Where and How Does One Find the Spirit?
V. Bible and Wisdom II
14 November 1908, Berlin
The last talk should suggest with a few lines that spiritual science can investigate the deeper profundities and the truth of the biblical documents and that it can read that in the right sense again which is written in this document. With some simple lines should be shown how concerning the Bible such a right penetration is possible into the deeper sense of the Bible in a quite unexpected way and how it can lead many human beings to a recapture of this document of humankind. What could be said in the last talk about the position of our newer time, about its research, its criticism, its worldview compared with the Old Testament someone can also say concerning the New Testament. In addition, here we are able again to point to the fact that in the seventeenth, eighteenth centuries a criticism started which has analysed and cut the Gospel to pieces, a document of such an immense significance for countless human beings for centuries, and attacked its bases. One would have to tell a long story if one paid attention to this biblical criticism of the New Testament in detail. How could it be different, because since that time, after the invention of the art of printing, the Bible has come to all hands, and with it, the materialistic thinking got out of control! How could it happen other than that people recognised clearer and clearer that there are contradictions in the Gospels?
For example, you need only compare the genealogies of Jesus in the Matthew Gospel and the Luke Gospel, if one adheres to the external letter of the matter, and you find that already the first chapters of both Gospels are contradictory. Not only that Luke and Matthew differently give the ancestors; also, the names do not comply. If you compare the single facts of the life of Jesus, you can find contradictions everywhere. In particular, people realise how extremely the first three evangelists, the writers of the Matthew, Mark, and Luke Gospels, on one side, and the writer of the fourth so-called John Gospel, on the other side, contradict. The result was that one tried to produce an accordance of the first three Gospels in a certain way. One believed to find that these three evangelists — even if they differ from each other in many details — give a picture of Jesus which is attractive to the whole view and to all ways of thinking of a newer time, at least to many personalities of our time.
However, many people realised long-since concerning the fourth evangelist that there cannot be talk of a historical document at all. Not only that the writer of the John Gospel, who completely brings the facts differently grouped, above all, concerning the miracles that he describes quite differently; it also becomes apparent that his whole standpoint towards the centre of the whole world history is different. This sight has developed more and more. If we want — we cannot go into the details — to turn again to the sense of this research, it is approximately this that one says that the three Gospels could give the image of the superior Jesus, the founder of the Gospel, if one considers them as portrayals of the brilliant time. The fourth Gospel is a confessional document, a kind of hymn of that which the writer wanted to show concerning his faith in the crucified Jesus. He wanted to give no story, but a teaching writing.
In particular, in the nineteenth century, this view settled in the souls of numerous people more and more due to the so-called Tübingen School, which the great Bible scholar, the brilliant Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792–1860) led. Baur's view is approximately this: the John Gospel is late; it was written very late whereas the other evangelists wrote earlier, still after certain reports of those who, perhaps, themselves had experienced or come to know it from persons who had witnessed the story in Palestine. However, the John Gospel originated only in the second century. Not from the original story, but influenced by the Greek philosophy and by that which had already appeared in the Christian communities, it were written, so that John created a picture of Christ Jesus, which could uplift the human beings in such a way that it is lyrical in certain ways. It teaches how one began to think and to feel like a Christian up to the second century, however, it was no longer able to inform about the events in the beginning of our era.
Indeed, there were also souls who vindicated the opposite viewpoint. If one must say on the other side that Christian Baur and his students proceeded with tremendously critical astuteness, nevertheless, we are not allowed to forget a biblical scholar like the historian and academic Gförer (August Friedrich G., 1803–1861) who asserts that the Gospel is due to the apostle John himself. With diligence he shows how just this Gospel shows almost in each sentence that an eyewitness wrote it or that somebody who had received his message from eyewitnesses wrote it. Gförer goes so far that he says in his Swabian way that anybody who cannot believe in the fact that the Gospel is due to John is out of his mind. He is also out of sorts with those who say that it is not historical and who bear down on this Gospel with all possible arguments.
The question that interests here is this: did really research, history cause this view in spite of all astuteness, in spite of all scholarship, which is never denied a moment? — Someone who can thoroughly explore not only the outside of history, but is able to immerse with his thinking and feeling, and with his whole view in the mental undergrounds of human development, notices something else. It was not only the historical sense, it was not only the so-called objective research, but they were the ways of thinking of the newer time, the beloved views that were spread more and more since the last century.
They did not accept that the confidence and the ideas of the figure of Christ Jesus survived which prevailed for centuries, that not only a superior being was included in Jesus of Nazareth, but a universal being, a spiritual-divine being that is not only related to the whole humanity but to the whole development of the world generally. The confidence and the idea got lost that this spiritual-divine being worked in the mortal body of Jesus of Nazareth, and that we face a unique event there. This contradicts the ways of thinking so much that they had to be directed against such confidence. The critical research slipped in unconsciously to justify what the habitual ways of thinking wanted for the time being. More and more the sense came up, which could not endure that anything topped the normal human-personal, the sense that says to itself, yes, there have been great human beings in the world evolution: Socrates, Plato, or others. Indeed, we have to admit that Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest. Nevertheless, we must remain within this human level. — The fact that something could have lived in Jesus that one can compare to the normal human being contradicts the materialistic mental images, which settled down more and more. We can see this sense slipping in unconsciously and combining with that which the so-called historical research ascertained.
Why did the first three evangelists become more and more the respected ones and the writer of the John Gospel the mere lyricist and confessional writer? Because they could say to themselves, the three evangelists, the Synoptics, describe an ideal human figure that does not top the human level, even if Jesus is an elevated one. It flatters the modern sense if one says what a modern theologian said: if we subtract everything supersensible and spiritual from Jesus of Nazareth, if we take the simple man of Nazareth, we are closest to Jesus.
That is not possible with the John Gospel. It immediately begins with the words: “In the beginning the Word already was. The word was in God's presence,” before a material world existed. What there was in the spiritual primeval grounds became flesh; it walked around in Palestine in the beginning of our calendar. — The writer of the John Gospel applies the highest wisdom to understand this event and to bring it to understanding. In view of this matter, it is not appropriate to speak of the simple man of Nazareth. Hence, he was never allowed to deal with a historical document. These are not only scientific reasons, it is the development of the usual thoughts, emotions and sensations which have found their expression in that which the Bible criticism of the New Testament and the historical research claim today to have the unconditional or at least relative authority of these matters.
However, there emerges another question from spiritual science. Let us position ourselves really on the ground on which some new researchers have positioned themselves. The ones wanted to portray an event that took place in the beginning of our calendar. They added mythical and legendary aspects. Assume that we positioned ourselves on this ground. There we must ask ourselves, is it yet possible to speak about Christianity as such under these conditions? Is it possible to speak about Christianity if we understand the documents, which tell about this Christianity, purely materialistically? Is it possible to behave towards the whole Bible in such a way? — Two things should be stated at first that prove that the question cannot be put different than it was put, and that it can be answered in outlines. Let us assume that Christian Baur's view is right that something took place in Palestine that one has to explain as the external historical, and that in the course of time the writers delivered that out of the prejudices of their time to the future generations what was in them. Let us assume that we have to presuppose such a research while we believe in the descent of a spiritual being from spiritual spheres that lived in Jesus of Nazareth, resurrected, won the victory of life over death — what we regard as the real essence of the Mystery of Golgotha. One has to break this doctrine, Baur says. One considers this view as a dogmatic one. This view must be cancelled. One has to investigate an event in Palestine like another historical event.
Is it then possible to speak generally in the true sense of the word of Christianity, of the Bible as such a work which reports what has to appear? On the other hand, I would like to point to two facts. What is the first big and enclosing effect of the Christian worldview based on, an effect that nobody can deny? What is the sermon of Paul based on? Is it based on the interpretations of the Gospels by a new sober research? Never Paul's strength is based on an announcement of that which is to be exhausted by the means of history. Paul's whole efficacy is based on an event that you can understand only from supersensible, never from sensuous causes. Someone who checks Paul's writings sees that his whole teaching is based simply on the fact that he could win the conviction and the experience that Christ has risen, and that in the Mystery of Golgotha the life in spirit carried off the victory over death.
Wherefrom does Paul take his conviction of the true nature of Christ Jesus? He does not take it, as for example the others who were round Christ Jesus, from an immediate instruction. He takes it, as you all know, from the event by Damascus. He takes it from this fact and he could say, I have seen Him who lived, suffered, and died in Palestine, I have seen Him living. — Paul means nothing but that he has seen Christ in spirit and has won the truth from the spiritual view that Christ lives. He announces Christ, whom he got to know in his spiritual view. In addition, he equates this appearance to the other phenomena, because he says to us, after death, Christ appeared to various persons, to the twelve disciples and others, and in the end to me as a mistimed birth. — With it, he thinks that he really beheld Him in a higher view, who carried off the victory over death, and that he knows since that time that Christ lives for someone who rises in the spiritual world.
Here we already stand concerning the New Testament where the new spiritual science must separate from any only literal view of the Bible. What do you find as a rule in the writings of the so-called new research about the event of Damascus? Saul became Paul in an ecstatic condition, a condition into which one cannot look really. This escapes from the human research. Yes, it escapes from the external human research. We have emphasised this so often in spiritual science that the human being — what we can learn in the following talks — can ascend to the knowledge of a higher world which is round him in such a way, as the colours and the light are around a blind person. The human being can behold this higher world as the operated blind-born can learn to see colours and light. This takes place by the spiritual-scientific methods in the soul of the true pupil of spiritual science and enables him to behold into the spiritual worlds, to behold what is there. What takes place with this pupil, what every pupil can bear witness today and at all time, that took place with Paul. He received it: to hear with ears which are not sensuous ears to see with eyes, which are not sensuous eyes. Then he could also perceive Him who lived in Jesus of Nazareth. So Paul's whole strength extends into the supersensible realm. If you take the whole Paul as he is, you can say, what he said is set aglow by “Christ was raised. Hence, our faith is not futile” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
If one goes just into the effects of Paul's sermons how he spread that form of Christianity, which went through the world, then one can never say, it does not depend on going back to any supersensible facts to investigate the facts about Jesus. One says that one must apply the usual scientific forms. Then one forgets not only the original facts in Palestine not only that which happened during 33 years, but also what happened for the dissemination of Christianity. One forgets that it is based on a supersensible event, and that this supersensible event is to be understood at first.
However, in quite similar way we also find if we consider the matters only seriously and really that the Old Testament, at least its most important document, the Law, is based on something similar. We find that the whole mission of Moses, the whole strength of Moses by which he provided big services to his people is also based on a supersensible event. We had to say the day before yesterday that if the spiritual researcher develops higher, so that he becomes sighted in the spiritual world and is able to behold into the spiritual undergrounds of the things that he can survey the facts of the spiritual world in pictures, in imaginations. Yes, you can express the processes, which happen in you if you ascend to the spiritual fields, only in pictures, however, you must get clear that somebody who speaks in such pictures does not want to speak about the pictures as those, but thinks that one has these pictures as expressions of his supersensible experience.
The supersensible experience by which Moses got his mission was clearly described in the phenomenon of the burning bush. There we see Moses, the leader of the people, facing his God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who issued the order to Moses to act for his people what we find happening then as the action of Moses. While we use this, we already face a basic issue of the whole Bible, namely the question: how have we generally to position ourselves in order to penetrate deeper into this document to these two supersensible facts, which make any merely external research impossible? How have we to behave to this basic issue of the Bible in the spiritual-scientific sense? We can penetrate if we bring the contents of the revelation or the experience of Moses home to ourselves.
The most important traits are only cited. Moses faces the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God gives him the order at the same time to lead the people from Egypt, to increase it to a certain size and to teach it a certain attitude.
If then Moses wants to have something by which he can exculpate himself before the people, so that he can say who he is and who sends him, God reveals his name: “I am the I-am.” Nobody can understand the word who is not able to go into the whole sense and the being of old naming. Old naming is unlike the modern naming. Old naming should absolutely express the being of the personality, the being of that who faces us. In “I am the I-am” the being of the God had to express itself in particular who faced Moses, and who calls himself “the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Why does he call himself the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? There is a secret hidden behind it, which must be unravelled. We can unravel it only if we move up to it with the help of spiritual science. We have to emphasise it over and over again at various places that the human being consists of the members of his being, that we only face one part of the human being as the physical body, that we have higher members which are supersensible, which are the real bases, the creative principles. We must add the etheric body or life body, then the astral body and as the fourth the bearer of the ego.
The human being has the physical body in common with the apparently lifeless beings, with the minerals, the etheric body with the plants and all living beings, the astral body with the animals, which can have passions and desires. Because of the ego, the human being towers above all sensuous beings, which surround him. Spiritual science has always recognized these four members of the human being.
We have to point to the physical body that also has its spiritual primal ground and is only condensed from the spiritual. As well as ice originates from water, the physical originated from the spiritual. We must go far back in the view of the spiritual development if we want to look for the first spiritual origins of the physical human body. This fourth member is absolutely the oldest of the human members. Today the physical body is the densest. It emanated from the spirit in the distant past. It has become denser and denser, has experienced some changes, and has thereby taken on its physical figure. This is the oldest in the human being. A younger member is the etheric body or life body. It came later; hence, it is less condensed. The astral body is even younger.
The ego is the youngest member, the bearer of the human self-awareness. All these members originated from spiritual primal grounds and spiritual beings, from divine-spiritual beings. We can say, spiritual science shows that this ego, by which the human being became the modern self-conscious being, immersed in the body. It was composed, before he became an ego-being, of the physical, etheric and astral bodies. The Bible also distinguishes those beings now who are the creators of these three human members. The teaching of Moses speaks about the creator of the human ego, of the creator of the bearer of the human self-awareness. Hence, the Bible also sees in the God who let the ego flow into the human being, so to speak, that God who was the last to come concerning the evolution of the human being. The divine beings, the Elohim, whom we have strictly distinguished from the God Yahveh or Jehovah, are the creators of the physical, etheric and astral bodies. They are exactly distinguished in the Bible from the God appearing last in our evolution, from the Yahveh God, from that who brought the ego to the human being.
If we ask, where does the human being find the being of this God, this youngest of the creative gods about which the Bible starts speaking in the fourth verse of the second chapter of the Genesis? Spiritual science shows that where the human being finds his ego in himself, which differs so substantially, already after its name, from all other beings round us, that he there finds a drop of this divine being in himself. This is no pantheistic teaching, also no explanation of the fact that the human being has to find his God in himself. Asserting this would be like someone who asserts that a drop of water is the same being like the sea — and says: this drop of water is the sea.
If we speak in the sense of spiritual science, we speak about something infinite, comprising, universal that is connected with the earthly development and the other things that belong to this earthly development. In our ego, we find a spark of this God Yahveh as we find the same being in the drop of water as in the sea. Nevertheless, it was a very long way the human development had to cover, while the God Yahveh started forming the human being in such a way that he could grasp the ego consciously. The strength of the ego had to work in the human being already well before, before he got the consciousness of the ego. Moses became the great precursor bringing the consciousness of the human being to the ego. However, these forces work and form in the human evolution already long before. They form in such a way that we can recognise their way if we deal with the evolution of the human consciousness itself.
Let us look somewhat back in the development of the human consciousness. One uses the word development very often today, but as drastically, as intensely as spiritual science takes the word development seriously, it is the case with no other science. This human consciousness, as it is today, developed from other forms of consciousness. If we go back far to the origin of the human being, not in the sense of materialistic science, but in such a way, as I have explained it the day before yesterday, then we find that the human consciousness appears more and more different, the farther we go back. The consciousness that connects the various intellectual concepts, the external sensory perception in the known way originated firstly, even if in the far-off past, but it originated firstly. We can find a condition of the consciousness at that time, which was completely different from today because memory was completely different in particular. The memory of the modern human being is only a dilapidated rest of an old soul force, which existed quite differently. In old times when the human being did not yet have the inferring force of his today's mind, when he was not yet able to count in the today's sense, when he had not yet developed his intellectual logic, he had another soul force for it: he had developed a universal memory. This had to decrease, had to withdraw, so that at its cost our today's mind could develop. This is generally the way of development that a force takes a backseat, so that the other can appear. Memory is a decreasing force; mind and reason are increasing soul forces.
For those who hear these talks already for some years, it cannot be something especially miraculous what I say now. For the others it will seem absurd if one speaks about the nature of memory in the following way. What is the appearance of the human memory? It is that which remembers yesterday, the day before yesterday and so on, until the childhood. Then, however, it discontinues once. The memory did not stop in old far-off past, not in childhood, not even at birth; but like the modern human being remembers what he himself has experienced in his personal life, the prehistoric human being remembered what his father, his grandfather had experienced through whole generations. Memory was a soul force through generations that extended really. For centuries, memory survived in the old far-off past, and another kind of naming was connected with the different formation of memory.
We come to the question now: why is talk of individuals in the first chapters of the Bible who become hundreds of years old like Adam, Noah? Because it makes no sense to limit these human beings. Memory reached through generations up to the primal father. One gave this whole generation one name. It would have made no sense to give the name Adam to a single person. Thus, in those days one gave the name to that which remembered, holding on the same recollection, for centuries from generation to generation — Adam, Noah. What was this? It was that which goes through father, son and grandson, but maintained recollection. So faithfully, the biblical document maintains these secrets, which one can understand only with the help of spiritual science.
If we look at the consciousness of the ego with which we comprehend the being of the Yahveh God, we see that the ego lives in us between birth and death, and that it maintains its kind between birth and death. Thus, the ego maintained for generations at that time, for centuries. As we speak today about the ego and know that it goes back as far as we can remember, the human being of primeval times said to himself: it makes no sense to call myself an ego. I recall my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
His ego went through generations, and it had even a name. As we find an expression of God in our personal ego if we become engrossed in this ego, the ancient human being said to himself, looking up through the generations: God who lives in the ego lives for generations, — as a divinity which then Moses recognised in the higher worlds. The God was the same who lived as an ego from generation to generation in ancient times. One declared as ego, in the parlance of the past, what reproduced as an expression of the Yahveh God, with the Yahveh word “I am the I-am.” Moses learnt to recognise this in his spiritual revelation. In contemplating the burning bush this was revealed for the first time. The same God once lived from generation to generation, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was the force, which lived in the memory and brought everything at the same time that founded the human order. Thus, we look up at the predecessors of Moses. In the biblical sense, we look up at the patriarchs, at those, in whom the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived.
These times needed no external commandments, no external laws. For that lived on with the lively memory, quite different from ours, which one had to do. According to what did one act in these primeval times? If you understand the Bible correctly, you find that the human beings did not act after commandments. One acted after that which memory said to one, what the father, the grandfather et cetera had done. With his blood, the human being got the direction to that which he had to do. In these ancient generations was something like a spiritualised instinct that one can compare with “acting instinctively” as we call it today. Not after a commandment the ancient human being acted, no, he acted after the character of his being, after his type. How did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob act? They acted in such a way as the blood running through generations induced them. They had brought down the God Yahveh with their egos, whether they waged war whether they lived in peace. They had no commandments; they had no law. The spiritualised instinct of God lived in them.
At the time when Moses appeared, the human personality was on the first level of its development. There its consciousness broke away from this common generational consciousness. There the generational memory had already stopped quite thoroughly. There one did no longer have the spiritualised instinct of action. There something else had to replace it. The God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob — who in his spiritual physical figure gave Moses the law, the commandments because one did no longer have the spiritualised instinct — had to regulate the external order, the social living together by commandments, by laws. It is the same God who worked before as a natural force, who is now efficient as legislator to found the external order with laws. We see that it has a deep sense to read the words at this point: the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob. The God who calls himself the God “I am the I-am” is the same as the fourth member of the human being, the same who let flow the ego into the human being. However, the human beings could not take up the spiritual nature of the ego in their consciousness. A longer preparation was necessary to it, and this takes place at the time, which is portrayed in the Bible as the Old Testament, at the time of Moses up to the Mystery of Golgotha. Hence, this time is a time of promise, which the new Gospel shows, the beginning of the “time of fulfilment.” The God announces himself to Moses as the “I am the I-am.”
He announces himself in such a way that he orders the external order of the human beings, their living together by laws indirectly by Moses's vision. Humankind lived this way in the pre-Christian time in which the God was creating, in which the Yahveh God was forming, in which the “I am the I-am” lived, in which, however, humankind could not yet live consciously but according to the external law coming from the Yahveh God. More and more the time approached when humankind should become completely aware of the ego. For the whole antiquity, there was only one means for the human beings who could not yet behold, could not yet face God in the physical world. There was only one way how this God could become effective for them. This was the law, the order. This applied to the external world.
Moreover, there was a supersensible way to get to know this God, and these were the mysteries or initiation. What was initiation? Everything that was delivered to certain personalities which were regarded as suitable to apply the methods of spiritual-scientific research to develop the forces and abilities slumbering in the human being, so that they could behold into the spiritual world. Hence, for the confessors of the Old Testament it would be in such a way to behold God spiritually from face to face who lives in the “I-am.” If they applied this method, they were able to see and to hear with spiritual eyes and ears independently what Moses had seen, when the God, the “I-am” gave him his mission. Only in the mysteries, only by initiation this was possible.
However, there were also those who recognised the “I am the I-am,” but they had to go through the procedures, the methods with which the human being is transformed into an instrument of the higher vision, the vision in the spiritual world. So the God who already lived in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was concealed to the physical world. He ordered the world by law. To the initiate, the secret of the mysteries becomes visible in thinking. Then the time came when the Mystery of Golgotha should take place. What happened there, actually? Imagine what the initiate experienced in the old times. Only sketchily, I can describe the process of initiation by meditation, concentration and the other exercises. The soul of the neophyte was prepared for a long time. Then the processes of initiation were finished during three and a half days. There the sages of initiation prepared the neophyte prepared so far, so that he was transported to a state in which his physical body was completely sleeping. It was not only sleeping but it was like dead, so that the neophyte could not use his physical senses, his physical eyes, and ears. For it, however, he beheld with the organs of his spiritual members into the spiritual worlds. He could perceive there if he was outside his body if he was not connected with the physical organs. Then he could behold what lived invisibly in him as the “I am the I-am;” but he could behold it only in the depths of the mysteries. Then he was awoken — as everybody knows who has experienced these things — in his physical body and used the physical senses again. Now he had the full consciousness: I am the I-am, I was in the spiritual world. What has spoken to Moses, the “I am the I-am” faced me, and it is that which refuses eternity to me, which has entered my body. I was connected with it. I was connected with the divine primal bearer of the I-am whose reflection is my I-am.
Thus, the initiate returned to the physical world and bore witness of the fact that something spiritual exists in the ego, because he had beheld it. He could give his listeners news and message of it. However, one could only behold the “I am the I-am” in the spiritual world. By the event of Golgotha, the same being descended to the human beings who had announced himself by Moses in the burning bush with the words “I am the I-am.” This complies completely with the sense of the John Gospel: the ego became flesh in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, lived in it, and walked around among the human beings. This primal force brought the human being to the height on which he stands today. The primal force became a human being; the human being became a divine being and walked around among the human beings. It was possible that on Golgotha that took place as a historical event within the evolution of humankind, which the initiates could behold only in spirit: the fact that the Christ-being carried off the victory over the death of matter.
This is the historical-external-real fact, which the initiates often experienced in the mysteries. This was the course of initiation in the ancient times in the deep darkness of the mysteries with those who left their physical bodies for three and a half days, walked around in the spiritual world and recognised that a spiritual-divine being descends into the physical world, and that this event would take place once as a historical fact. This was the course of initiation. However, the time came now when humankind came to the event of Golgotha turning emotions, sensations, and thoughts to it by faith.
Then the understanding originated from it. It was something new. One got as something external that one could have, otherwise, only by the rapture in the spiritual world. If one assumes this in such a way, we understand why Christ Jesus says: I am the I-am in a completely new figure. He says, look back at the primeval times, at that which lived as the everlasting in the human being that lived in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that made known itself then in the Law of Moses. Now the time has come when the ego becomes aware in the single person, when the human being has to become aware in his ego, in the divine living in him.
If it was in the old times in such a way that the human being looked up at the God that he beheld and could say to himself: what lives in me lives for generations, — it is now in such a way that he finds the divine in his ego if he beholds into himself. The divine from which any ego originated was embodied in Jesus of Nazareth, and someone understood this who wrote: In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God was the word. — By these words, the being of the innermost human nature and at the same time the primary source of this innermost being is meant. He lets Christ Jesus say, what lives in me a spark of which is in every human being existed before the Gospel was. — The significant sentence in the John Gospel was “Before Abraham was, I am.” — Before Abraham was, the “I-am” was, this I-am which is not bound to any time which was before Abraham, was already in the spiritual primeval grounds of the human being. While he calls himself the primary source of this I-am, Christ spoke the significant words: “Before Abraham was, the I-am was.”
Therefore, we realise how the sense of human development, which flows through these fundamental books of humankind, the Old and the New Testaments, is brought back to life again by spiritual science. In addition, we realise how to us the most important words become readable first if we fathom the sense of these books, regardless of the words, with the help of spiritual science. I give an example that gives something to think to the materialistic sense. I would like to remind you of the resurrection of Lazarus. There such a man like Gförer says: who asserts that the John Gospel is not written by John, helps himself saying, the writer wrote down a lot, as he experienced and understood it, but the Lazarus miracle must have been told to him. He cannot have been present.
One must understand the Lazarus miracle only correctly. Let us understand it in such a way that Christ when he entered the world took on the body of Jesus of Nazareth. Let us believe, however, that that which prepared in the Old Testaments became expression in the New Testament. He had to have somebody who could understand him completely, who could penetrate in the deepest sense into what he could announce, and that means that he had to initiate a person in his way.
Initiation stories are told to us secretly at all times. The Lazarus miracle is nothing else than the miraculous and tremendous representation how Christ created the first initiate of the New Testament. Christ waked up Lazarus as an initiate recalled the soul of his pupil to the body who was for three and a half days in a state similar to death, after he had walked around in the spiritual world. Someone can simply see through all that who understands something of it, because it is the language in which generally initiation stories are told. “This illness is not to end in death; through it God's glory is to be revealed and the Son of God is glorified” (John 11:4). This means: external appearance as revelation of the inside; so that one has to translate the sentence in truth: “The illness is not to end in death, but that the God manifests as an external appearance, so that He can also be revealed to the senses.”
In Lazarus slumbers the deeper human being who has the ability and the strength that it could be developed in mysterious way in him, could be led up in the spiritual world, so that he could recognise the being of Christ, the Son of God. However, this strength had to develop first. Christ Jesus developed it in Lazarus, so that the divine that rested in Lazarus could be revealed, and could reveal the Son of God. Christ Jesus created in Lazarus the first to know from own inner observation who Christ Jesus is real. At the same time, this miracle shows — because it is to someone a real miracle who wants to accept the external physical principles only — what the pupil concerned has to go through during the three and a half days. Because this can be compared to a real death since the etheric and the astral bodies are raised out of the physical body and only the physical body lies there.
Thus, we have understood even such a miraculous event like the Lazarus miracle — miraculous only to anyone who cannot explain it out of spiritual science. All that reveals itself to you in the Lazarus miracle if you have the light only, which illuminates it with the words: “His illness is not to end in death but to reveal the inside.” — If these abilities are woken in the human being, it is like a birth. As a child arises from the womb, the higher is born by the lower human being. In the same way, the illness of Lazarus is connected with the birth of the new life, of the divine human being, so that the divine human being is born in the physical human being, in Lazarus.
So we could go through the John Gospel step by step and would experience that that which happens in the spiritual initiation had to be described quite different from that which we see in ancient times when with quite different spiritual powers the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is working. If we look into the Bible in such a way, then it is the high universal book again, which lets shine to us what we have now found ourselves. While we must admit — we can say this — that only someone who has developed the higher spiritual forces can come to this truth, we have also to admit and say — if it faces us in the John Gospel — what brought it in these writings. While a new spiritual researcher approached the Gospel and the whole Bible, he learnt to see this and can say: the human beings will come to the true value of this document and recognise that only a materialistic prejudice can speak the words: “the simple man of Nazareth.” However, because of true knowledge we have recognised Christ as an overwhelming world being living in the body of Jesus of Nazareth.
The first three Gospels appear to us in relation to the John Gospel possibly, as if three persons stand grouped on a slope of a mountain and every reports what he sees. Everybody sees a part. Someone who looks down from the higher vantage point surveys more and portrays more from this higher vantage point. We come to know not only what the others below describe, but also what can make the three understandable at the same time. That is why it is not difficult to say, who stood on the higher vantage point, but for us it is in such a way that the first three writers were also initiates in certain respects. However, the deep initiate, who could write much deeper, could look much deeper than the three others could and about the true spiritual facts of the matters, which lie behind the sensuous, this is the writer of the John Gospel. So the Gospels combine harmoniously and show that the Mystery of Golgotha cannot be understood as a usual historical event, but is only explicable by a process as we find it with Paul, who says: “the life I now live is not my life, but the life Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). What the external research shows beside becomes also important in the spiritual research. If we look at Christianity, it is important to us to figure the clairvoyance of Moses out which is shown to us in the vision of the burning bush. It is this what one had to explain. I have to emphasise that this new spiritual science is able to form the picture of the world events of its own accord, to look at Christ, so to speak, spiritually from face to face and to find Him again and, hence, to find Him truly in the Gospels. That biblical scholarship is not really without presuppositions, which says, we want to investigate the Bible like any other story.
For it assumes the dogma that there can be only usual, sensuous, natural facts. Only spiritual science is really without presuppositions, and this leads to a renewed recognition and high esteem of the Bible in all its parts. A time will come when maybe those are disgruntled who want to say today that only the simple mind is able to grasp the Bible. This wisdom must misjudge the Bible. The time will come when just the wisest wisdom estimates the highest what is given to us in the Bible because clairvoyance will face clairvoyance in the Bible. Then some word, which is written in the New Testament, appears in a new light. It will become apparent that a document like the Bible can lose nothing by impartial research. It would be sad if any research cut this Bible of its reputation, of its name. A research that cuts the Bible of its name has only not come far enough. Research that goes until the end will show the Bible again in its greatness.
The human being is allowed to do research freely. Who has the view that by research religion could perish shows with it only that his piety stands on weak feet. The divine being put the impulse of research in the human being, so that he is active. It would be a sin against this impulse if one did not live researching. I recognise God by my research. God recognises Himself in my research. Truth is a good in the human development from which the religious life will never have anything to fear. However, this is a basic truth, which penetrates the New Testament completely.
You should not take those into accounts who want to keep away the human beings from the Bible because of comfort, and who say, if you come to philosophers and interpret the Bible, these say, they want to know nothing about it. — However, such a research is based on comfort. However, that research is justified and right which says: we cannot go deeply enough to understand what is written in the Bible. — That research in the Bible is the right one that goes into it in free research and then understands the Bible in the right sense. These researchers understand the truth of the biblical saying: “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).