Where and How Does One Find the Spirit?
IV. Bible and Wisdom I
12 November 1908, Berlin
There is in our culture certainly no document that has intervened so deeply and so intensively in the whole spiritual life as the Bible. One would have to write a history, not of centuries, but of millennia if one wanted to describe the effect of the Bible on humankind. If one completely wanted to refrain from the influence of this document on the mainstream, one would still find something immeasurable in the Bible concerning the influence and the deep effects on the human soul. Certainly, one may say that just our modern time presents exceptionally many things, because one could show that today not only those who stand on the ground of the Bible are deeply influenced by this human document, but also that those who have turned away from the Bible are subject to its influence. For the Bible is really not only a document, although it is it in the most particular measure, because it fulfils the soul with a sum of images about the world and life giving the soul a worldview, but the Bible was, for millennia, an enormous means of education of the souls.
It has meant something not only to the imagination, and means something to it even today, but it is maybe important and more essential what we must regard as an effect on the emotional life, on the ways of thinking. There we must often admit today that the Bible only developed the emotions, the sensations of those who combat the Bible.
But who looks around only a little at the spiritual life of humankind, in particular at that of our western humankind and that which is connected with it, that will note what an immense reversal has taken place concerning the position of humankind or, at least, of a big part of humankind to the Bible.
Those who stand still firmly on the ground of the Bible today could maybe think too little of that to which is pointed with it. They could say, even if there may be some people who turn away from the Bible who state that the Bible can no longer be that for humankind what it was for millennia, it is presumably only a temporary phenomenon. We believe in the Bible; whatever the gentlemen say who believe to stand on the ground of science, it may seem to them fantastic — we rely on the Bible! One could find this judgment among certain personalities very much common, and it is only a matter of course. For someone who is still able to take the happiness, the certainty and the strength of his soul from the Bible cannot put enough in the balance according to his character against those phenomena that exist around him as criticism and refusal of the Bible.
However, such a judgment would be rather careless. It would be even selfish in a certain way, for the human being — if he pronounces such a judgment — says to himself: the Bible gives me this or that; whether it gives the same to other human beings, I do not care about. — Such a human being does not pay attention to the fact that humankind is a whole. What single human beings experience, think and feel at first flows down into the whole humankind and becomes common property.
Somebody who says, I do not want to hear what the critics and the scholars say about the Bible today, I do not care about it judges only for himself. He does not remember whether also his descendants, whether those human beings who follow him can have the chance to gain such a satisfaction from this document if criticism and science are about to take this document away from humankind. The power of the authorities who are involved in the life of this document is big and strong. It means, actually, to act blind and deaf towards that which goes forward round one if one wants to start only from the just characterised point of view of naive faith, undeterred faith. Today one has to hear what can shake the respect and the meaning of this human document with our fellow men. The shock, the radical changes that took place in the course of the last centuries with reference to this document are enormous.
Still a few centuries ago, the Bible was believed to be something that enjoyed unconditional authority; it was believed to be of higher divine origin. This belief, this assumption is shaken long-since and will be shaken more and more by always new reasons. At first, neither our modern science nor the present natural sciences turned against the old view of the Bible. Already more than hundred years ago, the more materialistic way of thinking — we are allowed to use the expression, because we have often explained it here — considered the Bible from the purely external point of view. We speak about the Old Testament first. For centuries, it was believed to be — like the New Testament — an inspiration of higher powers. It was believed to be written out of a consciousness that could rise to a sphere of truth to which the sensuous consciousness could not rise.
The first to shake this belief in the fact that the Bible was written out of a higher human consciousness, that it is due to another authority than to any authority of a human writer was that one said to oneself: if one reads the Bible, it turns out that it is no uniform document. In the eighteenth century, the French doctor Astruc (Jean A., 1684–1766) wrote, one says, the human beings would have written under the influence of higher powers the chapters of the Bible that we call the history of creation by Moses. However, we read the creation story and find that single parts are not in accordance with each other; we find stylistic and objective contradictions. Hence, we must suppose that not a single author, Moses or anybody else, wrote this document, because somebody who describes the conditions successively as a single person would not bring in inner contradictions.
I can only outline all these contradictions: old documents would be taken from different sides and combined by various authors. These were the first objections against the Bible. We want now to characterise the spirit of this kind of opposition against the spiritual origin of the Bible, apart from that how the things happened.
One sees there how immediately in the beginning in tremendous, overpowering pictures the creation is unrolled. In them, the so-called Six-Day Work is told. One tells further on how within this creation the human being originated, how he came to the sin, how he developed from generation to generation. There one notes that in the first parts, in the first verses, a name is chosen for the divine powers, for God, different from the fourth verse of the second chapter on. One sees there that really these two names of the divine alternate, the Elohim and Yahveh or Jehovah. There somebody must ask himself, should an author have called the divine with two different names? Where from this may come? He says to himself that that or those who put together the document finally found old traditions or also old documents which they interlinked and formed a whole from them. The one may come from this tribe, the other from that tribe, and one interlinked them. This one makes itself noticeable. Starting from this one notes, going on, that similar and other contradictions appear.
Thus, one got around to separating and tearing the original documents in different pieces. If today anybody wanted to put together a Bible from the different pieces and fragments from which one thought that it must be composed, if anybody printed with blue letters everything that one counts among one document, with red letters what among a second, with green letters what among a third and so on, then a strange document would originate. However, it has already come about — the so-called Rainbow Bible!
The ancient, venerable document is there, one would like to say, disassembled in the single pieces from which it should be composed. The Bible is, of course, a document of which one believes, however, to be able to prove that it is due not to Moses, but that parts of it originate from this or that clerical council in relatively late time. Other parts of the Bible are put together from legends and myths that one gathered from here and there from religious views of this or that school. What became a whole this way cannot be believed to be something that was brought into history with a raised human consciousness that is able to behold into the spiritual worlds.
However, nobody is allowed to believe that these both talks, which I have to hold today and on Saturday, are intended to lower any way the diligence and the sedulity of the works just only briefly outlined. To somebody who knows the spiritual means that was used to tear the Bible to small pieces and to explain them, the diligence and the sedulity and the skill of the researchers of all these works become apparent. They appear to him as the most tremendous that was maybe performed in science. In relation to the formal, in relation to the industrious research one cannot find anything comparable. If we look closely at the result of this research performed by modern theologists, so just from those, who due to their profession believe to stand on the ground of Christianity, we must say to ourselves, it must cause another relation to the Bible as it was for centuries. If this research comes to fruition, the Bible — many things had to be discussed to reason it in detail — cannot longer exist as the document that comforts and raises the human beings in the saddest problems of life.
Apart from that, numerous human beings have looked around in the fields of scientific research, in geology, in the developmental history of animals and plants, in the history of civilisation, in anthropology and so on. These human beings are hardly able to conceive anything reading the Bible. One has to be also fair in this respect and not position oneself simply on the ground of naive faith and say that this signifies nothing. They are often those who are the most conscientious ones in their feeling of truth, in their thirst for knowledge. They say to themselves, I see that research standing on firm ground has found
That the earth developed throughout geologic periods,
That the earth developed from a mist of higher temperature to the present form,
That the inanimate develops and from this inanimate the living being,
That everything developed from the simple up to the most complex being, the human being,
That the forms of civilisation ascended to the modern complex forms.
Numerous human beings say, if we see which tremendous geological periods were necessary to receive the earth when it had not yet produced amphibians nor mammals, if we survey all that and open ourselves to that, what shall we to do if the Bible tells us that the world was created within six or seven days? We have no use neither for the creation in six or seven days nor for anything else. Which use are we able to make of the Flood, of the miraculous rescue of Noah if we read that Noah brought so many animals in the ark, and so on? — Thus, it happens that some human beings gifted with dignity and serious sense of truth oppose so sharply and vigorously against the Bible based on the modern scientific viewpoint, in so far as it wants to extent to a worldview. All that exists in our worldview. We are not able to deny all that.
However, there the question arises: does one take all things really into consideration that are to be taken into consideration in relation to the Bible if either the first viewpoint, the historical one, or the second, the physical-historical view is asserted? There one has to say that already the third viewpoint exists in relation to the Bible, a viewpoint that develops from that real research method and human viewpoint that is characterised in these talks as the spiritual-scientific or anthroposophic one. We have to deal with this viewpoint in relation to the Bible today and the day after tomorrow. What a viewpoint is this? One often says today, the human being is not allowed to rely on external authority, he has to approach world and life without presuppositions and to investigate truth, and one believes to insult just the Bible if one takes up such a viewpoint. Does one really insult the Bible with it? One can compare the spiritual-scientific or anthroposophic viewpoint to something that happened to humanity concerning something else, even if less significant, some centuries ago. We come to an understanding of the spiritual-scientific viewpoint concerning the Bible the easiest, if we compare it with the radical changes in relation to the view of the earth.
There we see that all schools, the lower and the higher ones, taught about the external nature in the whole Middle Ages following up old writings, indeed, writings of a great personality, of the old Greek philosopher and naturalist Aristotle. Thus, if you could go back with me to the sites of the spiritual life of the older time, you would find that that was not communicated in the old schools and training centres which was found in laboratories, but which was printed in the books by Aristotle. Aristotle was the authority and his books were the Bible of the natural sciences at that time. Where one only communicated and taught what Aristotle had already said about the matters. Now the times came when a new aurora arose concerning the view of nature, the new way of the physical view of Copernicus, Kepler and Galilei and all the others up to now. What was the basic feature of this aurora? While one had taken before Aristotle as a firm starting point, and spoke about nature as he had spoken, now Copernicus, Kepler and Galilei used their own senses of observation and research. They themselves looked at nature and investigated what life could show them. Thus, they wanted to describe and explain nature according to that which they themselves had seen. There they came into conflict with the teachings of Aristotle's strict believers.
It is more than a mere anecdote, it means the deep truth of a process that happened at that time: one tells that a believer of Aristotle was asked to have a look at a corpse and to observe that it is not right that the nerves go out from the heart — as Aristotle teaches — but from the brain. The believer of Aristotle was persuaded to look at this. Then, however, he said, if I look at this, it seems that nature contradicts Aristotle. However, if nature contradicts Aristotle, I do not trust nature but Aristotle. — Natural sciences faced tradition that way. The view of the researcher was rejected in the light of that which was reproduced and repeated as tradition for centuries. If we read Giordano Bruno's writings, we see the opposition against Aristotle out of the new spirit that tells and explains what the human being himself should see.
We look at the whole matter again differently today. We face the immediate scientific observation and Aristotle differently. We know that a lot of that which was read out from him in the Middle Ages was only an ambiguous interpretation of his writings. Aristotle was a researcher out of the spirit of his time who looked immediately into nature and communicated what he was able to say. If we understand Aristotle correctly, if we can defer to what he said, then he does no longer seem to contradict the immediate scientific observation, as he seemed to contradict at that time. Then we can become his admirers again, because just concerning the origin of the nerves from the heart instead of from the brain, it becomes apparent that he meant something else, namely something that is still correct for our time.
In a quite similar way, the spiritual-scientific research faces not only these documents — the writings by Aristotle — but also the western original document, the Bible. What has happened in relation to the observation and investigation of the external nature since the sixteenth century takes place again in relation to the investigation of the spiritual undergrounds of the world. Out of the spirit of that research, I have characterised in the last three talks, how humankind tries to penetrate again into those worlds that are not discernible by the outer senses. However, they are discernible to the higher developed senses of the human being, to the spiritual senses of the human being with which we can behold also in the spiritual world as we can see with the physical senses in the physical world.
It is not necessary to keep on explaining because I have often enough said that the human being is able to develop the forces in himself that he can perceive not only the sensuous things, but that he can perceive a spiritual world between and behind the sensuous, a spiritual world that is much more real than the sensuous world. With good reason, humankind had forgotten the methods of spiritual research for a while. The big progress, the big conquests in the physical world were done because the instruments were perfected in such a way, as it was the case during the last centuries. However, if one thing extends in the human nature, other abilities take a backseat. That is why we see how during the last centuries the scientific methods blossomed for the external physical world of facts. Never were instruments that are more stupendous invented to pick up the secrets of nature and to investigate her principles. The concerning abilities were extended and perfected tremendously, but those abilities have withdrawn with which the human being is able to behold into in the spiritual world. Hence, it is not surprising that the human being was convinced that the spiritual could also be explained from the material existence.
However, we stand before the dawn of an epoch today when humankind becomes aware again that there are still instruments and tools different from those in the physical and physiological laboratory where they are used so excellently. Indeed, we have to do it with an instrument that differs thoroughly from the other. We deal with the basic and original instrument that we have to see in the human being himself. We get to know the human being by the methods of concentration and meditation in the course of the winter. These are other methods that the human being can apply to his soul and by which he gets around to seeing the environment unlike he has seen it before. He can get around to saying to himself: I am like an operated blind-born who could deny the colours and the light of the world before. — However, the moment had now come that he himself could see. Now he could see that something else is behind that which the senses and the mind perceive. Now he sees into the spiritual things; now he does not know, not hypothetically, by speculative philosophy that the sensuous, the material is only like a compression of the spiritual, that that which we see with the senses relates to something spiritual behind it as ice relates to water. The water is thin, the ice is solid, and somebody who is not able to see the water, but can see the ice would say, there is nothing round the ice. — Somebody, who can see only with the senses, states that there is nothing but sensuous processes, nothing but sensuous events everywhere.
However, we must penetrate into this supersensible field, into these supersensible events, and then we can recognise and explain the spiritual. Who has not developed spiritual ears and eyes sees nothing but compression — like the ice in the water — all over the world, as well as the primordial mother of substance, the spiritual in which the sensuous is only embedded does not appear to him. If the geologist shows us how, for example, a human being could sit on a chair in the universe and could watch how the world has developed: the external sensuous view would be as the natural sciences describe it. Spiritual science has to object nothing to that which natural sciences have to say in the positive sense. However, it becomes apparent to someone who is in the right know of the physical science that before the first forming of the physical the spiritual was there. There it becomes apparent how the progress became only possible because the spiritual helped, and that the spirit is mostly involved in the development.
So this spiritual worldview points to the fact that the human being can make himself the instrument of the investigation of the important bases of the world, and, finally, our view gets around to investigating the spiritual original grounds and beginnings independently. Thus, spiritual science stands there, independently of any document. It says, we do not do research in a document first. We do not do research as it was done once, in the books by Aristotle, we do research in the spiritual world. We adapt ourselves in such a way: what you learn as usual school geometry, the Euclidean geometry, was written down in its first beginnings by Euclid, the great mathematician. Today we can accept it as a document and understand it historically. However, who learns geometry at school today, is he still learning after the elementary book of Euclid? One works, learns, and recognises by the things themselves. If one constructs, for example, a triangle, the internal lawfulness appears to the mind out of the thing itself. Then with that which you have gained in such a way, you can move up to Euclid and recognise what he already wrote in his textbook. Thus, the spiritual scientist does also research, regardless of the books, only with his organs how the world has developed. He finds the development of the world, the development of the earth at that time before the earth crystallised in its present form. He investigates the spiritual processes and finds how at a certain point our mind starts in the earthly existence; he shows that the human being appears first and has not developed from subordinated creatures, but that he was first there as a descendant of spiritual beings.
We can go back to former times when still the spiritual primordial grounds existed. We find the human being connected with these spiritual processes, and only later, the lower creatures develop besides the human being. As well as in the development generally certain things remain behind and other advance, the lower also diverted from the higher. The spiritual researcher knows that spiritual organs can be developed by methods that the spiritual researcher is able to show.
Thus, the spiritual research teaches the origin and evolution of the world according to principles which are independent of any document, only out of own principles, as well as one learns mathematics regardless how it has developed in the course of history. In the same way as the researcher has appropriated knowledge of this wisdom, he approaches the Bible. He looks at the Bible. It becomes apparent now, why there are contradictions in the Bible from the viewpoint of the historical-critical biblical studies as well as from the viewpoint of scientific research. Both viewpoints come from one big error that originated from the fact that one thought generally to be supposed to understand the truth of the Bible from the viewpoints of physical-sensuous perception. One thought that it is possible to approach the Bible with such criteria. One did not yet have the research results of the anthroposophic spiritual science.
I want to show with single examples what I have just said. Spiritual science shows us that we come investigating the earthly creation with the methods of geology et cetera only to a certain point, and that then the human development seems to proceed backwards in the uncertain. Why? The sensuous science, may it hope it ever so much, will never be able to pursue the human being back to the origin, because sensuous science can find the sensuous only. However, the mental and spiritual have led the way of the sensuous in the human being. He was soul first and at even former times, he was spirit, then he descended to the earthly existence. Only as far as the physical life is involved in the descent of the human being in the earthly existence, natural sciences can show this course of development.
We cannot investigate the soul life with the usual forces of the sensuous observation. Geology can also be no guide to us. It gives us the investigation of that which remained behind as sense-perceptible matters. It can only say what one would see if anybody sat on a chair in the universe and saw everything that developed on earth. Spiritual science does not defer to this. However, one must have developed spiritual eyes and ears to see the human being as a spiritual being in primeval times. If one does not have these organs, the soul and the spirit of the human being disappear. However, if one has the spiritual eyes, the sensuous disappears, and the spiritual picture originates. One cannot see this, however, in the same way as the sensuous. One must appropriate quite different concepts of knowledge if one wants to go back to such primeval times. What one sees developing there from the human being when it was only a soul does not appear in sensuous concrete perception as the external sensuous world offers it. This appears to us as pictures. Our consciousness becomes a picture consciousness, an imaginative consciousness by the development of the internal forces of the soul. Then the consciousness is filled with pictures. We see in another condition of consciousness, what has happened at that time, now in pictures. Pictorial is that which goes forward inside of the seer.
The rudiment that still exists of the seer's gift is the dream. However, it is chaotic. The vision of the qualified seer also exists in such pictures, but these pictures correspond to reality. It corresponds to the condition as the physical-sensuous human being can make a distinction whether his mental images correspond to reality or are only fantasy. Who wants to stop with the sentence: “The world is my mental image” and “the external things only stimulate the mental image,” to that I might propose that he should have a piece of glowing iron in his nearness and feel how it burns. Then he has to leave it and feel whether the mere mental picture still burns in such a way. There is just something that makes a distinction between the mere mental picture and that perception that is stimulated by the external object. Hence, one is not allowed to say that the seer lives only in the phantasms. He has just so developed in this field that he can make a distinction what is a mere speculative fiction, or what is a picture of the reality of a spiritual-mental world. The pictures become the means of expression of a spiritual-mental world. If the seer looks with supersensible senses back at times, before there are sensuous objects, the true spiritual beings and events present themselves. The spiritual researcher speaks not about forces that are abstractions, but about real beings. As to him, the spiritual phenomena become truth and beings, and the spiritual world becomes populated again by spiritual beings.
Imagine the primeval development of the human being when a force or being intervened in his evolution, in his whole figure that this being or force differs certainly from other beings who have intervened even earlier. We can trace back the spiritual-mental of the human being who is quite supersensible even further; we can trace back it in even higher spheres where we find even higher beings. If the spiritual researcher approaches the beginning of the Bible, it becomes apparent to him that the pictures are exactly given which show the mental-spiritual in the development of the human being, before he has come into the physical life. The spiritual researcher is able to say to himself — if he finds his own imaginations again in the external documents — that he recognises them as truth. If he goes back now to the times when the human being was connected with the even higher spheres, he has to choose another name for these basic beings, and he finds really that the passages which lead the way of the fourth verse of the second chapter have another name of God. It complies exactly with the results of spiritual research that a new name of God appears from the fourth verse of the second chapter on. Thus, we are as spiritual researcher in the same position in which today an expert of geometry is. He can find geometry out of himself, and then he appreciates the work of Euclid who found the same. Thus, we see the development in the marvellous pictures of the Old Testament, and now something extremely strange appears. The text of the Bible becomes light and clear, as it could not become with the scientific critics.
A researcher said: what the elohim did must be due to a side different from that which comes from Yahveh If anyone wants to apply that seriously, it is weird. We want to try it. Imagine this passage in the Bible: “The serpent which was the most cunning of all creatures the LORD God had made asked the woman: Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat from any tree of the garden (Genesis 3:1)?” If you read “God” instead of “Elohim” or “Yahveh,” it is not translated correctly. It is weird. In the original text you read, “The serpent which was the most cunning of all creatures Yahveh had made.” Where you read, “Is it true that God has forbidden you ... you read “Elohim” in the original text. In the translation, the woman keeps on saying “God.” Then in the eighth verse, one says, “The man and the woman heard the voice of the LORD God.” However, you read in the original text, the voice of the Yahveh God. — Thus, we have now put together the story of the serpent, so that it becomes explicable that those who used the names “Yahveh” or “Elohim” meant different beings. According to the opinion of the Bible critics, this comes from different traditions.
The passage “Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat from any tree in the garden?” comes from the Elohim tradition. — You see, the Bible is really so composed of pieces that even in the middle of the sentences the different traditions are taken together.
If you approach the Bible with spiritual-scientific research, then you recognise that this must also be that way. There is talk of the fourth verse of the second chapter that the world creation goes over from the elohim to the Yahveh God. He is that power which unfolds everything that happens then up to the Fall of Man. Spiritual science shows that Yahveh is that God who speaks within the human being in our ego, he is the I-am. This being of the I-am causes everything that is said from the fourth verse of the second chapter on. This being, Yahveh, who intervenes now, is a being who belongs to a former development, but seceded ... (gap in the transcript). Hence, there is talk of the Yahveh God. However, the serpent knows nothing about Yahveh; therefore, it must turn to that which is of its own substance, up to the moment when this takes place which has just to take place by Yahveh. Only in the eighth verse of the third chapter, the name Yahveh appears again.
Thus, you get the consciousness by spiritual research that the Bible is a document in which nothing is accidental. A modern author may ask himself, why should this God not assume another name? — The ancient initiates do not have these stylistic forms of the modern authors. Where exactly and precisely should be spoken, you cannot talk in any stylistic form. What there is written and what there is omitted has its meaning. If the name Yahveh appears and if it is omitted, this means something highly essential. However, you must carry out the principle to read the Bible extremely exactly. Read the Bible if you have it! Read the Six-Day Work. You find the passage, if you keep on reading from the first verse of the second chapter to the Sabbath, “When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens...” One interprets these verses normally as a hint to the preceding, as if the Seven-Day Work had been told and one still said now, the Seven-Day work was made in such a way. — “This is the story of the heavens and of the earth after their creation,” and then, “When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4).
Who studies the original text, detects the following: The fourth verse of the second chapter does not refer to the preceding, but to the following; even as later — in the chapter after the Fall of Man — “This is the list of Adam's descendants” (Genesis 5:1) refers to the following, to the next generations, to that which originated from Adam. This is said in the same way as: which follows there, “This is the story of the heavens and the earth after their creation” (Genesis 2:4). Here the same Hebrew word is used. Someone who reads exactly knows that the creation of the spiritual world is described from the words “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” to the third verse of the second chapter. Then from the fourth verse of the second chapter on it is said: after the heavens and the earth were created the following is described. It is the most wonderful transition if one understands the matter, from the Six-Day Work to the following. Who gets involved in these matters finds that no better composed book exists than the Bible, in particular its oldest parts. The confidence that one is able to approach the Bible without spiritual research, that one is able to approach it with external documents has dissolved this perfect and harmonious work, so that it seems to be composed of nothing but pieces and fragments.
One also has to follow up on the principle to read the Bible exactly and to have it. One does not have the Bible if one has only the text that suggests what it depends on. One must have the principle to go into the Bible. It is told to us during the fourth day of the Six-Day Work how the sun and moon originate, how the sun and moon cause day and night (Genesis 1:14–18). Already before, however, it was spoken in the Bible of day and night (Genesis 1, 5). One can deduce from that: day and night, which depend on the sun and moon (Genesis 1: 14–18), cannot be meant with “day” and “night,” which do not depend on the sun and moon (Genesis 1: 5). Here one can see a palpable tip where the Bible speaks of the sensuous solar day and the sensuous solar night. These originate due to the rotation of the earth around the sun. However, we can see, where the Bible points beyond this sensuous day to the supersensible, the spiritual.
Those who could investigate the Bible spiritually said always to themselves if anyone has the visionary gift and can find the sense of the Bible in reality, this sense of the Bible must have come also from visionary gift. If we are able — because our soul has put itself in another state of consciousness — to look into the tremendous pictures of the Bible, then we know that the writer must also have been under the inspiration of the spiritual world. We may probably say: the time begins when one should understand more and more that there are four levels to look at the Bible today.
The first level is that of naive faith. It takes the Bible with undeterred certainty and anticipates nothing of the objections that are made against the Bible today.
The second level: these are the clever people, the Bible critics, who find — either by investigating internal contradictions or by the scientific point of view — that the Bible was the primitive legend work of a humankind not yet doing research. They are way beyond the Bible, they do no longer need it, and they attack it from the most different directions and say: it was good for the childish humankind. Now, however, humankind has outgrown the Bible. — These are the clever ones, the freethinkers.
Then there is the third level: the human being outgrows this cleverness. Indeed, the human beings of this level are also freethinkers, but they are way beyond this second point of view; they see symbolic and mythical covers of inner soul experiences in the stories of the Bible — the Old and the New Testaments. You see what the human soul imagines shown in the Bible in symbols in the abstract. Some freethinkers have been forced to this attitude. They had to transform the viewpoint of the freethinker into that of the mythical symbolist.
Then there is the fourth point of view. This is that of spiritual science I have characterised today. The day after tomorrow we follow up on this spiritual-scientific viewpoint. It shows the spiritual facts again in simple descriptions, indeed, in such a way as one can see these spiritual facts in imaginations. These are the facts that are described in the Bible.
Someone who had to leave the naive viewpoint and has become a clever person or maybe a symbolist as researcher may get to the viewpoint on which the spiritual researcher stands, and then he can become able to take the Bible again literally, to take the words literally in a new sense to understand them really.
For centuries, one did not criticise the Bible in reality. The Bible critics have fought against their own imaginary creation, against that which they themselves have made of the Bible. The adversaries of the Bible are such even today; they fight against their own imaginary relation, against that which they believe to understand of it; they do not affect the Bible at all. The Bible can be taken literally, one must only understand the words correctly.
There is a certain tendency today that turns against such a remark: not the letter, the spirit must decide. “The letter kills, the spirit brings back to life,,” and you name it from certain relations of the letters.
I wish we could bring the real Bible letter of the world again as soon as possible. The world would be surprised about the contents of the original text. As something completely new, it will appear to humankind. One is not allowed to peddle the saying around: the letter kills, the spirit brings back to life. It is usually the gentlemen's own spirit that is reflected in the letters (Faust I, v. 578–579). That applies to the symbolist in particular. If he is trivial, he puts something trivial into the symbols; if he is witty, he puts something witty into the symbols. It is with this word like with Goethe's words:
so long as you don't have it,
this: “Die and be transformed!”
you will only be a gloomy guest
on the dark earth.
These words suggest how the human being should come beyond the sensuous view, generally beyond the usual nature. Who would take these words as an instruction to neglect the physical has ignored that the spirit develops bit by bit from the physical. That also applies to the letter and the spirit. You must have the letter first, then you can decipher it, and then you find which the spirit is. Indeed, the letter kills, but it creates the spirit at its death, and this saying corresponds to the other: who does not have it, this “die and be transformed” remains only a gloomy guest on the dark earth.
I could draw your attention only to the criticism of the Bible and to the viewpoints, which spiritual science takes towards the Bible. From the few indications I have given today, you may guess that by the work of spiritual science something like a recapture of the Bible can take place. Spiritual science shall find wisdom, independently from the Bible. However, spiritual science comes and recognises then what flowed into this Bible, and then one experiences what many have experienced out of spiritual science towards the Bible. Some things could elevate them, but the most do no longer make sense to them. Only with the help of spiritual science, the human beings understand what is said with this or that in the Bible. However, there are still other contestable passages, and one comes to the viewpoint to say, in the Bible are passages that contain deep spiritual truth, but something flowed into it that was integrated as something inorganic. — If you go on, you discover something again, and you notice that it was due to you yourselves that you were not far enough to understand the matter. You reach the point to say to yourselves, where I have believed once that the sense of the Bible cannot be maintained compared with science, there I see now: I understand the one that I have to consider the Bible with trust and admiration; I do just not yet understand the other. However, the time comes when I understand it, and I find the viewpoint where I can look into it.
Spiritual science leads to the right appreciation of the Bible. We have spoken about the beginning of the Bible, about the creation from the spiritual-scientific viewpoint. The biblical studies have to go through a crisis. The investigations of spiritual science are coming up to meet them, and in new figure the old light of the Bible shines again to humankind in the future.