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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Gospel of St. John
in Relation to the Other Three Gospels
GA 112


As a comment on the publication of the spoken lectures that were first published privately at the urgent request of members of the Anthroposophical Society and are now being made available to the public in book form, we cite the following excerpt from Rudolf Steiner's The Story of My Life.

“There are two categories of works that are the fruit of my anthroposophical activities: first, my published books, available to the world at large, and second, a great number of lecture courses first intended to be printed privately and for sale to members of the Anthroposophical Society only. These were taken down with varying accuracy in shorthand, but lack of time always prevented me from correcting them. I should have preferred to have the spoken word remain such; but the members clamored for the private printing of the lectures, and so this came about. If I had had time to correct them the restriction ‘for members only' would have been unnecessary from the start. Now, for over a year, it has been abandoned.

“Here in The Story of My Life it is necessary to make clear the relative position of these two categories—the published books and the private printings—in what I have developed as anthroposophy.

“Whoever would follow my inner struggles and labors to bring anthroposophy to present-day consciousness must do so by means of my published writings intended for the world at large. There I have dealt with all we have today in the way of striving for knowledge; and there is also set forth what took ever clearer shape in me through spiritual vision, what became the edifice of anthroposophy, albeit in many respects imperfectly.

“But side by side with this call to build up anthroposophy and, in doing so, to serve only what resulted from the duty to impart communications from the spirit world to the general educated public of today, there arose the obligation to meet the spiritual needs of the soul, the spiritual longings, of our members.

“There was above all an urgent demand to have the Gospels and the substance of the Bible in general presented in the light that had become the anthroposophical light. People wanted lecture courses on these revelations that have been vouchsafed mankind.

“These privately given courses led to something else. Only members were present, and these were familiar with the elementary disclosures of anthroposophy. One could talk to them as to advanced students, and these private lectures were given in a way that would not have done for writings intended for the public. In this inner circle I could talk of things in a way different from what it would necessarily have been, had the presentation been intended for the public.

“There exists, then, something in this duality—the public and the private writings—that really springs from two sources: the wholly public writings are the result of what struggled and worked in me alone, whereas in the private printings the Society struggles and works with me. I listen to the vibrations in the soul life of the members, and the character of the lectures is determined by my living vividly in what I hear there.

“If for no other reason than that I worked from the reality of the members' soul needs, the privately printed lectures must be judged by a different standard than those given full publicity from the start. The contents of the former were intended as oral communications, not as books; and the subjects discussed were gleaned in the course of time by listening for the soul needs of the members.

“ The substance of the published books conforms with the demands of anthroposophy as such. The manner in which the privately printed works unfold is something in which the soul configuration of the whole Society collaborated, in the sense set forth.”