To a very great extent the form in which Rudolf Steiner elected to publish the results of his spiritual research was commentary rather than expository. Both in the depth of their penetration and in the width of their reach his twelve lectures on the Gospel of St. Matthew present a matchless example of what he could do with this form. They are correspondingly difficult to summarize. The light here shed from a single steady source falls, for instance, on the much-discussed pre-Christian sect of the Essenes and their prophetic understanding of the whole destiny and function of the Hebrew nation; on the two Saviours who were to become one in order that that destiny might be consummated; on a little-known martyr of the first century B.C., Jeschu ben Pandira, and, through him, at once on the hidden truths underlying the mysterious genealogies in the opening chapters of St. Matthew and St. Luke and on the great main stream of oriental religion and philosophy and its true relation to Christianity.
As the course draws towards its close, it turns rather to the mystery of the ‘kingdom’ of the Son of Man and the mental and volitional threshold which human personality must cross in order to realise that kingdom and, in doing so, find its own heaven-born identity.
It has been widely suggested that a more or less conscious quest for personal identity is the positive element that underlies the chaos of modern literature and art. Here the twentieth century could benefit by recalling the outstanding discovery of the nineteenth: that understanding, to be fruitful, must combine with the merely existential a genetic comprehension of its subject. As these lectures unfold before the attentive reader the great Judaeo-Christian drama of the historical emergence, first of racial identity (the familial self-consciousness of the Hebrew nation) and then, as its transformation, of that individual spiritual identity which is pointed to in the Lord's Prayer and more inexorably in the Sermon on the Mount, the numerous points that have hitherto separately caught the light unite into a single flood; and he realises that this is no sporadic commentary on selected texts that he has been studying but one of the great religious documents of all time.