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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Gospel of St. Luke
GA 114

In these lectures on the Luke Gospel, Steiner provides the solution to the riddle of the irreconcilable contradictions in the accounts of the genealogy and childhood of Jesus in Matthew and Luke when he unveils for the first time the secret of the two Jesus children. He also describes the workings of Zarathustra, the relation between the Buddha and Jesus child, and more.

The translation of these lectures has been made from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer and published as Volume No. 114 (Das Lukas-Evangelium) in the Complete Centenary Edition of the works of Rudolf Steiner in the original German.

Lecture I September 15, 1909
Initiates and Clairvoyants. Differences in the nature of experiences at each of the three stages of higher Knowledge: Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition. The Christ Event depicted in each Gospel from the standpoints of the different forms of super-sensible Knowledge: e.g. the Gospel of St. John is based chiefly upon Inspirational and Intuitive cognition, and less upon pictures derived from the world of Imagination. The Gospel of St. Luke is founded upon the communications of ‘seers’ (clairvoyants), of those who were ‘servants of the Word’. The Gospels are not the source of anthroposophical knowledge — which consists in the results derived from actual ascent into and investigation of the super-sensible world. Reading the ‘Akashic Chronicle’ in which is recorded “everything that has ever happened in the evolution of the world, the earth and humanity”. Investigation of the Akashic Chronicle is full of complications, especially when concerned with previous incarnations of a human being; the antecedents of physical, etheric and astral bodies, as well as of the Ego, must be traced. This also applies in the case of the Being known as Jesus of Nazareth, or, after the Baptism, as Christ Jesus. Differing accounts of the childhood of Jesus in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. The findings of spiritual investigation in connection with events prior to the Baptism and the descent of the Christ into the three bodies of Jesus of Nazareth.
Lecture II September 16, 1909
The Gospel of St. John, a text for mystics. The Gospel of St. Luke: a book for the multitude, for simple hearts and souls; a source of consolation for the oppressed. “Love is revealed to a greater extent in the Gospel of St. Luke than in any other Christian text.” Many pictorial representations of Christian truths in art are inspired by this Gospel. An account of the appearance of the angel and heavenly host announcing the birth of the Saviour to the shepherds. Correct rendering of the words (Luke II, 14) would be: ‘The Divine Beings manifest themselves from on high, that peace may reign below on the Earth among men who are filled with good will.’ Convergence of spiritual streams in the events of Palestine. The picture of the angelic host portrays one of the spiritual streams that flowed through the evolution of humanity. This spiritual stream is Buddhism — the religion of compassion and love. Description of the nature, the earlier development, the spiritual powers and the mission of the Bodhisattva who in his twenty-ninth year became Buddha, six hundred years before our era. Account of his power of astral vision; his escape from his father's palace; his experiences in the world and temptation by the, demon Mara. Legend of the horse, symbolizing faculties bestowed from above and not yet developed from a man's own soul. The teaching of compassion and love, embodied as a human quality, arose when ‘under the Bodhi tree’ the Bodhisattva became Buddha. He does not thereafter return to earthly incarnation but from spiritual worlds participates in happenings on Earth. It was the glorified Buddha who appeared to the shepherds in vision and rayed down his power upon the child born to parents descended from the priestly (Nathan) line of the House of David. The, prophecy of the sage Asita in India that after his death the child born as the Bodhisattva would become Buddha. Asita was born again as Simeon to whose spiritual vision the glorified Buddha was revealed above the head of the Nathan Jesus-child on the occasion of the presentation in the temple. (Luke II, 25–32.)
Lecture III September 17, 1909
The spiritual achievements of Buddhism stream from the Gospel of St. Luke but in an even higher form. Compassion and love in the highest sense of the words are the ideal of Buddhism. Love transformed into deed is the ideal presented in the Gospel of St. Luke. Christ Jesus depicted as the Physician of body and soul. Buddhism appears in this Gospel as though rejuvenated. The Bodhisattva and his participation in the evolution of humanity before becoming Buddha in his final incarnation on Earth. Remembrance of his incarnations. Knowledge previously possessed must be freshly acquired in each incarnation according to the needs of the time. The attainment of Buddha-hood signified the complete descent of the Bodhisattva into a human physical body. The teachings of the great Buddha were eventually to become powers universally possessed by men, arising from within themselves and from thence streaming back into the cosmos. In Buddha these powers were incarnate for the first time. This is a fact of far-reaching importance for the whole evolution of the Earth and of humanity. The Buddha's inaugural sermon at Benares. The essentials of Buddha's teaching expressed in the principles of the Eightfold Path. Legend of the ‘hare in the moon’. The Buddha's influence continues to work after his final incarnation on the Earth. The names of the spiritual sheaths of a Being such as the Bodhisattva who became Buddha: DHARMAKAYA (before the attainment of Buddha-hood); SAMBHOGAKAYA (‘body of perfection’); NIRMANAKAYA (‘body of transformation’). Revelation of the Nirmanakaya of Buddha to the shepherds and its union with the astral sheath detached from the twelve-year-old Nathan Jesus-child. Rejuvenation of Buddhism. The finding of Jesus in the temple and the change manifest in him.
Lecture IV September 18, 1909
The scene in the temple. The unique nature of the Jesus-child descended from the Nathan line of the House of David. Preservation of the fresh forces of childhood. Earlier planetary embodiments of the Earth and of primeval epochs in evolution. Separation of Sun and Moon from the Earth (reference should be made to Occult Science — an Outline,Chapter IV). Separation of Moon was necessary to enable man to become the bearer of an Ego. Before that separation, human souls (all but the very strongest) were obliged to leave the Earth for a time because of its increasing solidification. Unable to find suitable bodies, these souls were transferred to the other planets — to Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury — whence at a later time they gradually returned to the Earth. ‘An ancestral human pair’ — Adam and Eve. The Atantean Oracles and the task performed by the Manu, the great Initiate of the Sun Oracle, to ensure the continuation of civilization in the post-Atlantean epoch. The Holy Rishis of India. Zarathustra: the inaugurator of ancient Persian civilization; a later incarnation in ancient Chaldea and still later as Jesus of the Solomon line of the House of David. Hermes received the astral body, and Moses the etheric body of Zarathustra. The Rishis spoke of ‘Vishva Karman’ and Zarathustra proclaimed as ‘Ahura Mazdao’ the Being who later appeared as Christ. The Nathan Jesus and the great ‘Mother-Lodge’ of humanity. The effects of the Luciferic influence. The ‘Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’ and the ‘Tree of Life’. The Fall of Man. Certain forces in the ‘Adam-soul’ were withdrawn and remained guiltless; they were conducted as a ‘provisional Ego’ to the child described in the Gospel of St. Luke. Joseph, the father, is therefore given a lineage extending back to Adam, who is himself ‘born of God’. This secret was also known to St. Paul and underlies his reference to the ‘Old Adam’ and the ‘New Adam’. (See I Cor. XV, 45–7.) The Adam-soul as it was before the Fall was in the Nathan Jesus-child. Buddhism rejuvenated by the youthful forces of this child when his astral sheath united with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. Two lines of descent from David: the Nathan (or priestly) line and the Solomon (or kingly) line. The child Jesus of St. Luke's Gospel descended from the Nathan line; the child Jesus of St. Matthew's Gospel from the Solomon line. Both children were born in Bethlehem. Reincarnation of Zarathustra in the Solomon Jesus-child.
Lecture V September 19, 1909
Fusion of Buddhism and Zoroastrianism made possible through the births of the two Jesus-children in Palestine. Interval of ‘a few months’ between the two births. Both the Nathan Jesus (Gospel of St. Luke) and John the Baptist were born after the massacre of the innocents. The Solomon Jesus (Gospel of St. Matthew) and the flight into Egypt to avoid the massacre. Contrast between Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. Through his pupils Hermes and Moses, Zarathustra made provision for the Egyptian civilization-epoch and also influenced the civilization of the Hebrews. Hermes bore within him the astral body of Zarathustra; Moses, bearing the etheric body of Zarathustra, was able to present in Genesis, mighty pictures of happenings in Time. Zarathustra born in Chaldea about 600 B.C. as Zarathas or Nazarathos; his pupils there were ‘Wise Men’ or ‘Magi’ whose wisdom revealed to them in a later incarnation that their teacher had been born in Bethlehem (as the Solomon Jesus). Their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Through the flight into Egypt, the Zarathustra-Ego was able to reunite with the forces once sacrificed by him to Hermes and Moses. After the return from Egypt the family of the Solomon Jesus settled in Nazareth near the family of the Nathan Jesus and the two boys grew up in close proximity. Qualities transmitted by heredity: will and power by the paternal element; inwardness by the maternal element. Annunciation of the birth of the Solomon Jesus was to tic father, and of the Nathan Jesus to the mother. The birth and mission of John the Baptist. The relationship between the soul-being in the Nathan Jesus and the Ego in John the Baptist. The meeting between Mary and Elisabeth. Contrasting natures of the two Jesus-children: the Solomon Jesus gifted with prematurely advanced understanding of the outer world; the Nathan Jesus with infinite depth of feeling. The, twelve-year-old boy in the temple, when the Ego of Zarathustra left the body of the Solomon Jesus and passed into that of the Nathan Jesus. That was the point of time when the Nirmanakaya of Buddha united with the cast-off astral sheath of the Nathan Jesus. Deaths of the mother of the Nathan Jesus, the father of the Solomon Jesus, and the Solomon Jesus-boy from whom the Ego had departed; later on, death of the father of the Nathan Jesus. The Zarathustra-Individuality lived in the body of the Nathan Jesus until the Baptism by John. Union of the soul of the mother of the. Nathan Jesus with the mother now remaining to the Zarathustra-Individuality.
Lecture VI September 20, 1909
The significance of the Bodhisattva who became Buddha. Principles of the Eightfold Path had been revealed from above before the achievement of Buddha made it possible for men consciously to discover them within themselves. The body of a Bodhisattva never encloses the whole of his being. When the last Bodhisattva became Buddha he descended fully into a human organism. Beings for whom human embodiment was too limited to receive the whole Individuality were said to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”. This can rightly be said of Buddha in his previous incarnations as Bodhisattva. The “etheric substance withdrawn from Adam before the Fall” was preserved and merged into the Nathan Jesus-child. (See also previous lecture.) Overshadowing by the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. Influence exercised upon the birth of John the Baptist. Contrast between the teaching given through Buddha to the people of India, and through Moses to the ancient Hebrews. Provision for spiritual streams to fructify each other: the development of one is held back, to receive at a later time what the other has achieved. In the Ten Commandments the ancient Hebrews received Laws from outside, whereas the Indian people had been taught to recognize the inner Law — Dharma. Zarathustra's teachings in ancient Persia and subsequently in Chaldea. His influence, through Moses, upon Hebrew doctrine. The concept of human guilt. The Book of Job. The nature of the Prophets — Individualities ‘impelled by the Spirit’. Elijah reborn as John the Baptist. The visit of Mary to Elisabeth. The Nirmanakaya of Buddha, hovering above the embryo of the Nathan Jesus, worked upon Elisabeth and through her upon the Ego of the child who was the former Elijah and was to be born as John the Baptist. (See also the previous lecture.) Blossoming of Buddha's teaching in that given by John on the banks of the Jordan. Love inherent in blood-relationship was to be expanded into love that passes from soul to soul, transcending ties of blood. Abandonment of all family ties by the Zarathustra-Individuality, first as the Solomon Jesus and subsequently in the body of the Nathan Jesus. The proclamation of universal human love.
Lecture VII September 21, 1909
The development of the Nathan Jesus-child. Definite periods of seven years in normal human life. Importance of the thirty-fifth year. Development of the Nathan Jesus somewhat accelerated: puberty took place in the twelfth instead of the fourteenth year. The Zarathustra-Ego, filled with cosmological wisdom, passed into the body of the Nathan Jesus in the twelfth year of life and elaborated the faculties in that soul to the highest degree of excellence. At the Baptism by John the Zarathustra-Ego left the body of the Nathan Jesus into which the Christ then entered. Soon after the Zarathustra-Ego had passed into the body of the Nathan Jesus, the Solomon Jesus-boy died; his etheric body was taken by the mother of the Nathan Jesus with her into the spiritual world when she too died — at approximately the same time as the Solomon Jesus. Having left the body of the Nathan Jesus at the Baptism by John, the Zarathustra-Individuality united with the etheric body that had originally been his in the body of the Solomon Jesus. This led to the existence of the Being known as the “Master Jesus” who in quickly recurring incarnations has become the Inspirer of the great spiritual figures in Christianity. The Baptism by John and the descent of the Christ into the sheaths of the Nathan Jesus. Christ, the Sun-Spirit, known to the holy Rishis as Vishva Karman and to Zarathustra as Ahura Mazdao, descended gradually to the Earth from the Sun and was revealed to Moses on Sinai as Jahve — the reflection of Christ. Preparation of a body fit to receive this Being. The Bodhisattva who became Gautama Buddha was succeeded by the Bodhisattva who will become the Maitreya Buddha. The Lodge of the Twelve Bodhisattvas, and their missions. The Christ is the ‘Thirteenth’ from whom the Bodhisattvas receive what they have to carry into Earth evolution. At the Baptism in the Jordan the heavenly ‘Thirteenth’ appeared on the Earth. The ‘Fall into Sin’ and the penetration of the Luciferic forces into the human astral body. Part of the It hole body withdrawn from the arbitrary control of man. The four ethers: Life-Ether, Tone- or Number-Ether, Light-Ether, Fire-Ether, and their correspondences with the functions of man's life of soul. Zarathustra proclaimed the future descent to Earth of the Divine-Creative Word, ‘Hanover’. At the Baptism in the Jordan the Word became flesh.
Lecture VIII September 24, 1909
Essential to recognize that great changes have taken place in the nature and constitution of man through the ages, particularly from the time of Atlantis onwards. In ancient Indian civilization the etheric body still projected beyond the physical body and was much less firmly knit with it than at present. This made clairvoyant consciousness possible and the soul-forces were able to exert far greater power over the processes in the human physical body. Having meanwhile penetrated deeply into the physical body, the etheric body is now on the point of emerging again. This is the cause of many of the semi-psychic, semi-bodily diseases — the so-called ‘nervous’ diseases — of our time. Intense effect produced by words of love or hatred in very early post-Atlantean times. In our present age the effects made by spiritual truths will increase in strength and in the future the soul-and-spirit will gain great power over the physical. “Spiritual Science is the great remedy for souls as they live on into the future.” The process of healing in the primeval Indian epoch: effects made upon the soul could be transmitted to the etheric body and by it to the physical. In the Graeco-Latin epoch the power of soul-and-spirit over the body was about equal to that of the body over the soul. In our present, fifth post-Atlantean epoch, the physical has gained predominance over the soul. A new consciousness must develop. In the sixth epoch, the spiritual will regain dominion over the physical. The parable of the Sower. Great spiritual truths can be unveiled only gradually. In the Graeco-Latin epoch the human organism was still, in many cases, amenable to spiritual influences; hence that was the right moment for Christ Jesus to appear. Suitable physical organisms were essential for Christ and also for the Buddha. Far-reaching significance of the Eightfold Path and its connection with the sixteen-petalled lotus-flower in reran. Christ brought into the world a power of Egohood able to penetrate the human sheaths so completely that the whole organism could be affected. By His mere presence Christ healed diseases that originated in different members of man's being. Astral body: transgressions manifested in the disease called ‘possession’ in the Gospel of St. Luke. Etheric body: defects expressed in paralysis. “Thy sins are forgiven thee!” Influences able to reach the physical body are the most deeply hidden of all. The healing of the daughter of Jairus. Her karmic connection with the woman who had been healed by touching the hem of Christ's garment. The healings described in the Gospel of St. Luke are evidences of the mastery of the Christ-Ego over the astral, etheric and physical bodies. Attainment of such mastery is the Ideal of human evolution.
Lecture IX September 25, 1909
At the time of Christ Jesus a radical change took place in humanity; a more gradual change is in process in our own day. Fallacy of statement that ‘Nature makes no jumps’. The ‘jump’ now taking place is indicated by the fact that the human heart is longing for the spiritual-scientific explanation of the Bible. When Christ Jesus appeared, the Ego had long been membered into man but was not fully self-conscious. The Law proclaimed from Sinai affected the astral body and was the last prophetic announcement of the Ego. Had Christ Jesus not come to the Earth, the Ego would have become empty of all content, utterly given over to egoistic impulses. The Deed of Christ on the Earth was so to stimulate the development of the Ego in man that the power of Love should stream from it. Christ bade men understand the ‘signs of the times’ and recognize the transition taking place in humanity, instead of clinging to the ‘old leaven’ preserved by the Scribes and Pharisees. The parable of the unjust steward. (Luke XVI, 1–16.) Importance of recognizing those who in the modern age are the representatives of Mammon, the god of hindrance. What Buddha brought to mankind was the wisdom, the teaching of Love; Christ brought Love itself as a living power which was eventually to flow from the Egos of men themselves into the world. The ‘power of Faith’ is possessed by one who receives Christ into himself in such a way that Love overflows from his Ego. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” — a cardinal principle of Christianity. (Matt. XII, 34.) The successor of the Bodhisattva who attained Buddhahood five or six centuries before our era will become the Maitreya Buddha in about three thousand years reckoned from the present time. He will be able to fulfil his mission in evolution if a sufficient number of human beings have developed within themselves not only the wisdom of the Eightfold Path but from whose hearts the living Substance of Love overflows into the world. The mission of the Bodhisattvas and of the Buddha: to bring the ‘Wisdom of Love’ to the Earth. The mission of Christ: the redemption of souls through the ‘Power of Love’ He brought to the Earth.
Lecture X September 26, 1909
Great truths must be imparted in a form suitable for the epoch in which, they are communicated. Humanity has only now become sufficiently mature to understand the spiritual content of the laws of Karma and Reincarnation. Instead of being presented as abstract doctrines, feelings for such truths were, to begin with, awakened in the human soul. Whereas before the coming of Christ men had received revelations and experienced their effects in the astral, etheric and physical bodies, the Ego was now gradually to become fully conscious. Having Himself given the impulse, Christ Jesus made provision for Individualities to appear in later times to meet the spiritual needs of evolving humanity. The ‘awakening’ of Lazarus who continued to work as John. Different modes of Initiation. The ‘awakening’ of the young man of Nain was an Initiation of a special kind; his soul was transformed but its powers did not come to fruition until the next incarnation, when he became a great religious Teacher. Permeation of Christianity with the teachings of Reincarnation and Karma. The Law of Sinai was addressed to and worked upon the astral body in men. The coming of Christ enabled the Ego to work as an entirely new force. John the Baptist: the last to transmit, in its purest, noblest form, the teaching belonging to past ages. Christ's testimony of John. (Luke VII, 24–8.) One part only of the human being derives from the union of the male and female parental seeds. “There is in each human being something that does not arise from the seed but is a ‘virgin birth’, flowing from another source into the process of germination.” This is connected with faculties that are not inherited but derived from the kingdom of Heaven. Two ways of experiencing the spiritual world in pre-Christian times: through Initiation while out of the body, symbolized by the ‘Sign of Jonah’, and through revelation from above, symbolized by the ‘Sign of Solomon’. The Queen of Sheba: the representative of those possessing the heritage of dim clairvoyance. Through the new element brought by Christ, the spiritual world was eventually to become directly manifest to the Ego, but this could come to pass only gradually. The scene of the Transfiguration: Christ finds the disciples asleep. “The Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of men,” means that the Ego was to be given over to men for the fulfilment of their mission on Earth. The Christ-power must unite with what has remained childlike in man from times before the Luciferic influence took effect. The old teachings were to be replaced by new teachings, understood, to begin with, through the power of Faith. In the Event of Golgotha the old Initiation, hitherto enacted in the secrecy of the Mysteries was transferred to the open arena of world-history and enacted for all humanity. The blood that flowed from the wounds of Christ Jesus on Golgotha signified the sacrifice of the surplus egoism in human nature. The outpouring of Infinite Love described in the Gospel of St. Luke. The truths of Love, Faith, Hope. Spiritual science an instrument for understanding the treasures given to humanity. Love and Peace: the most beautiful mirror-image of Divine Mysteries revealed on Earth and streaming back from human hearts to the heights of the spiritual World.