy descendants that, for example, twelve tribes result, which correspond to the number twelve in the constellations of heaven.
And so the individual characteristics had to appear that all the time there came to expression the mission of the Abrahamitic people: I get as a gift from outside — not as something which shines in my innermost — that which forms my mission. There is given to me from outside that which I have to bring to the world. That is wonderfully expressed in the Bible, that the mission of Abraham is something given to him from outside, in contrast to the old revelations which were given from within. What had the mission of Abraham to be? The mission of Abraham had to be this: to provide the blood, and what flows through the blood, to Christ Jesus. That is the mission of Abraham. The entire spirituality of a certain stream had to be permuted in this. That had to work as if it came from outside, a gift from outside. Abraham had to give to the world the old Hebrew people. That is his mission. If that is to correspond to the whole nature of his mission, then this people itself, which is his mission, this people itself must be a gift from outside, must be given by him as a gift. Abraham had a son — Isaac — whom he had to sacrifice, as related in the Bible. And as he came to sacrifice him, this son was given anew to him by Jahve. What is thus given him? From Isaac originate the entire people. If Isaac had been sacrificed, there would have been no Hebrew people. The whole people were thus given him as a gift. In the sacrifice of Isaac is this character of gift wonderfully expressed. The people itself is the mission of Abraham; and with Isaac, he receives the entire Hebrew people from Jahve as a gift.
The presentations in the Bible are thus deep, and all correspond in detail to the inner character in the progressive evolution of humanity. This old Hebrew people had to give up bit by bit the old clairvoyance, which the other civilizations comprised within themselves. This old clairvoyance was bound to faculties which came out of the spiritual world. One designated these clairvoyant faculties, according to their nature, by expressions derived from the starry constellations. The last faculty which was given up, for the old Hebrew people to be bestowed on Abraham, was the one connected with the starry sign of the Ram. Therefore a ram is sacrificed in place of Isaac. That is the external expression for the sacrifice of the last clairvoyant power so that the old Hebrew people could be bestowed on Abraham. Thus this people was chosen to develop just those powers which depend on the observation of the outer world. But atavistic relics of the earlier appear in all, and so it came about that again and again the old Hebrew people were forced to exclude what did not lie purely in the blood. The carrying over of these faculties directed externally that which still remained of the old clairvoyance. That which came as an inheritance from other peoples had always to be excluded.
We here touch a chapter which is only described with difficulty today, because it contains a truth which lies as far as possible from modern thinking. But it is nevertheless a truth, and one may make the demand that those who have worked a longer time in anthroposophical groups can bear such truths, withdrawn somewhat from modern habits of thought.
We must be clear that for certain human classes in ancient times, they retained older faculties into later ages; especially with reference to knowledge; the old clairvoyant powers were once with them in the soul. Man was more united with spiritual beings; they revealed themselves in him. That expressed itself in certain people, who represented as it were decadent products of this older humanity, that they maintained a lower form of this connection with the spiritual outer world. Whereas the really clairvoyant people were more bound up with the entire universe through spiritual intuition and inspiration, the human beings who were in decadence were lower human types, who in their decadence developed their ancient connection with the surrounding world. They were not independent; the I-ness or Ego-hood, Ego-nature, did not come out in them, but also the old clairvoyant faculties were no longer at their corresponding height. Such human beings constantly appeared, and in them was shown the connection between certain physical human organs and the so-called ancient clairvoyant organs. And now comes that truth which must sound so strange. What one calls the old clairvoyance, this shining of world secrets in the innermost, must come by some path or other into the soul. What shone in man must stream in; that means we have to conceive that “streamings-in” (influxes) occur in people. The ancient human being did not perceive these streams, but when they took place and shone in him, he perceived them as his ancient inspirations. Certain streams thus flowed into man from out of his environment. These were later transformed in him. These streams in ancient times were purely spiritual streams — were, for instance, perceptible to a clairvoyant as pure astral-etheric streams. But later these pure spirit streams dried up, as it were, condensed to etheric-physical streams. And what arose thus? The hair arose in this way. The hair is a result of the ancient streams. The hair today on a human body was formerly spiritual stream in man, coming from outside into his inner being. Our hair is a dried-up astral-etheric stream. And such things are only preserved where — one might say — the old truths have remained, purely externally, in writing, through tradition. Therefore, in Hebrew, the word HAIR and the word LIGHT are designated by approximately the same signs, because one had a consciousness of the relationship between the astral in-streaming light and the hair; as, in general, in old Hebraic writings, originally, purely in the words themselves the greatest truths are contained.
Thus one can say: there is a progressive evolution of mankind. With those human beings, however, who retained the old faculties in decadent form, these streamings-in indeed transformed themselves, dried up, as it were, but no new faculties appeared instead. They were in an old way bound with the new, and yet again, not bound, because these streams were dried up. Such people were very hairy, while those who developed further were less hairy, because new powers appeared instead of those which later condensed to hair.
Science will only come again to these significant truths after a long time. In the Bible they stand. The Bible is far more learned than our modern science, still standing at the childish stage guarding its ABCs. Just read the story of Jacob and Esau. Jacob is he who has progressed a stage, who has developed the faculty of the later age; Esau has remained at an earlier stage. It is he who is the simpleton, as it were, compared with Jacob. As the sons are presented to Isaac, the mother has covered Jacob with false hair, so that Isaac confuses the younger son with Esau. We should thereby be shown that the old Hebrew people still had something in them as an inheritance from other civilizations which had to be stripped off. Esau is thrust out; through Jacob is implanted what should live on as external combination.
And just as that which had been retained in a form remaining behind was thrust out in Esau, so were the old clairvoyant powers, which came to expression as an atavistic remnant in what Joseph represents, thrust out by his brothers, towards Egypt. He had dreams, and could interpret the world through them; that is the faculty which should not develop in the mission of the Abrahamitic people. Therefore he is thrust out, and must go to Egypt.
So we thus see how a stream is worked out in the old Hebrew people which is built on blood relationship through the generations, and out of which by stages that which remains over as relics is expelled. The old Hebrew people have this as their own peculiar tendency, to make that which is inherited down through the generations into an ever more and more perfect instrument, so that when the whole generations have run their course, that body can be evolved from it which can furnish the instrument for him who is to be incarnated. If the old Hebrew people could not receive revelations from within, they must receive them from outside. Even that which the other peoples received through direct inspiration,had to be received by the old Hebrew people through an external revelation. That means the Jews had to go over to another people — led by Joseph — who had the old inspirations. And while Joseph was initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries, they attained through external means what they needed to know about the characteristics of the spiritual worlds. They even received the moral law from outside, not as something which shone to them from within. That was the mission of the old Hebrew people. Then, after they had assimilated what they had to absorb from outside, they withdrew with an externally acquired revelation — they returned back again to their Palestine.
And now, after this old Hebrew people had undergone all this, there should be shown how it gradually developed from generation to generation, so that finally the body which became the body of Jesus could be born from this people, whereby the old Hebrew stream flowed into Christianity.
Remember how we have discussed the development of tendencies in the case of single human beings. The life of the individual falls into periods of seven years. The first period extends from birth until the change of teeth, at the age of seven, and in this the physical body simply builds its forms. Then we have the second seven-yearly period to the age of puberty, in which the etheric body is active in the growth of form, in enlarging the forms. The forms are made definite till the age of seven, then the already definite forms merely enlarge, letting those tendencies prevail in them. From 14 to 21 the astral body is especially predominant. And so we see in the twenty-first year the real “I” of man is first born, and becomes independent. Thus the life of the individual runs its course in certain periods, till the birth of the human “I” or Ego. Similarly, those germs or aptitudes must gradually develop in that people which as people had to provide a body for a most perfect Ego or “I.” In this case, what appears in man in the course of years, so develops here that it appears in the course of generations. A following generation must have developed other tendencies than a previous generation. Everything cannot develop all at once merely in one generation. To explain why this is so from occult bases would lead too far, but one can call to mind a quite ordinary phenomenon. Just remember that in heredity, certain qualities are not immediately inherited, but leap over one generation and it is the grandson who appears similar to the grandfather in inherited qualities. Thus it is in the inheritance of qualities in the successive generations of the Hebrew people. One generation had always to be leaped over. And so what corresponds in the single individual to one period of age corresponds in the successive generations to two. We can therefore say: This people, like a great individual, must so develop from generation to generation that what occurs in the case of the individual from birth to change of teeth here requires 2 x 7 = 14 generations. Then a second period comes, again comprising 2 x 7 generations. This corresponds to the period between the change of teeth and puberty. Then a third period, again comprising 2 x 7 generations, corresponding to the age between 14 and 21, where the astral body is especially prominent. Then the “I” or Ego can be born. The “I” or Ego could be born in the Hebrew people after 3 (2 x 7) = 3 x 14 generations had elapsed. He who wanted to describe to us the body which was given as an instrument to Zarathustra had to show how, through 3 (2 x 7) generations, the seed which was given to Abraham developed, so that after 3 x 14 generations the “I” could be born, just as in the individual, the “I” could be born in its threefold corporality after 3 x 7 years. The writer of the Matthew Gospel does this. He describes 3 x 14 generations, the generations from Abraham to David, those from David to the Babylonian Captivity, and those from the Babylonian Captivity to the birth of Jesus.
Thus from the depths of knowledge, out of the Matthew Gospel, we have pointed to the mission of the old Hebrew people, how gradually the forces were developed which made it possible for the most perfect Ego or “I,” which Zarathustra had attained, to be born in a body from this people.
And if we now see what the destinies were of this old Hebrew people, we find that the Captivity appeared to the entire people where, in the individual after the fourteenth year, preparation takes place for individual life, where that springs up which can be accomplished in life, and what man absorbs between the ages 14 and 21; the hopes of youth; that the Captivity was the time when, as it were, the astral body of the old Hebrew people came into consideration, where that was implanted through the last fourteen generations, which gives it its impulse. Therefore the old Hebrew people are led into the Babylonian Captivity — there, where, 600 years before our era, Zarathas or Nazarathos was then in his incarnation, at that time the teacher in the secret schools of the Babylonians. Those who were the most prominent leaders of the old Hebrew people then came into contact with the great teacher of ancient times, with Zarathas. He there became their teacher, united himself with them; they took up there the great impulse which so worked that in the last fourteen generations this people were prepared for the birth of Jesus.
Events then went on further, as you know. And then we see something noteworthy. We see a law observed in the spiritual sphere by the writer of the Matthew Gospel, which will be recognized more and more as a law significant for all life. This is the law, that whatever has happened earlier is repeated at a higher stage. Modern science has it already in a somewhat distorted form when it declares that what has been undergone at a lower stage throughout long epochs is repeated shortly in each single being. The writer of the Matthew Gospel shows us this in a magnificent way. He shows it by saying: The Ego of Zarathustra had to incarnate in a body which was gradually developed within the Abrahamitic people. Abraham proceeded from Ur in Chaldea, from the place where Babylonian civilization started, and took his path through Asia Minor towards Palestine. His descendants were led further south through the dreams of Joseph, towards Egypt, and after they had here received the Egyptian Impulse, returned to Canaan. That is the fate of the entire people. First, the whole people are led through Canaan, towards Egypt, and then back again to Canaan. What thus transpired as the fate of a people had now shortly to be repeated. There, where the Ego is born for whom the vehicle had been thus prepared, after all had been developed that was laid down in Abraham, there this Ego again takes its starting point from Chaldea. In Chaldea, Zarathustra was the secret teacher in his last incarnation; his spirit was united with Chaldea. What path does the soul of Zarathustra take, when it will incarnate in Bethlehem? Zarathustra had remained united with those who had been initiated in the Chaldean secret schools, with the Magi. They called well to mind how they had heard from their teacher that he would reappear, that this soul who from the beginning was designated as Zarathustra — the golden star — would take his path at a definite point of time towards Bethlehem. And as the time came, they followed the path which this soul took, repeating the path of the old Hebrew people. As Abraham followed the path to Canaan, so that star took this path to Canaan: that means, the soul of Zarathustra; and the three Magi followed the star Zarathustra, and he led them to that place where he was born in that body destined for him from out the Abrahamitic people. Thus Zarathustra, the Ego of Zarathustra, was led along that path — repeating in spirit — which Abraham had traversed to Palestine. Then the old Hebrew people had had to seek the path to Egypt. It had been led over through the dreams of the elder Joseph. And now, that Ego which was born in the Bethlehemitic Jesus was led through the dreams — again of a Joseph — led to Egypt, the same path which the Abrahamitic people had pursued through the dreams of the elder Joseph. This Ego of Zarathustra, repeating in Spirit, undergoes the whole destiny of the old Hebrew people in the body of Jesus. He goes to Egypt, and then again back to Palestine. Here we have the repetition in spirit which is undergone by the soul of the Ego of Zarathustra. And that is an image of the fate of the old Hebrew people.
In the Matthew Gospel, out of the knowledge of the law, we have that faithfully described, that what appears at a higher stage is a repetition in short of what was there earlier. Oh, how deeply these gospels describe the event that stands at the beginning of our era, that is so mighty, that four writers have said: Each one of us can only describe from his standpoint this great event. Each of these four has described the one event according to his own limited power. As when we picture a being from four sides, we retain but one picture, and through the combination of mutually contradictory pictures know the total being, so has the writer of the Matthew Gospel described what he knew about the law of 3 (2 x 7), about the preparation of the body for the great Ego of Jesus through the mission of the old Hebrew people, according to these secrets, of which he was conscious just through his initiation. The writer of the Luke Gospel has described according to the initiation of which he was conscious, whereby he presented how in another way the Buddha stream flowed into Christianity, in order to flow on further into it. And the other gospel writers have described from out of the presuppositions of other initiations. The event they describe is so great that we must be thankful when we find it described from four sides, from the aspects of four initiations.
Today we have only been able to indicate the inflow of the Zarathustra stream, and the contribution of the old Hebrew people. Next time we will discuss something else, which has been transmitted as a contribution in order to stream further into Christianity at a newly arisen stage. Only some details were mentioned today from the spirit of the origin of Christianity, to show how our knowledge of the world grows, our knowledge of man grows, if we follow the greatest event in humanity. An idea should be awakened of how deeply this event is to be taken, and how deep the gospels are, when we really understand how to read them.
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