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Fall and Redemption

Lecture by
Dr. Rudolf Steiner
Dornach, January 21st, 1923
GA 220

This lecture, the 9th of 12 lectures given by Rudolf Steiner at Dornach, Switzerland, during January of 1923. The title these lectures were published under is: A Living Knowledge of Nature, the Fall of the Intellect into Sin, the Spiritual Resurrection. In German: Lebendiges Naturerkennen, Intellektueller Suendenfall und Spirituelle Suendenerhebung. The translator is unknown, but the GA # is 220.

This is an authorised English translation that is presented here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

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Fall and Redemption

January 21, 1923

You have seen from these lectures that I feel duty bound to speak at this time about a consciousness that must be attained if we are to accomplish one of the tasks of the Anthroposophical Society. And to begin with today, let me point to the fact that this consciousness can only be acquired if the whole task of culture and civilization is really understood today from the spiritual-scientific point of view. I have taken the most varied opportunities to try, from this point of view, to characterize what is meant by the fall of man, to which all religions refer. The religions speak of this fall of man as lying at the starting point of the historical development of mankind; and in various ways through the years we have seen how this fall of man — which I do not need to characterize in more detail today — is an expression of something that once occurred in the course of human evolution: man's becoming independent of the divine spiritual powers that guided him.

We know in fact that the consciousness of this independence first arose as the consciousness soul appeared in human evolution in the first half of the fifteenth century. We have spoken again and again in recent lectures about this point in time. But basically the whole human evolution depicted in myths and history is a kind of preparation for this significant moment of growing awareness of our freedom and independence.

This moment is a preparation for the fact that earthly humanity is meant to acquire a decision-making ability that is independent of the divine spiritual powers. And so the religions point to a cosmic-earthly event that replaces the soul-spiritual instincts — which alone were determinative in what humanity did in very early times — with just this kind of human decision making. As I said, we do not want to speak in more detail about this now, but the religions did see the matter in this way: With respect to his moral impulses the human being has placed himself in a certain opposition to his guiding spiritual powers, to the Yahweh or Jehovah powers, let us say, speaking in Old Testament terms. If we look at this interpretation, therefore, we can present the matter as though, from a definite point in his evolution, man no longer felt that divine spiritual powers were active in him and that now he himself was active.

Consequently, with respect to his overall moral view of himself, man felt that he was sinful and that he would have been incapable of falling into sin if he had remained in his old state, in a state of instinctive guidance by divine spiritual powers. Whereas he would then have remained sinless, incapable of sinning, like a mere creature of nature, he now became capable of sinning through this independence from the divine spiritual powers. And then there arose in humanity this consciousness of sin: As a human being I am sinless only when I find my way back again to the divine spiritual powers. What I myself decide for myself is sinful per se, and I can attain a sinless state only by finding my way back again: to the divine spiritual powers.

This consciousness of sin then arose most strongly in the Middle Ages. And then human intellectuality, which previously had not yet been a separate faculty, began to develop. And so, in a certain way, wh