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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Gospel of St. Mark
GA 139

The Mark Gospel reveals Christ as a Cosmic Being, giving us a sense of his greatness and power. In this lecture cycle Steiner helps us grasp this aspect of Christ, and, like the Gospel itself, it is an artistic work in its own right.

The ten lectures presented here were given in Basel, Switzerland from the 15th to the 24th of September, 1912. In the Collected Edition of Rudolf Steiner's works, the volume containing the German texts is entitled, Das Markus-Evangelium (Vol. 139 in the Bibliographic Survey, 1961). They were translated from the German by Conrad Mainzer and edited by Stewart C. Easton.

Some Preliminary Remarks
Lecture 1 September 15, 1912
Different perspectives of history in nineteenth century by comparison with earlier centuries. Sudden entry of Oriental literature into Western culture in nineteenth century. General cultural intermingling, Oriental interest in Christianity. New interest in questions that can be answered only out of spiritual science. Opening words of Mark Gospel, how they can be understood. Difference between period before and period after Mystery of Golgotha. Hector and Empedocles of pre-Christian times; Hamlet and Faust of Christian era. How earlier personalities find difficulty in adjusting to life in Christian era. Why such a contrast? Mystery of Golgotha and coming of the Christ between these incarnations. Gospels as revelations from world of hierarchies to world of earth, reaching man through medium of angeloi. The ev-angel or Gospel.
Lecture 2 September 16, 1912
Need to study Bible rightly and to perceive especially its artistic composition. Culmination of Old Testament in books of Maccabees and martyrdom of seven sons of widow. Mingling of Persian and Hebrew element in Zarathustra Jesus-child. Hebrew prophets as former initiates of other peoples; receivers of inspiration, not initiates in Hebrew incarnation. Development of consciousness during course of Old Testament history. Coming of Christ as fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. John the Baptist as divine messenger, last of old prophets, forerunner of Christ. Recognition of John by Jews, recognition of Christ by super-sensible beings. Twelve apostles as reincarnated sons of Mattathias and sons of the widow. Judas Iscariot as Judas Maccabaeus and in unnamed later incarnation. Human evolution as work of art. Christianity as world religion, free from nationalism.
Lecture 3 September 17, 1912
John the Baptist as reincarnated Elijah whose earthly manifestation was Naboth. Elijah as folk-soul of Hebrew people. Baptism by John, its relation to task of Elijah and as preparation for coming of Christ. Continued activity of spirit of Elijah-John after his physical death. Christ among disciples of John. John's later incarnation as Raphael. Hermann Grimm's inability to write biography of Raphael. Increase of bread through Elijah and Christ's “miracle” of loaves and fishes. Contrast between complete incarnation of Christ and incomplete incarnation of Elijah in Naboth. Healings by Christ Jesus, nature of so-called “miracles.” Contrast with healings by physicians trained in Mystery schools. Healings and karma, “forgiveness of sins.” Bible as book for all mankind, not only Christians. How Buddhists and Christians should recognize each other's religions.
Lecture 4 September 18, 1912
The mission of Gautama Buddha and his inspired teaching in India. The work of Socrates in Greece and its influence in the West. Its appeal to reasoning power of his pupils. Contrast between Buddha and Socrates. Socrates occasionally close to Buddha (e.g. in Phaedo); Buddha occasionally close to Socrates. Christ Jesus among his disciples. Example of Parable of the Sower. Difference in his way of speaking to disciples and to the crowd, with its heritage of ancient clairvoyance. Sentient soul heritage in Buddha, consciousness soul anticipation in Socrates, two diverging “comets,” both living in age of mind soul.
Lecture 5 September 19, 1912
Buddha and his predecessor Krishna. Krishna's teachings as occult revelations. Teachings of modern idealist philosophers equally “occult” but conceptual in post-Christian era. In Vedas and Bhagavad Gita Krishna's teachings summarized world perceived by ancient clairvoyance in third cultural epoch before loss of clairvoyance. Buddha's teachings some centuries later show a nostalgia for lost world of Krishna. Buddha looked backward to Krishna, John the Baptist looked forward to Christ.
Lecture 6 September 20, 1912
Absence of time element in Krishna's teachings. Oriental viewpoint of recurrence contrasted with development of mankind through historical epochs. Historical emphasis in Old Testament. Peculiarity of Hebrew conception of history. Development of Hebrew people analogous to development of individual human being. Concept of immortality only in time of Maccabees (“The Old Testament people now grown old but proclaiming eternity of human soul”). Elijah as “soul-seed” of people, reincarnating as John the Baptist and after his death as group soul of Twelve. Christ and his disciples after death of John. The “feeding” of the five thousand and the four thousand. Intermingling of earthly and spiritual in Mark Gospel. Peter's acknowledgment of Christ and its sequel. World historical monologue of Christ Jesus.
Lecture 7 September 21, 1912
Relation between Christ Jesus and the Twelve. Contrast between initiates of other peoples and Hebrew prophets. Disciples' ignorance of initiation, hence difficulty of understanding Mystery of Golgotha. Before Mystery of Golgotha spiritual worlds unable to penetrate into human “I”; hence the “I” could enter spiritual worlds only in initiation when outside body — spiritual ego-force then too strong for physical body, able to enter only damaged or vulnerable bodies, e.g. Achilles' heel, Siegfried and Oedipus. The five wounds of Christ. As result of Mystery of Golgotha possibility now exists to perceive it in imagination and to understand it. This understanding particularly necessary for disciples. Contrast between Yoga and Oriental philosophy, attained through clairvoyance, and Western philosophy. Beginnings of Western philosophy. Pherecydes of Syros as last straggler from clairvoyant period. Thales and other pre-Socratics as transition from clairvoyance to nonclairvoyant thinking and abstract concepts. Empedocles as transitional figure — his “call” answered by a “cry” from Golgotha.
Lecture 8 September 22, 1912
Occult significance of mountain, lake and plain. Transfiguration on mountain. Moses as bearer of initiation streams of other peoples. Hebrew people as gift of God to mankind. Sacrifice of Isaac. Phinehas, grandson of Aaron and his “zeal” for God. His later incarnation as Elijah-Naboth. Moses, Elijah, and Christ as cosmic deity, at Transfiguration. Presence of Peter, James and John at Transfiguration; their inability to understand it. Judas Iscariot and the woman with alabaster flask of ointment. Meaning of the “curse” of the fig tree, “no longer the time of figs.” Bodhi tree of Buddha and the tree of the Cross.
Lecture 9 September 23, 1912
Artistic composition of Mark Gospel, artistic threads that are also occult threads. Christ shown in this Gospel as cosmic being. Three possible levels of understanding of Mystery of Golgotha. Failure of disciples, of Jewish leaders, of Romans. Conversations with Sadducees and scribes regarding higher worlds not understood by disciples. Christ as "Son of David" not recognized by Jews. Pilate and Christ as "king of the Jews." Failure of chosen disciples to accompany Christ as far as Mystery of Golgotha. Recognition by Christ in Gethsemane of his own isolation. Recognition of Christ as Son of David only by blind Bartimaeus. Contrast between Christ working in world and Christ betrayed under cover of darkness. Gradual withdrawal of cosmic Christ from Jesus of Nazareth. Abandonment by the disciples, then by “the young man.” Reappearance of “young man” after Resurrection. How could disciples who fled know truth about Mystery of Golgotha?
Lecture 10 September 24, 1912
Change of attitude among Christians toward Gospels over the centuries. Influence of materialism. Jesus research and Christ research. Necessity of clairvoyance to understand Mystery of Golgotha. Transmission of clairvoyant knowledge from Peter to Mark. Mark's understanding of prospective decadence of humanity through experiences in Egypt. Recapitulation of Egyptian culture in our age. Materialistic science and spiritual science. Failure of humanity to recognize the Son of Man and impulse of cosmic Christ. Son of Man as highest ideal of humanity. How to experience this through Mark Gospel and its artistic composition. Difference in spiritual comprehension between men and women. Mary Magdalene at tomb. How Mystery of Golgotha will be understood and experienced in future. Difference between lives of Buddha and Christ. Unacceptable view of Christ held by official Theosophical Society. Only through impulse from Mystery of Golgotha can Mystery of Golgotha be understood. Primal Word enkindled through Christ. "Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away.”
Notes on the Translation