9 November 1909, Berlin
Reference was made in the last lecture to our proposed study of the Gospels and we explained why we had decided to begin with certain aspects of St. Matthew's Gospel. In the first place it is in this Gospel that the most human side of Christ-Jesus is presented. Secondly, there is given in it a complete survey of events which show how the coming of Christ-Jesus is related to human history. This is a direct indication that this greatest of all phenomena on earth represents the culmination of actual historical events, and it is therefore natural to assume that this particular Gospel brings us face to face with the deeper secrets of the evolution of humanity.
Once again I must emphasise that the things of which we shall now be speaking call for accurate treatment, and that great harm can easily be done to the cause of Spiritual Science by giving to the general public any incomplete or one-sided picture of matters connected with these secrets. All communications should be made with great caution; nor is it too much to expect everyone to have the patience to refrain from attempting to present to himself a complete picture of Christ-Jesus until he has become acquainted with the four aspects revealed by the four Gospels.
In the Gospel of St. Luke we are shown how the two great pre-Christian streams of spiritual life — Zoroastrianism and the stream which reached its pre-Christian culmination in Buddhism — united, in order to pour themselves into the great Christian stream of spiritual life on the earth. The Gospel of St. Matthew is concerned primarily, with a quite different theme, namely, to show how and in what respects the physical entity in which the Zarathustra-Individuality incarnated springs from the ancient Hebrew people. It attempts to set out the part played by the ancient Hebrew people in the whole evolutionary process of mankind. It might easily be imagined that if the Zarathustra-Individuality incarnated in Jesus of Bethlehem, it was simply a matter of the body being born from the Hebrew people, and that this implies nothing more than that Zarathustra was reborn in a body of Hebrew stock. Such a conception would give rise to an entirely misleading picture of the truth.
We must realise more and more clearly the fact that an Individuality as great as Zarathustra uses the body as an instrument. Even if a Being were to come down to the earth out of the highest, even the very highest, divine worlds, and were to incarnate in an unsuitable physical organism, such a Being could make use of that body only to the extent to which it was actually capable of being an instrument. It is for this reason that the mistaken line of thought just referred to would readily lead to misconceptions. That man's bodily organism is the temple of the soul has long ceased to be properly understood. We must always remember what has so often been emphasised among us, namely, that the human Ego dwells within three sheaths, each one of which is more ancient than the Ego itself. The Ego is a being of Earth, the youngest of the members of man's nature. The astral body had its beginning on the Old Moon, the etheric or life-body on the Old Sun, the physical body on Old Saturn. 3These are the recognised names in spiritual science for the p.26 earlier planetary conditions of the Earth. See An Outline of Occult Science. This means that the physical body is the most highly perfected, having four stages of planetary evolution behind it. The physical body has been developed through aeon after aeon until it has become what it is to-day — this perfect instrument in which the human Ego can so unfold that man can be enabled gradually to rise again to the heights of the spirit. If the physical body were as undeveloped as the astral body and the Ego, no evolution on the earth would be possible for man
If you realise the full significance of this, the thought of Zarathustra being born from the Hebrew people can no longer be clouded by any mistaken feeling. The constitution of the ancient Hebrew people had to be just what it was, if it was to provide the body for a being as great as Zarathustra. If we bear in mind that ever since the time when he had been the Teacher of the ancient Persian people, this great being had been developing to ever higher stages, we shall understand that for him a bodily instrument had to be provided from a racial stock whose greatness was commensurate with that of his own being.
An instrument had to be created, fit for Zarathustra. Through all the evolutionary periods of Saturn, Sun, Moon and Earth, have the gods worked at the development of the human physical body. From this we may rightly infer that the more intimate preparation of one particular human body must necessarily have entailed great divine-spiritual labour, in order to produce a human body in the specially constituted form which was to be used at that time by Zarathustra.
To make this possible, the whole history of the ancient Hebrew people had to take the course it did. The Akasha Chronicle reveals that what is set down in the Old Testament conforms entirely with the historical facts. Everything that happened to the ancient Hebrew people had to be directed in such a way that it culminated in the single personality of Jesus of Bethlehem. But to achieve this, very special measures were essential. — It was necessary that from the whole of Post-Atlantean civilisation, faculties of the highest quality should be extracted, which would enable mankind to develop powers in place of the old clairvoyant gifts. It was the Hebrew people which was chosen for this task, to the end that it might provide a bodily constitution which, right into the most delicate vessels of the brain, was so organised that what we call knowledge of the world might evolve, free from the influences of the old clairvoyance. — This was to be the mission of the ancient Hebrew people. And in Abraham, the progenitor of this people, such an Individuality was chosen, that out of his bodily constitution, a suitable instrument might be fashioned for the development of reasoned thinking. 4“Discursive thinking” would be an alternative translation p.27 of das urteilende Denken, the expression used by Rudolf Steiner here. “Discursive as opposed to intuitive cognition, is attained by a series of inferences rather than by direct insight.” (Runes: Dictionary of Philosophy, 4th ed. New York, 1942). All previous thinking of any significance was still subject to the influences of the old clairvoyance. But now a personality was chosen because he possessed the brain most capable of withstanding the inrush and coercion of clairvoyant Imaginations and Intuitions, and was destined to acquire knowledge of the things of the world purely by the process of reason. This required a specially constituted brain, and the personality chosen because he possessed such a brain, was Abram, or Abraham.
That the path of Abraham's journeyings led westwards from beyond the river Euphrates right up to Canaan, also tallies with what the Akasha Chronicle reveals. Abraham went forth, as the Bible tells us, from Ur in Chaldea. Whereas the aftermath of the ancient, shadowy clairvoyance was still in active operation in Egyptian, as well as in Chaldean-Babylonian civilisation, there was chosen from among the Chaldeans an individual who no longer worked by means of these faculties, but by observing the phenomena of the external world. This was to be the introduction of that form of culture whose fruits are to this very day implicit in the whole of the cultural life and civilisation of the West. Constructive reasoning and mathematical logic were both introduced through Abraham. Even until far into the Middle Ages he was regarded in a certain sense as the founder of arithmetic. The fundamental trend and character of his thinking led to observation of the world according to the relationships of measure and number. (See Appendix I, p. 72)
A personality so constituted was able, by his very nature, to enter into living relationship with that Divinity who was to reveal himself through the medium of external phenomena. All other Divinities, with the exception of Jahve or Jehovah, proclaimed themselves in the inmost depths of the human soul, and to acquire any knowledge of them man had to awaken in his soul the faculties of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. The men of ancient India gazed at the rising sun, at the different kingdoms of the earth, at the processes manifesting in air and ocean, but regarded all this as a great Illusion, as “Maya”, in which they would have found nothing of a divine nature, had they not first acquired knowledge of the divine through inner Imagination, and then, afterwards, had proceeded to relate this knowledge to the phenomena of the external world. It must be realised that even Zarathustra could not have taught as he did of the mighty Sun-Being had not Ahura Mazdao in his glory been inwardly revealed to him. This is especially apparent in the case of the Egyptian divinities, who were first experienced in the inmost depths of the soul and only afterwards related to the things of the external world. All that applies to the Divinities of pre-Hebraic times must be understood in this way.
Jahve, however, is the Divine Being who gazes down upon men from outside, who comes to men from outside, manifesting Himself in wind and weather. When man penetrates to the relationships of number, measure and weight inhering in the things of the visible world, he draws near to the God Jahve. — In earlier times the process was reversed. Brahma was recognised, first, in the inmost depths of the soul and only from that experience did man find his way into the outer world. Jahve is recognised first in the outer world and only afterwards can his reality also be confirmed in man's inmost being. This is the spiritual aspect of what is called in the Bible: Jahve's covenant with Abraham. Abraham was a man who possessed the faculty to grasp and comprehend the nature of Jahve. Abraham's bodily constitution was such that he could recognise Jahve or Jehovah as the God who lives and moves in the outer phenomena of the universe.
It was now a matter of deriving from the particular faculties possessed by the individual man Abraham, the mission of a whole people. Abraham's spiritual constitution had to be transmitted to others. But this spiritual constitution is bound up with the physical instrument; whatever is to be brought to outward expression depends upon the physical body being organised in a definite and specific way. In the ancient religions, built up as they were on the foundation of shadowy clairvoyance, the particular formation of the various parts of the brain was not of such essential importance. Understanding of Jehovah, however, was fundamentally bound up with the constitution of the physical brain. Only by way of physical heredity, within a people linked by blood-relationship, could such faculties and qualities be transmitted.
Very special measures were necessary for the achievement of this end. Abraham must have descendants who would carry to further stages of development that unique physical organism which until then had been the work of the gods and which had come to its most perfect expression in Abraham. The elaboration of the physical, bodily constitution was now to be taken in hand by man independently and that which for long ages had been the work of the gods be led by man to further stages. That this process must extend over many generations is self-evident. A brain capable of understanding Jahve had to be preserved through physical heredity. Jahve's covenant with Abraham had also to pass on to his descendants. This, however, called for the uttermost devotion to Jahve on the part of Abraham; for it is possible to develop a particular organism to further stages only if it is used in conformity with the purpose for which it was originally created. If, with a certain aim in view, it is desirable that the hands, for example, shall be made particularly skilful, this can only be achieved by developing them in accordance with their own inherent character. If the physical qualities of the brain had to be developed to the point where comprehension of Jahve was possible, then devotion to and understanding of Jahve must have reached in Abraham the highest conceivable degree of intensity.
That was exactly what happened, as the Bible relates. Self-sacrifice is supreme when a man offers up all that the future holds in store for his own self. Abraham is called upon to sacrifice his son Isaac to Jahve. Therewith he would have sacrificed the whole Hebrew people, all that he himself was, and all that had to be brought, through him, into the world. Abraham was the very first human being who truly understood Jahve, in that he knew that if he desired to give proof of the fulness of his devotion, he must surrender himself utterly to Jahve. Through offering his only son, however, Abraham renounced the propagation of his line in the world. But so complete was his devotion that with full resolve, he offered up Isaac.
Then Isaac was restored to him. What does this signify? It signifies something of supreme importance. Abraham receives Isaac back at the hand of Jahve. This brings to Abraham the realisation that the mission that is his by virtue of his own Individuality he will not pass on to posterity through his own deed, but he is to receive it in the person of his son as a gift of Jahve. 5This point, that the Hebrew heritage was not a matter merely p.32 of natural descent, but of divine choice and gift, is developed by St. Paul from a somewhat different view-point in >Romans IX, 8. “It is not the children of the flesh (Ishmael) that are children of God, but the children of the promise (Isaac) are reckoned for a seed.” Cp. also Romans IV, 13-21. Anyone who ponders this deeply will realise that here we have a fact of cosmic significance, whereby immeasurable light is shed upon the secrets of the historical evolution of humanity.
Now let us consider how events proceed. — Through Abraham's devotion to Jahve was made possible the right development of that which had hitherto been the work of the gods, namely the physical nature of humanity which had come into being out of the universe. As we know, the physical bodily constitution of man on the earth is connected, according to number, measure and weight, with all the laws governing the world of the stars. Out of the world of the stars man is born; in his very being he embodies the laws of that world. These laws had, as it were, to be inscribed into the blood flowing down from Abraham through the generations of the ancient Hebrew people. In this people everything must be so regulated as to ensure the continuance of the stream of ordered law which, flowing from the universe, has organised the human physical body according to the principles of number, measure and weight prevailing in the constellations. Again this is indicated in an utterance in the Bible, which is completely mistranslated. “I will make thy seed as the stars of heaven.” 6Genesis XXII, 17. The meaning of the words is in no wise that God will make the Israelites as numerous as the stars of heaven, but that the way in which this people multiply and spread on the earth shall be governed by the laws and number-relationships prevailing in the ordering of the stars in heaven. The propagation of the Hebrew people was to be regulated in accordance with the number-harmonies of the stars.
We can see how this comes to pass. Isaac has two sons, Jacob and Esau. We see how all that was carried by the blood through the generations develops, — the blood of the line of Esau having been cut out and the main stream separated from it. Again, Jacob has twelve sons, corresponding to the twelve signs of the Zodiac through which the sun passes in the heavens, thus fulfilling the inner principle of the starry laws. Thus the number and measure prevailing in the heavens are factually portrayed to us in the life and descent, through their generations, of the Hebrew people.
Again, Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac, and thereby he received back his whole mission at the hand of Jahve. A ram or lamb is sacrificed in place of Isaac. This signifies something of the greatest profundity. The human corporality which was to propagate itself through the generations and which possessed the faculties necessary for comprehending the world according to number and measure, by mathematical logic — this human corporality was to be preserved intact and received back as the gift of Jahve. But in order that the intrinsic nature of this bodily constitution should remain pure and unalloyed, it was necessary that all old, shadowy clairvoyance, all Imaginations and Intuitions, all inflowing revelations such as had poured into the other ancient religions, including those of Chaldea and Egypt, should be renounced. Every gift from the spiritual world must be renounced. The last gift from the spiritual world, the one gift remaining after all the others have dimmed, is denoted in mystical symbolism by the Ram. The two horns of the ram symbolise the sacrifice of the two-petalled lotus-flower. 7In his book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment, p. 131 ff, Rudolf Steiner speaks of the “lotus-flowers” as organs in the astral body connected with the development of supersensible perception. He points out that the name “lotus-flower” is only a traditional metaphorical designation. These organs are also known in technical esoteric language as “wheels ” or “chakrams.” The last clairvoyant gift is sacrificed, the others having already been laid aside in earlier times In order that this bodily constitution might be preserved in Isaac, the last clairvoyant gift, the gift of the ram, the two-petalled lotus-flower is sacrificed.
As the mission of the Hebrew people progresses, these Abrahamitic faculties are transmitted from generation to generation. Whenever the old clairvoyance reappears as an atavistic element, whenever any individual sees once more into the spiritual world, the immediate reaction is that he is cast out from his people, he is not tolerated within the community. Antipathy against this gift of the ram expresses itself in direct hostility. This is exemplified in the enmity meted out to Joseph. Prophetic illuminations from the spiritual world come to Joseph in his dreams. Quite naturally he is thrust out from his people, because the gift he possesses is not in keeping with their mission, because a heritage of ancient clairvoyance appears again in him. Such is the profound meaning of the story here narrated.
On the other hand we see that something essential for the development of the Hebrew people and the fulfilment of their mission is in turn provided through Joseph, that is, through the very personality in whom was preserved a heritage which the Hebrew people could only regard as belonging to the age before Abraham. In a certain sense the gate to the world, from which, through the old shadowy clairvoyance, the ancient Indian and Persian civilisations had received their religions, was closed against the Hebrew people. That gate being closed, they now looked out into the world, classified it according to measure and number, and in its all-embracing unity they beheld Jahve or Jehovah. One thing more they knew, and that was that the visible world they beheld around them and which found its unity as being entirely the creation of Jehovah, was of the same nature as the Egohood of mankind.
But within this race-community, no Imaginations, no inner, personal experiences arose regarding these things. At that time this people themselves had no such inner experiences. Therefore it was necessary that they should be taught from outside, that they should learn from a people who still had these experiences. And so Joseph forms the link between the ancient Hebrew people and the Egyptians, the people from whom could be learnt those things of which the ancient Hebrews themselves had no longer actual experience. The whole picture which a man to-day is able to form out of his own inner experiences, the knowledge and experience derived from the outer world and from inner imagination — this had to be acquired at that time by contacting a people in whom such experiences still abounded — the Egyptian people. Harmony had to be established between inner faculties of this nature and what was acquired by the ancient Hebrews through mathematical logic and reasoning. But contact with the Egyptian people could be initiated only by a personality who himself possessed in some measure this faculty of Imagination. Joseph was the appropriate link because he still possessed this faculty.
There were two reasons why he could be of help to the Egyptians. — Firstly, he was gifted with the old clairvoyance belonging to the age before Abraham, and this enabled him to understand and interpret what the ancient Egyptians obtained through their clairvoyance. But what the Egyptian people did not possess was the faculty of mathematical logic — that is to say, they were not able to apply their powers of Imagination to physical life. Hence Pharaoh was incapable of effective action when unprecedented events befell. Imaginations were accessible, but when unprecedented factors occurred, to weigh up and assess intelligently what steps were necessary and to take appropriate measures, required a different faculty, which the Egyptians did not possess. Because Joseph possessed this faculty he was able to give the right counsels at the Egyptian court and so became the appropriate personality to form the link between the Hebrew people and the Egyptians. In this way, through him the Jahve-doctrine — which until then might be described as a synthesis of outer reality in the form of a mathematical world-picture — received colour and substance from the inner faculty of Imagination possessed by the Egyptians.
The actual harmonising and unification of the ancient Egyptian clairvoyant experiences with the Hebrew experience of the outer world-order was effected by Moses. 8This role of Moses is indicated in his traditional representation as having two ram's horns springing from his forehead. Once this had been achieved, the Hebrew people could be led back again and proceed to work out, in their own way and in accordance with their own nature, what had been acquired in Egypt — though not in the form of actual experiences. For it was essential, as we have seen, that their particular gift should not be mingled with that of any other people, that the quality inherent in their own blood should remain pure and unadulterated. At the same time, the fruits of the spiritual experience of the ancient world had also to be preserved; and so the ancient heritage which still survived in the wisdom of the Egyptians was inculcated, through Moses, into the Hebrew people with their faculties of mathematical logic. Then this people had again to be extricated from that relationship, for they were destined to inherit that new faculty which could operate only through the descendants of Abraham.
It was because in the course of their history the blood of this people was regulated in strict accordance with its initial principles, because they developed, as they did, in this direction, through their successive generations, that it became possible at a certain definite point of time that there should issue from their stock the body of the Jesus-child, (See Appendix II, p. 75) into which the personality of Zarathustra could incarnate. But in order to achieve this goal the ancient Hebrew people had to grow strong and powerful.
If in the light of St. Matthew's Gospel we study the times of the Judges and Kings and follow the destinies of the ancient Hebrews, we shall see that even the circumstances which seem to indicate that this people is going astray, were for a definite purpose. Above all was it necessary that the misfortune of being led into captivity in Babylon should befall them. We shall see that their racial qualities had developed to the point when it was necessary that they should be brought into contact with the other side of the ancient tradition, as it existed in Babylon. The Hebrew people had reached sufficient maturity to be united once again with faculties that had been abandoned. — That is one side of the picture.
The other side is that at the very time when the Hebrew people were brought into contact with the Babylonians a great Teacher from the East was working there, with the result that it was possible for some of the best among the Hebrews to receive the illumination of his teaching This was the time when Zarathustra — in the person of Nazarathos or Zaratas — was teaching in the regions whither the Hebrews were led. Some of the greatest of the Prophets came under his influence. In this way it became possible to inculcate into the Hebrew people what was needed when their blood had already reached a certain stage of development, and influences from outside were required.
We shall not go very far wrong if we compare this whole racial evolution with the gradual growth of the individual human being. When a child is born, it remains until its seventh year in the bodily care of the parents. During this period, the influences that affect it are mainly at the physical level. Then begins the phase inaugurated by the birth — in a real sense — of the etheric body. Development is based on the elaboration of the memory, on which depends the healthy growth of all the possibilities of the etheric body. The beginning of the third period may be described by saying that the human being now enters into relation with the external world through his astral body, at which stage he must acquire the faculty of individual judgment. — The ancient Hebrew people passed through these phases of development in a special way. The first period — from Abraham to the time of the early Kings — may be compared with the first period of the life of the individual human being up to the seventh year. Everything that then happened was for the purpose of establishing in them the particular qualities of their blood. Abraham's journeyings, the development of the twelve tribes, the introduction of the Mosaic laws, the perils in the desert — all these happenings can be compared with what flows into the human being on the physical plane during the first seven years of life. Then comes the second period: the inner consolidation of the race, the rulership of the Kings up to the time of the captivity in Babylon. — Then follows the third stage, when the influence of Chaldean wisdom is brought to bear upon the Hebrews. And the Leader, through whom at that time-600 to 550 B.C. — was released the inflow of this oriental influence into the Hebrew people, was none other than the Individuality who in ancient Persia had been Zarathustra. Thus already at the time of the Babylonian captivity Zarathustra was preparing the way that would lead to the finding of a suitable bodily organism. So down the generations from Abraham onwards there developed more and more the requisite conditions for the birth of the bodily organism in which Zarathustra could reincarnate.
The threefold grouping indicated in the genealogy at the beginning of St. Matthew's Gospel gives a wonderfully faithful picture of this evolutionary process. There are three times 14 generations. “From Abraham to David, 14 generations; from David to the time of the Babylonian captivity, 14 generations; from the Babylonian capitivity to Christ-Jesus, 14 generations.” (St. Matthew I. 17) There are three times 14, that is, 42 generations. This is an indication that the bodily constitution of Jesus is an embodiment of the purest extract of all that had been in preparation from Abraham downwards, through all the vicissitudes and destinies undergone by the ancient Hebrew people. Finally a human being must appear, who in his soul and in his deeds will express all the qualities matured in the race, in his individual personality. The whole development of the Hebrew people from the time of Abraham was to reach its culmination in a single man — in the Jesus of St. Matthew's Gospel.
Such a culmination can be reached only if the whole course of preceding development is recapitulated in a spiritual way. Zarathustra goes forthin a spiritual sense from the Mysteries — from Ur of the Chaldees, the same region whence Abraham had been called. It is there that the “Golden Star” first appears, and then goes forth, followed by the Magi of the land. What had come to pass physically through Abraham is now re-enacted spiritually. The star which the Magi follow moves in spiritual fashion along the path once travelled by Abraham. The star taking this path and coming to rest upon the birthplace is the incarnating Zarathustra himself. This is the moment when the Zarathustra-Individuality incarnates in the child Jesus of Bethlehem. The Magi knew that, in following the star, they were following their great Teacher, Zarathustra, on his way to reincarnation.
It is now a matter of perceiving how this path continues and of realising how the purest extract of the whole evolution of the Hebrew people is actually present in the personality of the Jesus described in St. Matthew's Gospel. Firstly, we see that spiritually the sacrificial offering of Isaac is repeated in the offering of gold, frankincense and myrrh brought by the three Magi from the East. We are reminded, too, of other happenings among the ancient Hebrew people. The circumstances associated with the birth of this Jesus-Child are like a reflection of the destinies of the ancient Hebrews. Among them was a Joseph who in his dreams possessed an inherited gift and was able to form the link between the Hebrew and the Egyptian peoples; now again there is a Joseph who has dreams and to whom it is shown in a dream, not only that Jesus will be born, but that he must go with Jesus to Egypt.
The path of Zarathustra — now living in the body of the Jesus-child — continues. Just as he had followed the path taken by Abraham on the physical plane from Ur in Chaldea to Canaan, so he follows it further still, to Egypt. Like the Hebrew people, the Jesus-child is brought back again from Egypt. Thus, in the appearance of the Bethlehem Jesus — only later called the Nazarene — there is a recapitulation of the whole destiny of the ancient Hebrew people up to the return from Egypt to Palestine, the Promised Land. Events in the outer history of the Hebrew people, extending over long, long centuries, are now recapitulated in the destiny of that human being who was Zarathustra incarnated in the body of the Bethlehem Jesus. This — conceived on the vast scale in which it is presented in the Gospel of St. Matthew — is the secret of human history in general. Human history cannot be understood unless it is recognised that in the destiny of every great Individuality charged with a special mission the whole process of development through centuries is recapitulated; that such Individualities represent the essence and extract of what has been achieved in history through long ages. Far, far more than this was, of course, to be embodied in Christ-Jesus, but the bodily constitution had first to be prepared, and this was possible only through the special measures that have been described.
What kind of conditions prevailed at the point of time when the whole history of the Hebrew people was to be recapitulated in the personality of Jesus? — In what way was it a turning-point of history? Let us here review the following facts of the evolutionary process of which for some years now I have been trying to give you a picture.
Humanity proceeded from a primeval stage of evolution when everything that brought human beings together in love was bound up with the blood-tie. Love was determined by this factor, and marriage took place only between human beings very closely related by blood. In those ancient times there was no other kind of love than that which was bound up with blood-relationship. From this ‘close marriage' humanity had its beginnings. But intermingling of the particular blood-ties gradually became more general in widely separated territories of the earth. Among all the peoples, however, there is evidence to show that they were taken aback when men and women belonging to one racial stock marry into a different stock, when the transition to ‘distant marriage' begins. In all the myths and sagas, in the legend of Gudrun, for example, this is described as an unwonted happening, one that causes astonishment.
Two streams were in operation during this phase of human evolution. In the process where human beings are brought together through ties of blood there was working the Divine-Spiritual principle which strives to unite humanity, to unify all mankind. Working in opposition to this was the Luciferic principle which strives to make every human being independent, to endow the single individual with the greatest possible power. Both these principles must be present in human nature, both forces must take effect in the evolution of humanity.
These two sets of powers, then, were at work in the progressive evolution of humanity: the Divine- Spiritual powers on the one hand, and on the other, the Luciferic powers, spirit-beings who had not completed their evolution on the Old Moon and who wished to prevent men from losing their identity as separate beings, and to make them entirely independent and self-sufficient. These opposing powers were always at work, and as a result, the Ego of man, a product of the earth, was perpetually being torn to this side or to that — towards human love on the one side and towards inner self-sufficiency on the other.
Now at a particular point of time the interworking of these two powers reached a kind of crisis. This crisis, this crucial condition in human affairs set in when, as the result of the deeds of the Roman Empire, widespread intermingling took place among the peoples in many territories of the earth. This was a most crucial moment in the evolution of humanity, the moment when the still undecided question of close or distant marriage came to its issue. Men were facing the danger either of not developing the Ego by remaining within the separate racial stocks, or of losing all connection with humanity as such and becoming independent, self-sufficient, egoistic individuals.
This decisive point had been reached. What must now happen? Something quite specific. The human Ego must become sufficiently mature to develop within itself what may for the first time properly be called freedom, and to unfold from within itself, in freedom, the love which, because it now belongs to the life of soul, is no longer bound up with the blood-tie. The Ego was facing this decisive issue: to meet it, it must be completely liberated, must acquire full consciousness of itself. Thus, with the exception of the oriental peoples, the whole of mankind belonging to the old world was confronting a birth of the Ego through which this Ego could know the love that springs from its own inmost being. Out of freedom the Ego was to unfold love, and out of love, freedom. Only a being who develops an Ego of this nature is in the real sense man. For a being whose love is determined solely by ties of blood is coerced into love, and merely gives expression to what, at a lower level, happens in the animal kingdom. It was at this point of history of which we have just been speaking that full manhood became, for the first time, a possibility. At this point the influence which made man truly man was to stream over the earth.
And now let us recall what I have said many times: that man is a being ensheathed in three members: the physical body which he has in common with the minerals, the etheric body which he has in common with the plants, and the astral body which up to this point of time had been the seat of the kind of love he has in common with the animals. With his fully developed Ego man is the crown of earthly creation. All other beings of the earth have names that can be given them from outside; they are objective realities. The “Ego” has a name that can be given only by itself. In the Ego, the ‘I', the Godhead speaks; earthly conditions have no longer a voice. In the ‘I' the kingdom of the Spirit speaks; the Spirit from the heavens speaks when the ‘I' has become fully self-conscious. — It might be said that until that time there were three kingdoms — mineral, plant, animal — and a kingdom which had indeed risen to a higher level than these, but had not yet reached completion, had not yet been imbued with its full super-earthly reality of being. This kingdom exists by virtue of the fact that into an Egohood there enters that which is otherwise nowhere to be found on earth, namely, the spiritual world, the kingdom of heaven. — This kingdom is called in the Bible “the kingdom — or the kingdoms — of heaven”, or, more usually “the kingdom of God.”
“The kingdom of heaven” is simply an alternative expression for “the kingdom of man.” When we speak of mineral, plant and animal kingdoms we can add in the words of the Bible a fourth, “the kingdom of man.” Men who at that time, with the insight acquired in the Mysteries, could look back into the whole course of human evolution, could speak as follows: “Look back to ancient times: humanity was then only in process of being led to the level of manhood, for the kingdom of heaven is to come to the earth.” — So spoke the forerunner of Christ-Jesus, and Christ-Jesus Himself: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”. In these words they indicated the essential quality of that time. It was the age when the birth of Christ-Jesus had to take place. He was to bring to mankind the forces through which the Ego would be able to unfold, and develop its own inherent nature.
The whole evolution of humanity thus divides itself into two main phases: the phase when the kingdom of heaven is not yet on the earth, and the phase when the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of man in its highest sense, is actually on the earth. The ancient Hebrew people was chosen to provide the bodily constitution, the bodily sheaths, which would so develop as to become fit to receive the bearer of this kingdom of heaven.
These are the secrets revealed when the historical aspect of events is studied in the light of the deepest meaning of the Gospel of St. Matthew. To the two streams which we have seen 9See Rudolf Steiner's lecture-course: The Gospel of St. Luke. were contributory to Christianity — the streams of Zarathustrianism and Buddhism — we must add a third, namely, the stream contributed by the ancient Hebrew people. We see how these great Leaders, Buddha and Zarathustra, desired to bring to mankind the offering of the streams of spiritual life inaugurated by them. But a temple had to be provided and this could be done only through the ancient Hebrew people, who produced the temple which was the physical body of Jesus. Into the temple the two streams of Zarathustra and Buddha could bring their offerings. The first offering was made by Zarathustra, in that he incarnated in this body; the later offering was made by the Buddha, in that he rayed forth his Nirmanakaya, 10The spiritual reality resulting from his earthly existence. into the other Jesus. (See Appendix II, p. 75) — In this way the two streams flow into a unity.
I have only been able to-day to give you a slight sketch of these deeper secrets and I have had to express it in a somewhat dogmatic way. We must continue our study on some other occasion, in order that we may acquire a clearer picture of the mission of the ancient Hebrew people and of the emergence of Christ-Jesus from this people. Then will become manifest to us this unique event, that out of history itself, out of the historical flow of evolution, there evolved a Being of everlasting value, imperishable and eternal. So shall we gradually come to understand how, out of a transient world, that was able to spring which will endure for eternity.