The Gospel of St. Matthew
1 September 1910, Berne
This is the third opportunity I have had of speaking in Switzerland about the greatest of all events in the history of the Earth and of Mankind. The first was in Basle, when I spoke of the aspect of this event presented in the Gospel of St. John; on the second occa.sion the lectures were based on the account given by St. Luke; and now, on the third occasion, the basis of the lectures is to be the Gospel of St. Matthew. 1A list of publications recommended for study in connection with the following lectures will be found on page 239.
As I have often said, it is an important fact that accounts of this event have been preserved in four records, in certain respects seeming to differ from each other. This often gives rise to negative and destructive criticism from materialistic scholarship to-day yet it is precisely the point that we, as anthroposophists, consider significant. For nobody should venture to portray any fact or being he has observed from one side only. If a tree is photographed from a single side, it cannot justifiably be said that this photograph is a true or complete portrayal of the whole outer appearance of the tree. If, however, it is photographed from four sides, by comparing the four pictures — even if they differ considerably — we can gain a comprehensive idea of the tree. If this analogy holds good for ordinary things, even in such an external sense, how could anyone fail to realise that an event embracing in the fullest sense all happenings and essential facts of existence would be incomprehensible if it were described from one side only. We should not therefore speak of ‘contradictions’ in the four Gospels. The truth is far rather that each writer knew himself to be capable of describing only one aspect of this stupendous event and was aware that by comparison of the different accounts it would be possible for humanity gradually to form a comprehensive picture of it. So we too will be patient and try to gain some understanding of this greatest of all events in Earth-evolution from the four accounts given in the New Testament.
From what has been said in other lecture-courses, you will certainly be able to gather how the four points of view presented in the Gospels can be differentiated. But now, before characterizing these four points of view even in their purely external aspect, let me make it clear at the beginning of this lecture-course that I shall not do what is customary nowadays when studying the Gospels. It is usual to begin with accounts of their historical origins. But it will be better for us to wait until the end of the lectures before hearing what there is to be said about the origin of the Gospel of St. Matthew. It is after all only natural and would be borne out in the case of other branches of knowledge, that the gist of any subject must be thoroughly grasped before its history can be truly understood. No one can usefully study a history of arithmetic, for example, who is entirely ignorant of that subject. The proper place for historical details is at the end of a study, and when this procedure is not followed the natural needs of human cognition are being overlooked. Here, then, we shall try to satisfy these needs by examining, first, the content of the Gospel of St. Matthew, and afterwards by saying something about its historical origin.
Study of the Gospels, even of their external form, makes us aware of a certain difference in the modes of expression, and this feeling will be intensified when we recall what was said in my lectures on the Gospels of St. John and St. Luke. In trying to fathom the mighty communications given in the Gospel of St. John, we are almost overwhelmed by their sublimity and spiritual grandeur; we feel that this Gospel reveals the very highest goal to which human wisdom can aspire and human cognition gradually attain. Man seems to be standing below, lifting the eyes of his soul to the heights of cosmic existence and saying to himself : However insignificant I may be, the Gospel of St. John enables me to divine that some element with which I myself am akin descends into my soul and imbues me with the feeling of infinitude. — Thus the spiritual magnitude of the cosmic life to which man is related is experienced a by the soul when contemplating the Gospel of St. John.
In studying St. Luke's Gospel we found that the manner of its presentation was different. In contemplating the Gospel of St. John it is paramountly the spiritual greatness — even though divined but dimly — that pervades the soul like a magic breath, whereas in the Gospel of St. Luke the influence is more inward, causing in the soul an intensification of all that the powers of cosmic love and sacrifice can effect in the world when we are able to share in them. So, while St. John describes the Being of Christ Jesus in His spiritual stature, St. Luke shows us His immeasurable capacity for sacrifice. St. Luke gives us an inkling of what this power of sacrificing love has brought about in the evolution of the world and of mankind — this love, which, in the same way as other forces, pulsates and weaves throughout the universe. We see, therefore, that while it is mainly the element of feeling that is uppermost when we steep ourselves in the Gospel of St. Luke, it is the element of understanding — informing us, to some extent, of the very foundations of knowledge and of its goals — that is aroused by the Gospel of St. John. That Gospel speaks more to our faculty of cognition, our understanding, the Gospel of St. Luke more to our hearts. The Gospels themselves produce these feelings in us; but it was also my endeavour to let the keynotes sound through the lectures that were given on the two Gospels in the light of Spiritual Science. Those who heard only words in the lectures on the Gospel of St. John or in those on the Gospel of St. Luke, certainly did not hear everything. There was a fundamental difference in the manner and style of speaking in the two lecture-courses. And everything must again be different when we come to study the Gospel of St. Matthew.
The Gospel of St. Luke makes us feel as if all the human love that ever existed in the evolution of mankind poured into the Being who lived as Christ Jesus at the beginning of our era.
Considered merely in its external aspect, the Gospel of St. Matthew appears at first to present a picture of greater variety than do the other two Gospels, even than do all the other three. For when the time comes to study the Gospel of St. Mark we shall find that in a certain respect it too presents one particular aspect.
The Gospel of. St, John reveals to us the magnitude of the wisdom of Christ Jesus; the Gospel of St. Luke, the power of His love. When we study the Gospel of St. Mark, the picture will primarily be one of might, of the creative Powers permeating the universe in all their glory. In that Gospel there is something overwhelming in the intensity with which the cosmic forces come to expression: when we really begin to understand the content of the Gospel of St. Mark, it is as though these forces were surging towards us from all directions of space. While the Gospel of St. Luke brings inner warmth into the soul and the Gospel of St. John fills it with hope, the Gospel of St. Mark makes us aware of the overwhelming power and splendour of the cosmic forces — so overwhelming that the soul feels well nigh shattered.
The Gospel of St. Matthew is different. All three elements are present here: the warmth of feeling and love, the knowledge full of hope and promise, the majesty of the universe. These elements are present in the Gospel of St. Matthew in a modified form and for this reason seem to be more humanly akin to us than in the other Gospels. Whereas the wisdom, the love and the splendour depicted in the other three Gospels might overwhelm us almost to the point of collapse, we feel able to stand erect before the picture presented in the Gospel of St. Matthew, even to approach and stand on a level with it. Everything is more humanly related to us; we never feel shattered, although it too contains elements which in the other Gospels tend to have this effect. It is the most human of the four records and describes Christ Jesus as a man, in such a way that in all His deeds He is near us in a human sense. In a certain respect the Gospel of St. Matthew is like a commentary on the other Gospels. It clarifies to some extent what otherwise is often beyond the reach of human understanding and once we realise this, great illumination is shed upon the nature of the other three Gospels.
In the Gospel of St. John we are shown how with his wisdom and knowledge man can set out towards the goal that is attainable; this is made plain at the very beginning of the Gospel, where Christ Jesus is referred to as the Creative Logos. The highest spiritual conception our minds and hearts can attain is presented in the very first sentences of this Gospel.
It is different in the Gospel of St. Matthew. This Gospel begins by giving the lineage of the man Jesus of Nazareth from a definite point in history and within a particular people. It shows us how the qualities that were concentrated in Jesus of Nazareth had been acquired through heredity from Abraham and his descendants; how throughout three times fourteen generations a people had allowed the best it had to impart to flow into the blood, in order that preparation might be made for the flowering, in one single Individuality, of the highest powers possible to man.
The Gospel of St. John points to the infinity of the Logos, the Gospel of St. Luke leads back to the very beginning of mankind's evolution. The Gospel of St. Matthew shows us a man, Jesus of Nazareth, born from a people whose qualities had been transmitted by heredity from Abraham, the father of the tribal stock, through three times fourteen generations.
It can only very briefly be indicated here that anyone who desires really to understand the Gospel of St. Mark must have some knowledge of the cosmic forces streaming through the evolution of our world. For the picture of Christ Jesus presented in that Gospel shows us that the Cosmos itself — an essence of the cosmic forces in the infinitude of space — is operating in and through a human agency. St. Mark sets out to describe the deeds of Christ as extracts of cosmic activities, how in Christ Jesus, the God-Man on the Earth, we have before us a quintessence of the boundless power of the Sun. Thus St. Mark describes to us the manner in which the forces of the heavens and the stars operate through human powers.
In a certain way the Gospel of St. Matthew too is concerned, with stellar activity, for at the very beginning it is clearly indicated that cosmic happenings are connected with the evolution of humanity, inasmuch as the three Magi are guided to the birthplace of Jesus by a star. But this Gospel does not describe cosmic workings as does the Gospel of St. Mark; it does not require us to raise our eyes to these heights. It shows us three men, three Magi, and the effect the Cosmos has upon them. We can contemplate these three men and become aware of what they are feeling. Thus if it is a matter of being able to experience cosmic realities, the Gospel of St. Matthew directs our gaze, not to infinitudes of space, but to man himself, to the effect, the reflection, of cosmic activities in human hearts.
(Again I beg that these indications shall be taken merely as pointing to the style in which the Gospels are written. For it is fundamentally characteristic of the Gospels, I repeat, that they describe events from different angles. The distinctive style in which each is written is in accordance with what they want to convey about the greatest event in the evolution of Mankind and of the Earth.)
So we see that the fact of paramount significance at the beginning of the Gospel of St. Matthew is that attention is called to the direct blood-relationships of Jesus of Nazareth. An answer is given to thc question: How was the physical personality of Jesus of Nazareth constituted? How were all the qualities of a people since its founder, Abraham, concentrated in this one personality in order that the Being we call Christ could reveal His presence there ? We are told: In order that the Christ Being might be able to incarnate in a physical body, this body must have qualities that could only be present if all the qualities of the blood of Abraham's descendants were concentrated in the single personality of Jesus of Nazareth. We arc therefore shown how the blood of Jesus of Nazareth leads back through the generations to the founder of the Hebrew people; and how on this account the essential attributes of this people, their particular function in world-history, in the evolution of the world and of humanity, were concentrated in the physical personality of Jesus of Nazareth. To understand the intention of the writer of the Gospel of St. Matthew in giving this introduction, it is therefore necessary to know something about the intrinsic nature of the Hebrew people and to be able to answer the question: What was this race, by virtue of its special character, able to give to mankind?
Materialistic history pays little attention to what must here be advanced. It gives abstract accounts of outer happenings, placing one people practically on a par with every other. But this entirely ignores a fact which anyone wishing to understand the evolutionary process must regard as fundamental, namely, that no people has the same task and mission as another; each has its own specific task and mission; each has to contribute a particular share of the riches which should accrue to the Earth as the result of mankind's evolution. And each share is distinct from the others. Even down to physical details, each people is so constituted that it can make its appropriate contribution to humanity as a whole. In other words: the physical, etheric and astral bodies of human beings belonging to a particular people develop and arc combined in such a way as to afford the appropriate instrument for the contribution that people has to make to humanity. — What, then, was to be the contribution of the Hebrew people, and how were its essential qualities concentrated in the body of Jesus of Nazareth?
To understand the mission of the Hebrew people we must make a deeper study of the whole evolution of humanity. It will be necessary to speak with greater precision of certain matters indicated more briefly in other lectures and in the book Occult Science—an Outline. The part played by the Hebrew people in the evolution of mankind as a whole will be most easily understood if we take the Atlantean catastrophe as a starting-point.
When the face of the Earth was changed as a result of the Atlantean Deluge, the peoples then living on the continent of Atlantis moved from the West across to the East in two main streams, one taking a more northerly, the other a more southerly course. One stream in this great movement of Atlantean peoples through Europe towards Asia spread to the region around the Caspian Sea, while another passed through the land we now call Africa. Over in Asia a kind of confluence of these two streams took place, as when two currents meet and a vortex is formed.
But what chiefly interests us about these peoples who were thus forced to make their way across to the East from Atlantis, is their mode of perception, the general form of their soul-life — in the case, at least, of the main mass of them. In the first post-Atlantean epoch man's whole constitution of soul was different from what it came to be later on — different above all from what it is to-day. Those ancient people still had clairvoyant perception of their surroundings; they were able to behold the spiritual, and even what is now seen physically was perceived then in a more spiritual way. But a point of special importance is that this clairvoyance of the original post-Atlantean peoples was again different, in a certain respect, from that of the Atlanteans themselves in the heyday of their culture. Their clairvoyance enabled men to gaze into a spiritual world with purity of vision, and the revelations of the spiritual world engendered impulses for the good in their souls. Indeed it would be true to say that during the prime of Atlantean culture, the strength of impulses for the good depended upon the ability of a man to look deeply into the spiritual world; in one with less ability these impulses were correspondingly weaker.
The changes which then took place on. the Earth were such that already towards the last third of the Atlantean epoch, but especially in the early post-Atlantean epoch, the good aspects of the old Atlantean clairvoyance had gradually disappeared and were preserved only by those who had undergone special training in the centres of Initiation. As time went on, what remained of this clairvoyance as a natural, inborn gift assumed a character leading all too easily to vision of the evil Powers of existence. Clairvoyance had become too weak to behold the good Powers. On the other hand, vision of the evil, delusive Powers remained, and a form of clairvoyance by no means commendable was widespread in certain regions inhabited by post-Atlantean peoples, a clairvoyance acting in itself as a kind of tempter.
This decline of the old clairvoyance was accompanied by a gradual development of the faculty of sense-perception recognized as normal for human beings to-day. But the things men perceived with their eyes in the first post-Atlantean epoch, and which they perceive normally to-day, were not sources of temptation in that past time, because the soul-forces that are now the cause of temptation had not yet developed. External perceptions which may give rise to inordinate enjoyment in a man to-day, however deceptive they may be, did not constitute any particular temptation for early post-Atlantean man. It was when inherited remains of the old clairvoyance awakened in him that his temptation began. He had practically no vision of the good side of the spiritual world; the Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces bad such a strong effect upon him that what he saw Were the Powers of temptation and delusion. With these inherited faculties of ancient clairvoyance he perceived the Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces. And so it became necessary for those whose wisdom for the leadership and guidance of human evolution had been received from the Mysteries, to institute means to ensure that in spite of these adverse circumstances men should ultimately be led to the good goal and to clarity of understanding.
The people who had spread to the East after the great Atlantean catastrophe were at very different stages of evolution; it can be said that the level of moral and spiritual development was highest in those who went farthest East. The dawning faculty of external perception was like the opening of a new world, revealing with ever greater clarity the grandeur and splendour of the outer world of the senses. This faculty was especially characteristic of the people who settled to the North of present-day India, in the regions extending to. the Caspian Sea, as far as the Oxus and Jaxartes. In this region of Asia there had settled groups of people from whom many racial streams spread out in different directions, one such stream being the ancient Indian people whose spiritual view of thc world has often been characterized.
Soon after the Atlantean. Flood, indeed to some extent - while it was still in process, the sense-awareness of external reality had already developed among this group of people in Middle Asia. But at the same time, in the human beings who had incarnated there, a kind of memory-knowledge persisted, a living recollection of what they had experienced in the days of Atlantis. This characteristic was strongest in those who went down into India. They had, it is true, great understanding of the splendour of the external world; their faculties of observation and sense-perception were more developed than those of the other peoples, but. at thc same time their remembrance of the ancient spiritual powers of vision in Atlantis was vivid and strong. Hence there arose in them an intense longing for the spiritual world which they remembered; it was easy for them to gaze again into that world — but they also had the feeling that what was presented to the external senses was maya, illusion. And so in these people too the impulse arose not to pay particular attention to the outer world of sense but to do everything possible to enable the soul — now through development deliberately induced, through yoga — to rise to the realm where it could receive the revelations which in the days of old Atlantis had come directly from the spiritual world.
This tendency to despise the outer world, to regard it as illusion and to follow only those impulses which led to the spiritual, was less strongly developed in the people who remained farther North. But they were in a very tragic situation. The innate qualities of the ancient Indian people were such that it was comparatively easy for any one of them to undergo a definite training in Yoga enabling him to rise once again into the realms he had known in Atlantean times. It was easy for such a man to overcome, what he regarded as illusion. He overcame it in acts of cognition, and his supreme conviction was this: The sense-world is maya, is illusion; but if I make efforts to develop my soul I shall reach the world lying behind the sense-world! Thus it was through an inner process that the Indian succeeded in overcoming what he regarded as maya.
The character of the more northerly peoples was different. They were the Persians, the Medes, the Bactrians — known in history as Aryans in the narrower sense. In them too there was a strong tendency towards the development of external perception, external intellectuality. But the urge to achieve through inner development, through some form of Yoga, what the Atlanteans had experienced quite naturally, was not particularly marked. Recollection of the past was not strong enough in these more northerly peoples to become a striving to overcome, through knowledge, the illusion of the outer world. Their attitude of soul was not the same as that of the Indians. The attitude of an Iranian, a Persian, a Mede, might be expressed in modern words somewhat as follows: If we once dwelt in the spiritual world, experiencing and perceiving realities of spirit and of soul, and now find ourselves transplanted into the physical world we see with our eyes and grasp with the brain-bound intellect, the cause of this does not lie in man alone; what has to be overcome cannot be overcome merely in the inner being of man. Nothing much would result from that ! An Iranian would have said: It is not only in man that a change has taken place; Nature herself and everything on the Earth must also have changed when man descended from divine-spiritual realms. It cannot therefore be right to leave the surrounding world just as it is, saying simply: This is maya, illusion, but WC will disregard it and rise into the spiritual world! In that way we shall, it is true, bring about a change in ourselves but not in the world around us. — Therefore the attitude of an Iranian did not allow him to say: maya is outspread around me; I will transcend it, will overcome it in my own being and so reach the spiritual world. — No, he said: man belongs to and is a member of the world around him. Therefore if that which is divine in him, and has descended with him from divine-spiritual heights, is to be transformed, not only what is within him must be changed back to its former state, but also everything in the outer world around! — And this was what gave the people the impulse to take an active and vigorous share in transforming thc world.
Whereas in India men said: The world has fallen; what it now presents is maya—in the more northerly regions they said : True, the world has fallen, but it is our task to change it in such a way that it becomes spiritual again. Contemplation, contemplative understanding — this was basically characteristic of the Indian people. Their attitude was simply that sense-perception is illusion, maya. Activity, physical energy, the will to transform external Nature — these were the basic characteristics of the Iranian and other peoples living in regions North of India. They said: The world around us has fallen from the Divine but man is called upon to lead it back again to the Divine! And the innate traits of the Iranian people were sublimated and charged with measureless energy in the spiritual leaders who went forth from the Mysteries.
What took place towards the East and South of the Caspian Sea can only be adequately understood, even outwardly, by comparing it with conditions still farther to the North, that is to say in the regions bordering on the Siberia and Russia of to-day, and extending even into Europe. Here there were people who had preserved much of the ancient clairvoyance and in whom a kind of balance could be held between the faculty of the old spiritual perception and that of material perception, of the new intellectual thinking. Very many among them were still able to look into the spiritual world. This faculty of vision — which had already degenerated and become, as we should say nowadays, a lower astral clairvoyance had in its character a certain effect upon the general evolution of mankind. That this lower form of clairvoyance produces a very definite type of human being, a definite trait of character in those endowed with it, was clearly evident in these people. It was innate in them to demand from surrounding Nature what they needed for their sustenance while expending the minimum of effort themselves. They knew that divine-spiritual Beings are present in the plants, the animals, and so on, because they actually beheld them; they knew that these Beings are the powers behind all physical creation. But this knowledge prompted them to demand that without any effort on their own part the divine-spiritual Beings by whom they had been placed in existence should provide for their sustenance. Many things could be quoted as expressions of the disposition and tenor of soul prevailing in these peoples with their decadent, astral clairvoyance.
In the period which it is important for us to consider now, all these peoples were nomadic, having no settled habitations; they wandered about as herdsmen, without preference for any particular locality, careless with what the Earth had to offer and only too ready to destroy anything around them when they needed it for their sustenance. These people were not called upon, nor indeed were they qualified, to do anything to raise the level of culture, to transform the Earth.
Thus there arose what is perhaps one of the greatest antitheses in the whole of post-Atlantean evolution: the antithesis between these more northerly peoples and the Iranians. Among the Iranians the longing arose to take a hand in what was going on around them, to live settled lives, to acquire possessions through effort, in other words, to apply man's spiritual forces in order to achieve the transformation of Nature. That was the strongest urge in the Iranians. And in the immediately adjacent lands to the North, lived the people who saw into the spiritual world, were on familiar terms, so to speak, with the spiritual beings, but were wanderers, having no inclination for work and without any interest in furthering culture in the physical world.
This drastic antithesis was purely the outcome of the different forms taken by soul-development. It is also known in external history as the great antithesis between Iran and Turan. But the causes of it are not understood. Actually they are as stated above.
Turan lay to the North, in the area towards Siberia. Its inhabitants, as already said, were people heavily endowed with an inherited, lower astral clairvoyance, and who in consequence of their experience in the spiritual world had neither inclination or sufficient understanding to establish any form of external culture. Because these people were of a passive disposition and their priests were often magicians and sorcerers of an inferior type, whenever spiritual matters were concerned they were wont to engage in very questionable magical practices, indeed not infrequently in actual black magic. To the South lay Iran, where at a very early stage, as we have seen, an urge arose in the people to transform the world of sense with even the most primitive means then available and through the spiritual faculties of man to establish forms of external culture and civilization.
Now you will be able to form an idea of the great antithesis between Iran and Turan. — A beautiful myth — the legend of Djemjid— tells how King Djemjid led his people from the North down towards Iran. He had received from the God who would presently come to be recognized and whom he called Ahura Mazdao, a golden dagger by means of which he was to fulfil his mission on Earth. From the apathetic masses of the Turanians, King Djemjid drew people whom he had specially trained, and in the golden dagger we have to see an impulse for the attainment of wisdom connected with the external faculties of men, wisdom capable of redeeming certain faculties that had already become decadent and of imbuing them with the spiritual force man can acquire on the physical plane. This golden dagger, like a plough, turned the earth into arable land, made possible the first, primitive inventions of mankind. It worked on and is working to this clay in all the achievements of culture and civilization in which men take pride. There is great significance in the fact that King Djemjid who went from Turan down to the Iranian country received this dagger from Ahura Mazdao. It represents a force given to man whereby he can work upon and transform external Nature.
The same Being from whom this golden dagger was received was also the great Inspirer of Zarathustra or Zoroaster, Zerdutsch, the leader of the Iranian people. It was Zarathustra who in primeval times — soon after the Atlantean catastrophe — instilled the impulses he was able to bring from the holy Mysteries into the people who felt the urge to apply the power of the human spirit to external culture. Zarathustra was to give new hopes, new vistas of the spiritual world to this people who no longer possessed the ancient Atlantean vision. He opened out the path along which the people were ultimately to realise that the outer sunlight is only the external body of a sublime spiritual Being whom he called Ahura Mazdao, the ‘great’ Aura, in contrast to the 'little' aura of man. Zarathustra wanted to convey that this same Being — then still in remote cosmic distances — would one day descend to the Earth in order to unite His very substance with the Earth and to work on further in the history and evolution of humanity. Thus Zarathustra directed the minds of these people to the same Being who lived later on in history as the Christ. 2See Appendix I, p. 233.
The mighty achievement of Zarathustra consisted in this: to the new post-Atlantean humanity who had fallen away from the divine worlds, he revealed the path of re-ascent to the spiritual and gave to men the hope of being able to reach the goal, even with forces that had descended to the level of the physical plane. Whereas the ancient Indian attained to the spiritual in its old form through Yoga-training, a new path was to be opened out to men through the teaching of Zarathustra.
Zarathustra had a. patron — a figure of great significance. But here I must emphasize that thc date of the Zarathustra of whom I am speaking was said, even by the Greeks, to have been five thousand years before the Trojan War; He is not, therefore, the figure whom external history calls by that name, nor the Zarathustra mentioned as living in the days of Darius. — The original Zarathustra had a patron who can be called Gushnasp — the name that became customary later on. Zarathustra was a majestic, priestly character, one who pointed to the great Sun Spirit, Ahura Mazdao, the Being who guides humanity back from the physical to the spiritual, and Gushnasp was a kingly character, ready to perform any action in the external world that would spread the mighty inspirations of Zarathustra. Hence the inspirations and aims of Zarathustra and Gushnasp that were taking effect in ancient Iran inevitably came into contact with the conditions prevailing immediately to thc North. And the result of the impact was one of the greatest wars ever fought in the world, a war of which little is said in external history because it took place in such a remote past. It was a conflict of the greatest possible magnitude, between Iran and Turan. And out of this war — which lasted, not for decades but for centuries — there developed a certain mood and attitude of soul that persisted for a long time in Asia and the nature of which can be described somewhat as follows:
The Iranians, the followers of Zarathustra, spoke to this effect: Wherever we look there is a world that descended from divine-spiritual heights but has now fallen very far from its earlier level. We must assume that the world of animals, plants and minerals around us once existed at a higher level and that it has all become decadent. But man has the hope of being able to lead it upwards again.
We will now further translate into words of our language what an Iranian felt, and try to convey how a teacher would have spoken to his pupils. He might have said: Think of the wolf. The animal living as the physical wolf you now see has fallen from its former estate, has become decadent. Formerly it did not manifest its bad qualities. But if good qualities germinate in you and you combine them with your spiritual powers, you can tame this animal; you can instill into it your own good qualities, making the wolf into a docile dog who serves you! In the wolf and the dog you have two beings characterizing as it were two great streams of forces in the world. — And so men who used their spiritual faculties to work upon the surrounding world were able to tame the animals, to raise them to a higher level, whereas the others left the animals as they were, with the result that they descended to lower and lower stages of existence.
Here were two different forces, the one being applied by men whose attitude was as follows: If I leave Nature as she is, she sinks lower and lower; everything becomes wild. But I can direct my eyes of spirit to a good Power in whom I trust; then that Power will help me and I shall be able to lead up-wards again what is in danger of sinking. This Power gives me hope that further development is possible! — The Iranian conceived this Power to be Ahura Mazdao and he said to himself: Man can ennoble and sublimate the forces of Nature when he unites himself with Ahura Mazdao, with the power of Ormuzd. Ormuzd represents,an upward-flowing stream. But if man leaves Nature as she is, he will see everything degenerating into a wild state. This is due to Ahriman — And now the following mood developed in the regions of Iran. Men said: North of us live many who are in Ahriman's service. They are the Ahriman-folk who wander about the world and take what Nature gives them, who will do nothing to spiritualise Nature. We, however, will unite ourselves with with Ahura Mazdao!
Thus men became aware of duality in. the world. The Iranians, the people of Zarathustra, felt this duality and desired so to organise their life that the urge towards a higher form of existence should come to expression in their laws. This was the outer consequence of Zoroastrianism and herein we must see the contrast between Iran and Turan. The war of which occult history gives so many and such detailed accounts, the war between Ardshasp and Guslinasp — the former being the King of the Turanians and the latter the patron of Zarathustra — is an expression of the antithesis between the North and the South, between the men living in the two regions of Turan and Iran. If we grasp this, we shall perceive a current of soul-life flowing from Zarathustra to the whole of the humanity upon whom his influence was exercised.
To begin with, then, it was necessary to describe the whole milieu, the whole environment into which Zarathustra was placed. We know from earlier lectures 3E.g. Deeper Secrets of Human History in the Light of the Gospel of St. Matthew, Lecture II. (Obtainable from Rudolf Steiner Press.) that the Individuality who incarnated into the bloods that flowed from Abraham through three times fourteen generations and who appeared as Jesus of Nazareth of whom the Gospel of St. Matthew tells, was Zarathustra, the Individuality who had been Zarathustra. It was therefore necessary to look for him where he is first to be found, in the very early post-Atlantean epoch. And now the question arises: Why was it that the blood that flowed from Abraham in Western Asia through the generations was the blood best fitted for a later embodiment of Zarathustra? (For in one of his incarnations Zarathustra was Jesus of Nazareth.)
In order to approach this question it was necessary, in the first place, to ask about the central figure — the Zarathustra-Individuality — who incarnated into the blood of the Hebrew people. Tomorrow we shall have to consider why it was necessarily this blood, this particular racial stock, from which Zarathustra derived his body as Jesus of Nazareth.