The Gospel of St. John and Its Relation to the Other Gospels
Lecture 2 of 14
Rudolf Steiner, Kassel, Germany, June 25, 1909:
My Dear Friends:
When a subject such as our present one is discussed from the standpoint of spiritual science, this is not done by basing the facts upon some document or other exposition come into being in the course of human development, and by then illuminating the facts in question on the authority of such a document. That is not the way of spiritual science. On the contrary, entirely independent of all documents, spiritual science investigates what has occurred in human evolution; and only then — after the spiritual scientist has completed his research by means independent of any documents, and knows how to describe what he has found — only then is the document in question examined with a view of discovering whether it agrees with what had first been disclosed without reference to any tradition whatever. So all the statements made in these lectures concerning the course of this or that event are by no means to be taken as merely deriving from the Bible, from one of the four Gospels, but rather as the conclusions arrived at by spiritual research independent of the Gospels. But no opportunity will be missed to show that everything the spiritual scientist can fathom and observe is to be found in the Gospels, particularly in the Gospel of St. John.
We have a curious utterance by the great mystic Jacob Boehme which puzzles all who are not in touch with spiritual science. Jacob Boehme once drew attention to his way of discussing past epochs in human evolution — say, the figure of Adam — as though they had been within the scope of his own experiences, and he said: “Many might ask, Were you then present when Adam walked the earth?” And Jacob Boehme answers unequivocally: “Yes, I was present.” Now, that is a noteworthy statement; for actually, spiritual science is in a position really to observe with the eyes of the spirit whatever has occurred, be it ever so far back; and in these introductory remarks I should like to touch briefly upon the reason for this.
Everything that happens in the physical sensorial world has, of course, its counterpart in the spiritual world. When a hand moves there is present not only what your eye sees as a moving hand, but behind this moving hand, this visible image of the hand, there are, for example, my thought and my will: the hand is to move. In short, a spiritual element underlies it all. But while the visible image, the sense impression of the hand motion, passes, its spiritual counterpart remains inscribed in the spiritual world and always leaves a trace; so if our spiritual eyes are opened we can trace all things that have happened in the world by the imprints left by their spiritual counterparts. Nothing can occur in the world without leaving such traces.
Suppose the spiritual scientist gazes back to Charlemagne, or to the time of Rome, or to Greek Antiquity: everything that took place there has been preserved in the spiritual world as imprints of its spiritual prototypes, and can be seen there. This seeing is called reading the akashic record. There exists this living script which the spiritual eye can see; and when the spiritual scientist describes the events of Palestine or the observation of Zarathustra he is not describing what is found in the Bible or in the Gathas, but what he himself is able to read in the akashic record. Only then does he investigate whether the disclosures of the akashic record are to be found in the documents as well — in our case, the Gospels.
The attitude, therefore, of spiritual research toward documents is wholly unhampered; and for this very reason spiritual research will be the true judge of what documents have to tell. But when we find the same information in the documents as we were able to glean from the akashic record we infer first, that the documents are true, and second, that someone must have written them who was also able to read in the akashic record. Many religious and other documents of the human race are retrieved by spiritual science in this way. — What has just been said shall now be clarified by the study of a special chapter in human evolution, the Gospel of St. John, and its relation to the other Gospels. But you must not imagine that the akashic record, the spiritual history which lies open like a book before the seer's eyes, resembles any script of the ordinary world. It is a living kind of script, and we will try to understand this through what is to follow.
Suppose the seer gazes back in time — say, to the time of Caesar. Caesar did certain deeds, and in so far as they occurred on the physical plane his contemporaries witnessed them. But they all left their traces in the akashic record; and when the seer looks back he sees them as spiritual shadow-pictures or prototypes. — Call to mind again the movement of the hand: as a seer you do not perceive the picture this presents to the eye, but you will always see the intention to move the hand, the invisible forces that move it. In the same way is to be seen everything that went on in Caesar's thoughts, be it certain steps he intended to take or some battle he planned. Everything seen by his contemporaries originated in the impulses of his will and was executed by the invisible forces underlying the sense images. But the latter really appear in the akashic record as the Caesar who moved and had his being, as the spiritual image of Caesar.
Here someone inexperienced in such matters might object: Your tales are nothing but day-dreams — you know from your history what Caesar did, and now your mighty imagination makes you believe you are seeing all sorts of invisibleakashic pictures. — But those who have experience in these things know that the less familiar one is with such events through outer history, the easier it is to read in the akashic record; for outer history and a knowledge of it are actually confusing for the seer. When we have reached a certain age we are hampered by various aspects of our education connected with the age in which we live. In the same way the seer, equipped with the education provided by his epoch, arrives at the point when he can give birth to his clairvoyant ego. He has studied history; he has learned how things are handed down in geology, biology, archeology, and the history of culture. All this actually interferes with his vision and may bias him in his reading of the akashic record; for in outer history one can by no means expect to find the same objectivity and certainty that are to be achieved in deciphering the akashic record.
Consider for a moment what it is that causes this or that event to become what is called history: it may be that certain documents have been preserved relating to some events, while others — and perhaps the most important ones — have been lost. An example will show how unreliable all history can be. Among a number of poems Goethe had planned but did not finish — and for the deeper student these constitute a beautiful supplement to the great and glorious finished works he left us — there is the fragment of a poem on Nausicaa. There exist only a few sketches in which Goethe had noted how he intended to deal with this poem. He often worked that way, jotting down a few sentences of which frequently but little is preserved. That was the case with the Nausicaa. Now, there were two men who endeavored to complete this work, both of them research men: Scherer, the literary historian, and Herman Grimm. But Herman Grimm was not only a researcher but an imaginative thinker — the man who wrote The Life of Michelangelo and the Goethe. Herman Grimm went about the task by trying to find his way into Goethe's spirit, and he asked himself: Goethe being what he was, how would he have conceived of a figure like the Nausicaa of the Odyssey? — Whereupon, with a certain disregard of that historical document, he created a Nausicaa in the spirit of Goethe. Scherer on the other hand, who always sought what was to be found among the documents in black and white, argued that a Nausicaa begun by Goethe must be completed purely on the basis of the material available; and he, too, tried to construct a Nausicaa, but exclusively out of what these scraps of paper had to offer. Of this procedure Herman Grimm remarked: What if Goethe's servant used some of these scraps of paper — perhaps just the ones containing something very important — for Iighting the fire? Have we any guarantee that the surviving scraps of paper are of any value at all compared with those that may have been used for lighting the fire?
All history based on documents may be analogous to this illustration, and indeed it often is. When building on documents we must never lose sight of the possibility that just the most important ones may have perished. Indeed, what passes for history is nothing more nor less than a fable convenue. But when the seer is hampered by this convention and at the same time sees everything quite differently in the akashic record, it is difficult for him to have faith in the akashicpicture; and the public will voice its resentment when he tells a different story out of the akashic record. Hence one who is experienced in these things likes best to speak of ancient times of which there exist no documents, of the remote stages in the evolution of our earth. There are no documents relating to those epochs; and that is where the akashic record reports most faithfully, because the seer is not confused by outer history. — You will be able to gather from these remarks that it could never occur to anyone familiar with these matters that the pictures provided by the akashic record might be an echo of what is already known to him from outer history.
If we now search the akashic record for the great event to which we alluded yesterday, we find the following salient points. The whole human race, in as far as it lives on the earth, is descended from a divine realm, from a divine-spiritual existence. It can be stated that before any possibility existed for a physical eye to see human bodies, for a hand to touch human bodies, man was present as a spiritual being; and in the earliest ages he existed as a part of the divine-spiritual beings: the Gods are the ancestors of men, so to speak, and men the descendants of the Gods. The Gods had need of men as their issue, because without them they would have been unable to descend, as it were, into the sensorial physical world. In that remote time the Gods had their being in other worlds, acting from without upon man who gradually evolved upon the earth.
And now men had to overcome, step by step, the obstacles placed in their path by their earth life. What is the nature of these obstacles? The aspect of evolution essential for mankind was the need for the Gods to remain spiritual, while men, as their descendants, became physical. All the obstacles presented specifically by physical existence had to be surmounted by man, who possessed spirit only as the inner phase of the physical, and who as an outer being had become physical. It was within the confines of material existence that he had to develop; and it was in this way that he progressed upward step by step, steadily maturing until he should become increasingly able to turn to the Gods in whom he had his genesis. A descent from the Gods, and then a turning back to them, in order to reach and re-unite with them, that is man's path through life on earth. But if this evolution was to come about, certain human individualities always had to develop more rapidly than the rest, to hurry on ahead in order to become their leaders and teachers. Such men, then, have their being in humanity's midst and find their way back to the Gods, as it were, in advance of others. We can picture it in this way: In a given epoch men have attained to a certain degree of maturity in their development. They may have the premonition of a return to the Gods, but they have a long way to go before achieving it. Every man has within him a spark of the divine, but in the leaders it is always brighter: they are closer to that divine principle to which man must ultimately attain again. And this that dwells in the leaders of mankind is perceived, by those whose eyes have been opened to the spirit, as their essence and chief attribute.
Let us suppose some great leader of mankind confronted another man, not his equal but above the average. The latter feels vividly that the other is a great leader, permeated to a high degree by the spirituality to which other men must eventually attain. How would such a man describe this leader? He might say: Before me stands a man, a man in a physical body like everyone else; but his physical body is negligible, it need not be taken into account. When, however, I observe him with the eye of the spirit, I see united with him a mighty spiritual being, a divine-spiritual being which predominates to such an extent that my whole attention is focussed on it — not on what appears as body which he has in common with others.
To spiritual sight, then, there appears in a leader of mankind something which in its nature towers above the rest of humanity, and which must be described in quite a different way: the description must be of what the spiritual eye sees. Nowadays public men whose word is law would undoubtedly be amused at the idea of such surpassing leaders of mankind: we already have the spectacle of various erudite scientists regarding the shining lights of humanity as psychiatric cases. Such a leader would only be recognized as such by those whose spiritual vision had been sharpened; but these would indeed know that he was neither a fool nor a visionary, nor simply a very gifted person, as the more benevolent might designate him, but rather, that he was among the greatest figures of human life in the spiritual sense.
That is the way it would be today; but in the past it was a different matter, even in the none too remote past. Human consciousness, as we know, has undergone various metamorphoses, and formerly all men were endowed with a dim, shadowy clairvoyance. Even at the time when Christ lived on earth clairvoyance was still developed to a certain degree, and in earlier centuries even more so, though it was but a shadow of the clairvoyance common in the Atlantean and the first post-Atlantean epochs. It disappeared only gradually. But a few isolated individuals still had it, and even today there are natural clairvoyants whose dim higher vision enables them to distinguish the spiritual nature of men.
Let us turn to the time in which Buddha appeared to the ancient Indian people. Conditions were very different at that time. Today the appearance of a Buddha, especially in Europe, would arouse no particular respect. But in those old days it was a different matter, for there were very many who could discern the true nature of the event, namely, that this Buddha birth meant a great deal more than does an ordinary birth. In oriental writings, especially in those treating the subject with the deepest understanding, the birth of Buddha is described in the grand manner, as one might put it. It is related that Queen Maya was “the image of the Great Mother”, and that it was foretold she would bring a mighty being into the world. This being was then born prematurely — a very common means of launching an outstanding being in the world, because thereby the human being in which the higher spiritual being is to incarnate is less closely amalgamated with matter than when the child is carried the full time of gestation. It is then further related in the notable records of the Orient that at the moment of birth Buddha was enlightened, that he opened his eyes at once and directed his gaze to the four points of the compass, to the north, south, east, and west. We are told that he then took seven steps, and that the marks of these steps are engraved in the ground he trod. It is further recorded that he spoke at once, and the words he spoke were these: “This is the life in which I shall rise from Bodhisattva to Buddha, the last incarnation I shall have to pass through on this earth!”
Strange as such a communication may appear to the materialistic-minded man of today, and impossible as it is to interpret offhand from a materialistic viewpoint, it is nevertheless the truth for one who is able to see things with the eye of the spirit; and at that time there still existed men who, by means of natural clairvoyance, could discern spiritually what it was that was born with Buddha. Those are strange excerpts I have quoted from the oriental writings: nowadays they are called legends and myths. But he who understands these things knows that something of spiritual truth is hidden therein; and events such as the Buddha birth have significance not only for the intimate circle of the personality in question but for the world as well, for they radiate spiritual forces, as it were. And those who lived at a time when the world was more receptive to spiritual forces perceived that at the birth of Buddha spiritual forces were actually rayed forth.
It would be a trivial question to ask: Why does that sort of thing not still occur today? As a matter of fact, it does happen; only it requires a seer to perceive it. It is not enough that there should be one to radiate these forces: there must also be someone there to receive them. When people were more spiritual than they are today they were also more receptive to such radiations. So again a profound truth underlies the story that healing and reconciling forces were at work when Buddha was born. It is not a legend but a report based on deep truths which tells us that when Buddha came into the world, those who had previously hated each other were now united in love, those who had quarreled now met with expressions of mutual esteem, and so forth.
To one who surveys the development of mankind with the eye of the seer this does not appear as it does to the historian — a level path, at most overtopped a bit here and there by figures accepted as historical. Men will not admit that spiritual peaks and mountains exist — that is more than they can bear. But the seer knows that there are lofty heights and mountains towering above the path of the rest of mankind: these are the leaders of humanity. Now, upon what is such leadership built? Upon having gradually passed through the stages leading to life in the spiritual world. One of these stages we pointed out yesterday as the most important one: the birth of the higher ego, the spiritual ego; and we said that this was preceded and followed by other stages. It is evident that what we designate the Christ event is the mightiest peak in the range of human evolution, and that a long preparation was indispensible before the Christ Being could incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth.
In order to understand this preparation we must visualize the same phenomenon on a smaller scale. Let us suppose a man starts on the path to spiritual cognition in any one of his incarnations — that is, he carries out some of the exercises (to be described later) which render the soul more and more spiritual, more receptive to what is spiritual, and guide it toward the moment when it bears the higher, imperishable ego that can see into the spiritual world. Many experiences are passed through before that moment arrives. One must not imagine that anything pertaining to the spirit can be hurried: everything of the sort must be absolved with patience and perseverance. Let us suppose, then, that someone starts a training of this kind. His aim is the birth of the higher ego, but he only succeeds in reaching a certain preliminary stage. Then he dies; and in due time he is born again. Here one of two things can happen: either he can feel the urge to seek a teacher who will show him how he can rapidly repeat what he had previously passed through and attain to the higher stages, or else, for one reason or another, he does not take this way. In the latter case, as well, the unfolding of his life will often be different from that of the lives of other men. The life of one who has trodden the path of enlightenment at all will quite of itself provide something resembling effects of the stage he had already reached in his previous incarnation. He will have experiences of a different nature, and the impression of these on him will be different from that received by other men. Then he will attain anew, by means of these experiences, to what he had previously achieved through his efforts. In his former incarnation he had to strive actively from step to step; but now that life brings him as a recurrence, so to speak, what he had once acquired through effort, this approaches him from without, as it were; and it may be that he will experience the results of his previous incarnations in quite a different form.
Thus it may happen that even in his childhood some experience can make upon his soul an impression of such a nature as to re-engender the forces he had acquired in his previous life. Suppose such a man had attained to a certain degree of wisdom in a given incarnation. He is then born again as a child, like everyone else. But at the age of seven or eight he has some painful experience, and the consequence is that all the wisdom he had once acquired comes to the fore again: he is back at the stage he had reached before, and thence can advance to the next one. Now we will suppose further that he endeavors to proceed another few steps, and dies again. In his next incarnation the same thing can happen again: once more some outer experience can put him to the test, as it were, again revealing first, what he had achieved in his next to the last incarnation, and then, in his last one. And now he can climb another step.
You will see from this that only by taking account of such events can we understand the life of one who had already passed through certain stages of development. There is one stage, for instance, that is soon reached by serious striving along the path of enlightenment: the stage of the so-called Wanderer, of him who has outgrown the prejudices of his immediate surroundings and has cast off the fetters imposed by his environment. This need not make him irreverent: we can become all the more reverent; but he must be free of the prejudices of his immediate surroundings. Let us assume that this man dies at a stage in which he has already worked his way through to a modicum of freedom and independence. When he is born again it can happen that comparatively early in his life some experience will re-awaken this feeling of freedom and independence in him. As a rule, this is the result of losing his father or someone else to whom he is closely bound; or it might be a consequence of his father's reprehensible behavior toward him — he might have cast him out, or something of the sort. All this is faithfully reported in the legends of the various peoples, for in matters of this kind the folk myths and legends are really wiser than is modern science. Among the legends you will often find the type in which the child is cast out, is found by shepherds, nourished and brought up by them, and later restored to his station (Chiron, Romulus and Remus). The fact that their own home plays them false serves to re-awaken in them the fruits of former incarnations. The legend of the casting out of Oedipus is in this category, too. You will now understand that the more advanced a man is — whether at the stage when his higher ego is born or even farther — the richer in experience his life must be if he is to be capable of a new experience, one he had not yet had.
He who was destined to embody in Himself the mighty Being we call the Christ could naturally not assume this mission at any random age: he had first to mature very gradually. No ordinary man could undertake this mission: it had to be one who in the course of many lives had attained to lofty degrees of initiation. What was here demanded is faithfully told us in the akashic record. This relates how a certain individuality had striven upward throughout many lives step by step to high degrees of initiation. Then this individuality was born again, and in this earthly embodiment passed first through preparatory experiences. But in this embodiment there lived an individuality who had already passed through high stages of initiation, an initiate destined in a later period of his life to receive into himself the Individuality of the Christ. And the first experiences of this initiate are repetitions of his former degrees of initiation, whereby all the previous achievements of his soul are re-evoked.
Now, we know that the human being consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego. But we also know that in the course of human life only the physical body is born at physical birth, and that up to the seventh year the etheric body is still enclosed in a sort of etheric maternal sheath which is then discarded, at the time of the change of teeth, in the same way as is the physical maternal sheath when the physical body is born into the outer physical world. Similarly, at puberty, an astral sheath is thrown off and the astral body is born. And approximately in the twenty-first year the ego is born, but again only gradually.
Having considered the birth of the physical body, of the etheric body in the seventh year, and of the astral body in the fourteenth or fifteenth year, we must similarly take into account a birth of the sentient soul, the intellectual soul, and the consciousness soul; and the ages at which these births occur are approximately the twenty-first, the twenty-eighth, and the thirty-fifth year respectively. From this it is evident that the Christ Being could not incarnate in a man of this earth, could not find room in such a man, before the intellectual soul was completely born: the Christ Being could not embody in the initiate into whom He was born before this initiate had reached his twenty-eighth year. Spiritual science confirms this. It was between the twenty-eighth and thirty-fifth years that the Christ Being entered the individuality who walked the earth as a great initiate, and who gradually, in the light and radiance of this great Being, unfolded all that otherwise man develops without this radiance, this light; namely, the etheric body, the astral body, the sentient soul, and the intellectual soul. Thus we can say that up to this age we see before us in him who was called to be the Christ bearer a lofty initiate who gradually passed through the experiences that finally evoked all he had undergone in previous incarnations — the sum of his conquests in the spiritual world. Only then could he say, Now I am here; now will I sacrifice all that I have. I no longer desire an independent ego, but will make of myself the bearer of the Christ: henceforth He shall dwell in me, shall fill me completely.
All four Gospels stress this moment when the Christ incorporated in a personality of this earth. However much they may differ in other respects, they all point to this event of the Christ slipping into the great initiate, as it were: the Baptism by John. In that moment, so clearly defined by the author of the John Gospel when he says that the Spirit descended in the form of a dove and united with Jesus of Nazareth, in that moment occurred the birth of Christ: as a new and higher Ego the Christ is born in the soul of Jesus of Nazareth. And the other ego, that of a great initiate, had now attained to the lofty plane on which it was ripe for this event.
And Who was it that was to be born in the Being of Jesus of Nazareth? This was indicated yesterday: the God Who was there from the beginning, Who had remained aloof in the spiritual world, so to speak, leaving mankind to its evolution. He it was Who descended and incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth. Can we find this indicated by the writer of the John Gospel? We need only take the words of the Gospel very seriously; and with this in mind let us read the beginning of the Old Testament:
In the (primordial) beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Let us visualize the situation: The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Below, the earth with its kingdoms as the issue of the divine Spirit; and among these one individual evolves to the point of being able to take into himself this Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters. What does the author of the John Gospel say? He tells us that John the Baptist recognized the Being spoken of in the Old Testament. He says:
I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
He knew that upon whomsoever the Spirit should descend was He that was to come: the Christ. There you have the beginning of world evolution: the Spirit moving upon the face of the waters; and there you have John who baptized with water, and the Spirit that in the beginning moved upon the face of the waters and now descends into the individuality of Jesus of Nazareth. It would be impossible to connect in a more grandiose way the event of Palestine with that other event, told at the beginning of the same document whose continuation is the Gospel.
But in other ways as well we find the John Gospel linked with this oldest of documents. The writer effects this by pointing out that with Jesus of Nazareth is merged the same principle that from the beginning worked creatively at all earth evolution. We know that the opening words of the Gospel of St. John read:
In the beginning was the Word (or Logos), and the Word (or Logos was with God, and a God was the Word (or Logos).
What is this Logos, and in what sense was it with God? Let us turn to the beginning of the Old Testament, to the passage presenting this Spirit of whom it is written:
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And the divine Spirit said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Let us keep that in mind and express it somewhat differently; let us listen to the divine Spirit intoning the creative Word through the world. What is this Word? In the beginning was the Logos, and the divine Spirit called out, and what the Spirit called out came to pass. That means that in the Word there was life; for had there been no life in it, nothing could have come to pass. And what was it that came to pass? We are told:
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Turn back here to the John Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and a God was the Word.
Now the Word had streamed into matter, where it became the outer form of the Godhead, as it were.
In it was life; and the life was the light of men.
In this way the author links his Gospel to that oldest of documents, the Book of Genesis. He refers to the same divine Spirit, only in different words. Then he makes it clear that this is the divine Spirit Who appears in Jesus of Nazareth. All four Evangelists agree that with the Baptism by John the Christ was born in Jesus of Nazareth, and that for the consummation of this event Jesus of Nazareth had needed comprehensive preparation. We must understand that everything previously told us concerning the life of Jesus of Nazareth is nothing but the sum of experiences portraying his ascent into the higher worlds during previous incarnations: the gradual preparation of everything embraced in his astral body, etheric body, and physical body for the eventual reception of the Christ.
The Evangelist who wrote the Gospel of St. Luke even says, somewhat paradigmatically, that Jesus of Nazareth had prepared himself in every respect for this great event, the birth of Christ in him. The individual experiences that led him upward to the Christ event will be discussed tomorrow. Today I shall merely point out that the author of the Luke Gospel told us in a single sentence that he who received the Christ into himself had indeed prepared himself in the previous years: that his astral body had achieved the virtue, nobility and wisdom indispensable for the birth of the Christ in him; and furthermore, that he had brought his etheric body to such a degree of maturity, and had developed such pliancy and beauty in his physical body, that the Christ could dwell in him. — One need only understand the Gospel aright. Take the second Chapter of Luke, verse 52. True, the wording of this verse in most of the Bible translations will not tell you what I just said. There it says:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and age , and in favor with God and man.
It would still make sense if such a man as the writer of the Luke Gospel had related of Jesus of Nazareth that he increased in wisdom; but when he reports as a solemn fact that he increased in age — well, that is not clear on its face, for it is a circumstance calling for no special emphasis. That it is nevertheless mentioned suggests that something more must be involved. Let us examine the verse in question in the original text:
Kai Jesous proekopten en to Sophia, kai helekia kai chariti Para theo kai anthropois.
As a matter of fact, here is what this means: “He increased in wisdom” signifies that he developed his astral body; and anyone who knows what the Greek mind associated with the word helekia can tell you that the term refers to the development of the etheric body, whereby wisdom gradually becomes skill. As you know, the astral body develops the qualities called upon for individual occasions: we understand something once and for all. The etheric body, on the other hand, shapes what it develops into habits, inclinations, and capabilities. This occurs by means of constant repetition. Wisdom becomes a habit: it is practised because it has become second nature. So what this "increase in age" means is an increase in maturity: just as the astral body has grown in wisdom, so the etheric body has increased in pure habits in the realm of goodness, nobility, and beauty. And the third quality that increased in Jesus of Nazareth, charis, really means that which manifests itself and becomes visible as beauty. No other translations are right. In translating this verse we must indicate that Jesus gained in gracious beauty; in other words, that his physical body, too, grew in beauty and nobility.
And Jesus increased in wisdom (in his astral body), in maturity of disposition (in his etheric body), and in gracious beauty (in his physical body), in a way manifest to God and man.
There you have the delineation given by St. Luke. Clearly, he knew that he who was to receive the Christ into himself had first to develop the threefold sheath — physical body, etheric body, and astral body — to its highest capacity.
In this way we shall learn how one can rediscover in the Gospels what spiritual science tells us independent of them. For this reason spiritual science constitutes a cultural current capable of recapturing the religious documents; and this recapture will not remain a mere milestone in human knowledge and cognition, but will stand as a conquest of soul and mind in the realm of feeling and sentience. And that is precisely the sort of understanding we need if we are to grasp the intervention of the Christ in the evolution of humanity.