From Limestone to Lucifer
XII. The death, resurrection and ascension of the Christ
9 May 1923, Dornach
Question: Might we hear some more about Jesus Christ as a person?
Rudolf Steiner: You see, gentlemen, the question has been asked at the right moment, and so we'll consider it today. Let me say right away that only those of you who have been coming for some time will understand all of it. The gentlemen who have come for the first time today will need time to find their way into the things we are discussing. The question I have been given and which we are going to discuss concerns the Christ as an individual who lived for 33 years and then died.
Question: 'On this day he rose from the grave, he rose from the dead.' How could this be, and where did this individual gain the might and the power? And then you would perhaps be so kind as to speak of his ascension after 40 days.
As it is just the right time of the year, I am going to speak about it the way it really happened. We have already been considering the other aspects. But, as I said, only those of you who have been coming for some time will fully understand it. The others will also come to understand, I am sure, if we get together here quite a few times.
Now you see, the first thing is that the whole business about the person of the Christ and what happened to him was relatively unknown in the times that followed immediately after the event. You should not think, the way it is generally thought today, that the events connected with the person of Jesus in Palestine became known throughout the world in an instant. That's not how it was. The situation is that at the time when the Christ Jesus went through his destiny there was the Roman Empire, a world empire, and Palestine was part of this powerful Roman Empire.
As you know, we still have a rather unfortunate legacy from the Roman Empire, and that is Roman law, as it is called. You may know that law studies at university take a very long time, for the students have to study Roman law. This had been thought up at a time when social conditions were very different, and so Roman law has of course become something that is no longer suitable in our own time. But justice is still dispensed today according to Roman law.
This, then, is a legacy from Roman times. We have various other things as well; but this one legacy, Roman law as it is called, is something you can all be aware of. Roman rule spread far and wide. Let me give you just a bit of an idea of how far it spread. If this here is Spain, more or less [drawing on the board], this would be Italy. There we have Greece, the Black Sea. Then a lot of small islands. Asia Minor is coming across from here, and over there, more or less in the area I'll mark for you, was the small country called Palestine, with Jerusalem, Nazareth and so on.
Roman rule extended to all these countries. The Romans had gained dominion over all these countries. And so it was a rule that spread far and wide! Rome is about there, of course. Now all government business and so on would be in Rome, a long way away from Palestine of which people in Rome knew extremely little in those days. And for about a hundred years after the events connected with Christ Jesus in Palestine writers in Rome never mentioned them at all. It was only about a hundred years later that people in Rome became aware of what had happened in Palestine. And the way people looked at it in Rome was not much more than just to say: 'Ah well, some unknown person was crucified in Palestine.' To be crucified was more or less the same in those days as being hanged in later times. The affair therefore attracted no particular attention. It was only when those hundred years had passed and Roman rule grew more and more tyrannical, and also more and more luxurious, it emerged that in the meantime, whilst the people of Rome lived their life of luxury, Christianity had spread here [pointing to the board] little by little, and the first thing people noticed in Rome was actually the Christians. What happened to the Christians in Rome was that at first people simply would not tolerate them. If you were a Christian, you were very much persecuted in Rome. And now I must tell you why the Christians were persecuted in Rome, otherwise you would of course be quite unable to understand the way of thinking which in those times led people to say that over yonder, in Palestine, a god had died. There you need to understand the way people thought in the world in those times.
You see, for a Roman in the first Christian century, a time, therefore, when one would have said it was the year — people actually did not say it was that year, for they used the Roman calendar then — but if our calendar had already been in use they would have said it was the year 1, or 10, or, if you like, 50 — so if you had asked a Roman 'Who is God?' at that time, he would have said: 'Augustus', or 'Tiberius'. Just as if you were to ask a Chinese today  'Who is God?', he'd point to the Emperor of China. You have to understand, therefore, that in those days the Romans saw their ruler, the men who governed them, to be their God as well. And the first thing the Romans noticed about the Christians, when they first took note of them, was that the Christians did not believe that a human being here on earth could be a general god. The Romans only knew that someone sitting on the throne, someone who was a mighty ruler, was their god; he was the most sublime and had to be venerated. The Romans did indeed accord their rulers a kind of veneration.
Yes, that is how it was all over the world in those days. Over yonder in the Orient, where the great realms once were — the Persian, Assyrian, Babylonian realms and so on in earlier times — the ruler would always also be the god. 'God' meant simply the one to whom you turned when you were in need of anything. He was the most highly placed. People saw him as a helper. He did not always act as a helper, but people saw him as such.
Let me remind you that you probably also know the way the word 'god' is used in your language. When children are baptized, people have to be their sponsors or godparents. In some areas, I think also here in Switzerland, the sponsors are called 'godfather' and 'godmother'. [The German dialect words are similar to the English ones. Tr.] It means that the sponsors are expected to help the child. This is the same meaning of 'god'. And the god was thus the sponsor for all the world. The name of the German writer Goethe also comes from this.
And the first things people heard about the Christians was that they did not believe that a human being could be a general god on earth. It was something the Romans found unbelievable. Dreadful people who will not accept the emperor as a god! They are dangerous, these people! And the Christians on their part referred to the words: 'Pay the Caesar what is due to the Caesar and pay to God what is due to God.' You can see from those words spoken by Jesus that Caesar and God were separate issues. God is the invisible. God is something which does not dwell in a visible human being on earth. This is what the Christians would say. And that was the big difference between the Romans and Christians. The result was that the Romans considered the Christians to be the most dangerous people in the whole world, people who undermined the power of the state, for they would not offer sacrifices to the emperor in the temple. People would then offer sacrifices to the emperor in the temples. The Christians offered sacrifices to a god who had died in Palestine and could not be seen anywhere. This was something the Romans were unable to grasp.
The early Christians therefore had to hold their offering services below ground, under the earth. And the underground passages they dug, where they buried their dead and made their offerings, are called catacombs. Such catacombs spread far and wide underground in Rome, and in Italy altogether, like small cities. This is where the early Christians held their offering services in the early centuries, whilst the Romans had circuses, vast circuses, above ground. And one of their favourite entertainments in those circuses was to tie people they despised to a stake in some way, to a pillar, cover them with pitch and set fire to them, so that they were burned alive. And people would look at this in their circuses just as people today look at bull fights. It was quite the usual thing in those days.
Now think of this picture. Up above the wild Romans in their circuses, covering people with pitch, tying them to pillars and burning them alive. This was something they enjoyed watching. And below were the Christians, holding their services in the catacombs. The difference, gentlemen, between above and below ground was so great you cannot think of any that would be greater. This is something we have to consider.
It is true, of course, that terrible things were also done by the Inquisition in medieval times. But the Christians never behaved in quite the terrible way the Romans did when their empire was at its height. This is something to be remembered. It is true.
So the first thing you would hear in Rome was: "The Christians refuse to accept a visible god.' Well, it gradually became more widely known what was really meant by this Christ Jesus — I have told you something about this before. I told you, for example, that there were really two Jesus boys — Jesus was a common name in Palestine, and many people were called by it, just like Seppi or Michel today. One of them died young. They were playmates, we might say, extraordinarily able, gifted children.
Now you see the story you all know from the Bible about 12-year-old Jesus teaching the scholars in the temple 56Luke 2:41-52. is based on absolute truth. Now it would not be right for you to say: 'Yes, but if a 12-year-old boy were to come to the university today the academic staff would not hold him in great respect.' One simply cannot compare the teaching of today with the way it was then. You really should not think I am being either conservative or reactionary here; I have to give you the facts as they are.
You know, we do of course have to send our children to school today. And gifted children in particular learn a great deal there that does not suit them at all. One should put things in such a way — and that is what we do in our Waldorf school — that they suit the children. But in general children are learning a great deal that does not suit them at all. Adults are of course much better at these things which do not suit the children at all. But, gentlemen, people fail to realize today what is taken away from the children when they learn to read and write in the way they do today.
If you know how to listen to them, children will tell you extraordinarily interesting things. They have brought these with them from their life in the spirit before they came down to earth. And this one Jesus child brought extraordinarily much with him. And as the two Jesus boys were playmates they would basically always both know the same things. One of them then died. And the Gospels speak of only one Jesus child because that was more what people wanted to hear. But this does not help us to understand the Gospels. If you read the Gospel of Matthew today and the Gospel of Luke, they do not agree. The whole genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is different from that given in the Gospel of Luke. Why? Well, because these things really refer to two Jesus boys.
As I told you, I have truly spent years on considering this matter from the spiritual point of view. I have found that there were two Jesus children, and the Jesus boy in Matthew's Gospel was a different child from the one in Luke's Gospel.
One of them died in his twelfth year, while the other remained behind. And where the Gospel says: 'Jesus gained in wisdom, spirit and power', this refers only to the one.
You see, I had discovered the fact that there were two Jesus children long before that. One did not know if there was any historical record of there being two Jesus children. And then one day we saw a painting in northern Italy 57Painting by Borgognone in St Ambrogio Church in Milan. It shows the scene in the temple where Jesus taught the scripture experts. And oddly enough, there you have this second Jesus child. He is walking off. One who teaches, and the other one who is walking off — that is not the usual Jesus child — we know him! So the painting shows two Jesus children. We are thus able to say that in some centuries people still knew that a second Jesus child existed. He went away. It was only when I had discovered this fact that I knew that this second Jesus was shown in the painting. So you see, gentlemen, that this was known for centuries. But the Church would never let such things, which are in accord with the truth, raise their head.
Now, as I told you, there simply are some things in human life where illumination comes, as we say. People won't accept this, of course. But you see, one can indeed speak of such instances of illumination, for they simply do happen. Let me give you an example that was given to me by a member only yesterday. I could give you hundreds of examples, but let me tell you this, the latest one. Mr Pfeiffer — I hope I have your permission?
Kekule 58Kekule von Stradonitz, Friedrich August (1829-96), German chemist, professor at Ghent and Bonn Universities. was a renowned chemist, a proper scientist who wrote many books on chemistry. Two discoveries he made are very important. I need not go into them here, for that would take hours and it is not what matters to us. These two important aspects of chemistry have to do with the nature of the smallest particles that make up substances such as benzene. Kekule's views on this play an extraordinarily important role in chemistry. Anyone who knows about chemistry knows that everyone is talking of Kekule's theories.
But how did Kekule himself experience this? He told of an occasion when he was in London, living quite a long way outside the city — he had not yet developed his theories then — and how he always had to take a bus to the other end of London at night. He would visit a friend in the evenings, and he then always had to go such a long way because he spent the night there. One day he was on his way home, having talked for a long time about chemical things with this friend, who was also a chemist. He was going home and was sitting on the top deck of the bus, on the outside. He was dozing off, beginning to fall asleep. And as he was about to fall asleep on the bus he dreamt: There's one atom, there's another, there a third atom; and there are little atoms, and they are held together by the big ones [drawing on the board]. He dreamt of the way matter is made up. He dreamt all this up on top of the bus. He made careful notes of it as soon as he got home. This was one of his theories. You see, it came to him in a dream. It was given to him, a completely materialistic theory.
His second theory is called the benzene theory. He
dreamt it at another time, not in London this time, but when
he had dozed off somewhere else.59Ehrenfried Pfeiffer gave Rudolf Steiner part of Gustav
Schultz's report on the German Chemical Society's celebrations
held in Berlin in 1890 in honour of Kekule's
birthday. The two incidents August Kekule described are
'When I was in London I was staying in Clapham Road, near the Common, for some time. But I would often spend my evenings with my friend Hugo Muller in Islington, which is on the opposite side of that vast city. We would talk about all kinds of things, and most of all about our beloved chemistry. On a beautiful summer's day I was once again taking the last bus through the streets, now empty, of the normally busy cosmopolitan city; outside, on the top of the bus, as ever. I fell into a dream. Then the atoms were dancing before my eyes. I had always seen those tiny entities in motion, in my mind's eye, but had never been able to get a feeling of the way they moved. On that occasion I saw how two would often make a pair, two larger ones would encompass two smaller ones, even larger ones take hold of three or even four of the smallest, with everything in a whirling dance. I saw larger ones in a row, with smaller ones dragged along just at the end of the chain. I saw the things Mr Kopp, our doyen and my much revered teacher and friend was later to describe so charmingly in his 'molecular world', but I saw it long before he did. The conductor's shout 'Clapham Road' woke me from my dreams, but I spent part of the night to record at least sketches of those dream configurations. That is how structural theory developed.
'It was much the same with the benzene theory. In Ghent, in Belgium, I stayed in elegant bachelor's rooms in the main street. My study looked out on a narrow side street, however, and did not get any light during the day — no drawback for a chemist who spends his daytime hours in a laboratory. So I would sit there working on my textbook; but I was making little progress, for my mind was on quite other things. I turned my chair to face the fireplace and fell half asleep. Again the atoms danced before my eyes. Smaller groups kept modestly in the background this time. The mind's eye, grown more acute following repeated visions of this kind, then distinguished larger structures in many different configurations. Long rows, often held more tightly together; everything in motion, twisting and turning like serpents. And look — what was that? One of the serpents took hold of its own tail; derisively the structure whirled about in front of my eyes. I woke as though from a flash of lightning; again I spent part of the night to work out the consequences of the hypothesis.' Well, gentlemen, you see, a completely materialistic chemist had to confess that he did not make his discoveries by thinking things through but was given illumination in a dream. All of it was truly given.
Now I'd like to know why people object when one says that the Jesus who remained behind changed greatly in this thirtieth year. Kekule did not, of course, immediately become a different person, for the inspiration given to him had been a minor one. But knowledge of the whole world entered into Jesus when he was 30 years old. This was perfectly possible in earlier times, and similar things can still happen today. So you just have to consider that Jesus of Nazareth was illuminated in his thirtieth year with everything that is called 'the Christ'. The Christ entered into him, just as the benzene theory entered into Kekule. He then became a completely different person. And people who understood something of this said: 'The Romans have a god on the throne.' 'The god on the throne,' they would say, 'has come into being through the ordinary powers of the earth.' Such gods on thrones do not normally have illumination; at least not as a rule, you know; they did not receive such illumination at the age of 30.
Now the Christians said: 'Our God has not been put there by human beings; he has been put there by the powers of the universe themselves.'
They also had to say something else, however. You see, the things they said about Jesus at the time were not as indefinite as the things I am telling you now. I have to tell it to you slowly, bit by bit, you see, and this makes it all rather indefinite to begin with. It was more definite then in the following way. You see, today, we have universities so that individual people may grow clever in the way people are considered clever today. Having spent a long time being made clever at a grammar school or secondary school, people go to university. There their cleverness is given its final polish. But you'll not always find that people have become different people at university; they have only learnt things in a superficial way.
That was not the way it was in earlier times. In earlier times people made no difference between churches, theatres and schools. It was all one, and they called it 'the mysteries'. These were the places where people were taught then. And the most important thing they were taught in the mysteries was 'knowledge of the sun', as it was called. You see, when we talked about scientific matters, I always told you that the sun influences everything that happens on earth. Plants do not just grow because they are pushed up out of the soil, but because the sun brings them forth. Sun power is in all of us, just as there is earth power. And I told you that this sun power is not just a dead force, but a living power, full of wisdom. I gave you many examples. You were able to see that the things that happen among animals happen in a way that is full of wisdom, intelligent, sensible. Yes, if you look up to the sun, it is a sphere of gas, scientists will say. Well, gentlemen, that is just about as clever as if we could all of us get on a large plane — we can't do it, of course, but let us assume we could, the way Jules Verne has written about it — and go up to the moon, looking for something to do on the moon. And I'd then say to you: 'Look, gentlemen, down there is the earth. The earth is a body, and there is nothing else on it.' You would not believe me, gentlemen, because you'll have travelled up to the moon with me. You would believe that there are people on the earth, after all. People, who have souls, are on the earth.
But that is exactly what scientists do when it comes to the sun today. They sit here on the earth, look up at the sun and say: 'There is nothing up there but burning gas.' But that is downright nonsense. The sun is inhabited, though perhaps not by the kind of people you can see with your eyes.
In the ancient mysteries, people were mainly given this knowledge of the sun. And because of this, they were called 'sun scholars'. People would say: 'Up there, on the sun, are the powers, the powers of spring, the powers of the sun, the principle which draws everything forth from the earth.' And someone who had learned those secrets of the sun would then be called a sun scholar, and later, when he was fully taught, a sun master. And the knowledge that came suddenly to Jesus of Nazareth in his thirtieth year was this sun wisdom. This sun wisdom had come upon him. Now you have probably seen plants which are a good green colour in the soil, robust plants, go quite white and powerless if they are kept below ground, in a cellar. The sun's power does not enter into them there. In a mystic, spiritual sense, this sun power entered into Jesus. And the people who understood what had happened said: 'Now the Christ has entered into Jesus.'
You see, now this strange thing happened. The Jews, who then lived mainly here, in Palestine [pointing to the blackboard], had long since heard through their prophets that it would have to happen one day that the earth could be taught out of cosmic space itself. But you can be quite sure, if someone somewhere were to write a play like William Tell today, the way Schiller has written it, and it were to be performed on stage, people would say: 'That's baloney, it's quite terrible.' They would not accept it. The play was only accepted by a few people at first, people who knew Schiller. Then it got more widely known. That's the way it is in our society, and always has been, that the majority of people like to take their lead from others. And the Jews, too, took their lead from others and when the event happened, and they were no longer guided by the mysteries but someone came instead who had this sun wisdom, they said: 'Well, really. Here's someone who says everything he says is true.' You know what people do to someone who speaks a truth that has not yet got known among the populace. It was a great truth and great wisdom which Jesus of Nazareth, in whom the Christ now lived, had to tell. Well, they crucified him. And he did indeed go through death.
This now brings me to the question as it was put to me. You see, gentlemen, today's enlightened theologians are perhaps even worse, in most cases, than the unenlightened ones. Unenlightened theologians say: 'Well, they put the Christ in his tomb, and after three days he rose again, flesh and blood, as he had been.' Well, enlightened people would of course say: 'We don't believe that, for no one returns from the grave.' But, I'd say, they do at least have something they are able to profess. It may be debatable, but it is something they are able to profess.
But what do enlightened theologians say? You see, one of the most enlightened theologians, a man who is widely known and often spoken of, is Adolf von Harnack. 60Hamack, Adolf von (1851-1930), German theologian, professor in Berlin from 1888. The passage about the resurrection is in his book Das Wesen des Christentums. Sechzehn Vorlesungen vor Studierenden alter Fakultaten irn Winterseinester 1899/1900 an der Universitdt Berlin, S. 102 (9. Vorlesung), 4. Aufl., Leipzig 1901. And what does he say about the resurrection? You see, Mr Harnack says: 'We cannot tell what happened there on the third day in the Garden at Gethsemane.' This, then, is what an enlightened theologian says: 'We cannot tell what happened there on the third day in the Garden at Gethsemane. Many people did gradually come to believe that the Christ was risen there. That is belief in the Easter story, and we assume that one should hold to this belief.'
You see, I once put this question at the Giordano Bruno Association in Berlin — it was a long time ago now. The chairman was a learned gentleman who thought he knew a great deal about these things. He said: 'Surely Harnack cannot have said that, for where would we be if Harnack were to say that we should not believe in what has really happened but only in what people think about it.' That would be like the story of the robe at Trier 61Trier or Trèves, ancient city on the Moselle river in Germany, close to Luxembourg. where people said: 'Well, we don't know if this is the robe that the Christ actually wore, but so many people believed this, and so we believe it as well.' That is what a Protestant said about Catholic faith in the robe at Trier. Another example are the bones of St Anthony. When they were carefully examined they turned out to be calves' bones. But the people who believed in them did not let this worry them; they said it did not matter if it was true or not but only that people believed it.
It is not that it does not matter, however, but it matters what actually happened. The story is really told in a wonderful way in the Bible, but people do not pay attention to the way it is told. The Bible does not say: such and such a thing happened. It always says: this is what people saw, really saw. This is what the Bible tells.
So the story is that the women went out there and it tells us what they saw at the tomb. You may of course take it to be sophistry, if you like! We are told that the Christ came to the disciples at Emmaus, and so on; that the Christ was seen. This is what the Bible tells us.
Now you'll remember I told you that human beings do not only have this material, physical body which is laid in the grave, but they also have the ether body, astral body and I. I described this to you very exactly. And the physical body of Jesus of Nazareth was indeed put in a tomb. I have considered this question a great deal, and it is extraordinarily significant that the Bible itself tells us that an earthquake happened. Such an earthquake did happen. It made a cleft, and the body was taken up into the earth, so that it truly was no longer there. And the disciples did not see this physical body but the ether body, the supersensible body. The women and the disciples saw the Christ in the ether body, no longer Jesus of Nazareth but the Christ, the transformed inner human being.
Now you have to imagine that what happened there was something extraordinarily grand for the disciples. You just have to imagine that one of you, someone with whom you have come to be good friends, is taken away from you to be crucified, or hanged, as it would be today. You are closely connected with this person — this creates a state of mind. And such a state of mind made the disciples positively clairvoyant for these things. And in those early days they truly saw the Christ over and over again, more often than the Bible tells us. But it was the supersensible Christ.
And you see, if you read the epistles of Paul, you read there of the famous event at Damascus which came to Paul. Near Damascus he went into a kind of sleep state and the Christ appeared to him in the clouds. And now consider how Paul told the story. He once said: 'They cannot take away my faith in the Christ, for like the other apostles I have seen the Christ.'
Paul therefore did not say that the other apostles had seen the Christ in a physical body; for then he would have to say that he, too, had seen the Christ in a physical body. Hi emphatically said that he had seen the Christ in the clouds, and that is the supersensible Christ. In saying that he and the other apostles had seen the Christ, he was indicating that the other apostles saw the Christ in his supersensible body, just as he did. And then, you know, people say this is contradicted by the fact that Thomas had to put his hands on the wounds of the Christ. All this is meant to say, however, is that the Christ was there, and the experience of his presence was so powerful that Thomas himself was able to believe firmly that he had touched him. Everything therefore had to do with the supersensible Christ.
Now you know, the wounds were something that touched the hearts of the disciples, and especially the apostles, most deeply. This would not show itself so clearly if the Gospels did not say that the wounds could be touched. Why the wounds, exactly? Why not put his hands on the face or something else? There he would also have felt that there was something there. But he put his finger on the wounds because the wounds made a particular impression, and it did indeed depend on higher vision what the disciple actually became aware of in the Christ.
We may thus say that for 40 days in succession the disciples knew clearly that the Christ was still there. And this gave rise to the Christian teaching — the original Christian teaching, which is connected with the things I told you last Monday — it gave rise to the Christians saying: 'When the Christ was buried, only the dead body was in the tomb, and it disappeared, of course. The Christ revealed the immortal aspect to us in himself; he went about for 40 days in his immortal aspect. We have seen him. And he even appeared to Paul at a much later time. He is therefore always present.'
And so we can say, even today: 'He is always present.' The disciples no longer saw him after 40 days because their vision lost its power. They then said: 'Now he has gone away from us.' The ascension was an event that did, of course, make the disciples feel very sad. They said: 'Although he died, although his enemies crucified him, he was still among us for 40 days. Now he is no longer among us. Now he has gone back again into the wide expanse of the cosmos.'
And they truly felt sad then. Not the usual kind of sadness, but a profound sadness. And the ten days of which we then read, those ten days were a time when the disciples and apostles turned inwards, looking deep into their hearts, using their inner strength to think of all the things the Christ had said to them. Those ten days were enough for them to be able to say afterwards: 'Yes, we, too, are able to know all this. This wisdom' — they said to themselves under that powerful impression — 'this wisdom is also in us.' And now, after ten days, they felt strong enough also to teach the wisdom to others. The tongues of fire — that is an image of this — came down on to their heads. That was Pentecost, the Pentecost thought, the tongues of fire. In their great sadness, having thought about everything, not being able to see the Christ any more, had made them turn inwards to such effect that they themselves were then able to teach.
And we read the beautiful words that they then began to 'speak in all tongues'. But here we have to understand a little how people put things in earlier times. You should not think, of course, that the apostles started to speak Chinese or Japanese, or even German. What is meant, in the way of saying things they had in those times, is that because of everything they had had in their thoughts in the ten days between the ascension and Pentecost they had grown tolerant. Now they no longer saw differences between religions but spoke of one religion for all human beings. This is what is meant by saying they were able to speak in all tongues; they spoke of one religion for all humanity.
And that is the best of all thoughts for Pentecost — one religion for all humanity. You see, the greatest harm had always come to humanity from fanaticism in religion things, being exclusive in religion, having Christianity and Buddhism and Judaism and all kinds of things. Why is it that there are so many religions? It is because these religions are earth religions, real earth religions.
What do I mean when I say earth religions? Well, you see, there was a time — it is 1923 now — if we go back, for example, to the time when Christ Jesus lived in Palestine, as I have told you, which would be the turning-point of time. Now let us go further back, let us say to the year 3500 before Christ Jesus, to antiquity. At that time, 3000 or 3500 years before Christ, people in Egypt would speak of their god, but they would use the old terms. They would call him Ra, for instance. They would speak of their god, but they would say: 'The god is in the city of Thebes,' for instance, and in the city of Thebes stood a building that had been created with great art, a tomb-like structure. The god lived in there. That was the earliest way of venerating one's god, by saying he was in a particular place.
Well, gentlemen, someone living here where we live today in those early times would probably not have said: 'The god is in Thebes.' Not only would they never have got to that place in those times, but they would not have known anything about it. They really did not know about Thebes. So the people who were down here in Egypt, where the Nile flows, they would say: 'The god lives in Thebes.' And the people who were here, in our part of the world, also had such local gods. There was a local god in Alsace once, for example, or in Munster. People therefore venerated God in a particular place. And it is because of this that we have different religions — the religion of Thebes, the religion of Münster, the religion of Alsace. There the religions got divided up.
And later, when people had moved around more on earth, they could no longer think of God in a particular place, for then they would have contradicted themselves. They had moved to another place, and then they no longer took the place for the god but the individual who led them. And that is how emperors and princes gradually came to be seen as gods. The prince of one nation would be the emperor. Many princes came into existence.
You see, they still had something of this religion in Rome, for the Romans still venerated their emperor as their god.
But what, then, was Christianity? Christianity had nothing of all this. The divine spirit we should venerate is not in a particular place on earth but is connected with the power of the sun, the living nature of the sun which the Christ has taken into himself. And the sun is truly for the whole of humanity. No one in Europe can say, when the sun is shining on his head, that this is a different sun from the one that is there for the Egyptians, or the Chinese, or the Australians. Anyone who truly accepts that the Christ power comes from the sun has to accept the general religion that is for all humanity.
It was the general religion for all humanity, even if people did not always understand this. And the disciples realized very well that the sun religion had come. The way it is put is to say that they were able to speak in all tongues. They were able to speak of a religion of reconciliation, of tolerance for all humanity. That is the Pentecost idea. But, as you know, the Pentecost idea has not yet come to fulfilment today. And it must come to fulfilment. It must be truly understood that the Christ has brought something to this earth that does not depend on any form of teaching at all but is based on a fact.
When European missionaries go to an Indian or a Chinese person today, they ask him to believe what people in Rome say of the Christ. The Indians or the Chinese cannot agree to this, for it is something that has developed in the European situation. But if one were to put it the way I have put it to you today, it could be understood everywhere on earth. For the Pentecost idea is for the whole of humanity.
I have tried now to present the ascension idea to you, as we should take it, and the Pentecost idea. This is what the gentleman who wrote down the question wanted to know. I think it is also very appropriate, for today is the day before Ascension, and Pentecost will follow in ten days' time. I am very glad that I was able to speak about this.
Now I have to go to Norway. I'll ask them to tell you when our next talk will be. Goodbye for now!