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The Fifth Gospel

Rudolf Steiner


Lecture IV
Oslo, Norway
October 5, 1913


What is written at the end of the Gospel of John is a relief for me when I speak about the Fifth Gospel today. We remember at the end it states that in no way is everything that Christ Jesus did told, for if one wanted to tell of all the events there wouldn't be enough books in the world to contain them. So it cannot be doubted that in addition to what is described in books, much more can have occurred.

I would like to tell you about Jesus of Nazareth from the time he was twelve years old. As you know, it was the time when the I of Zarathustra, which was incarnated in one of the two Jesus children transferred, be means of a mystical act, into the other Jesus child, into the Jesus child described at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. [See Note 1] So we will begin with the year in Jesus of Nazareth's life when the Jesus of the Luke Gospel received Zarathustra´s I. We know that the Gospel of Luke describes the moment when Jesus is said to have been lost and he is found again sitting with the scribes and how all were so astonished by the powerful answers he gave. We know, however, that these meaningful, powerful answers came from the fact that the spiritually veiled memory of the I of Zarathustra acted in a way to enable Jesus to give such surprising answers. We also know that due to the mother's death in one of the families and the father's death in the other, both families joined together and the Jesus boy who bore Zarathustra's I grew up in that unified family.

According to the Fifth Gospel it was a very special growing up period. At first his immediate neighbors had a most favorable opinion of him because of the surprising answers he gave in the temple. They saw the potential scholar (scribe) in him, one who could reach a high level of scholarship. They had great hopes for him and hung on his words. Nevertheless, he became ever more silent – so much so that they became ill-disposed to him. He, however, was engaged in an inner struggle, a mighty struggle in himself between his twelfth and eighteenth years. In his soul there was something like a rising up of the treasures of wisdom, as if the sum of the former Zarathustra-knowledge was rising in the form of Jewish scholarship.

At first the boy listened attentively to everything the many scribes/scholars said who came to his home in Nazareth, and was able to give exceptional answers. In the beginning he astonished those scribes who looked upon him as a wunderkind. But then he became more and more silent and listened without speaking to what the others said. At the same time great ideas, meaningful moral impulses arose in his soul. What he heard from the scribes at that time made an impression on him, but it was an impression which often left a trace of bitterness in his soul, because he had the feeling – already in those young years, mind you – that there was much uncertainty, things that could lead to error in what the scribes spoke based on the old tradition, from the old scriptures which are collected in the Old Testament. It was always depressing when he heard that in ancient times the spirit came over the prophets, that God himself had spoken to the old prophets and that now inspiration had abandoned the succeeding generations. But he paid special attention to one thing, because he felt that it would happen to him.

“Yes, that great spirit, that powerful spirit which came to Elias, for example, no longer speaks.” What did still speak, however, which many believed to be an inspiration from the spiritual heights, what still spoke was a weaker voice which some believed to hear as coming from the spirit of Jahveh himself. “Bath Kol” was the name given to that inspiring voice, although a weaker, lesser voice than that which inspired the ancient prophets, but nevertheless something similar. Some in Jesus' surroundings spoke thus of Bath Kol. Later Jewish scriptures also tell of this Bath-Kol. [See Note 2]

Now I will insert something into this Fifth Gospel which doesn't really belong, but will help to explain Bath Kol. Later on there was a conflict in two rabbinical schools, because the famous Rabbi Elieser ben Hirkano formulated a teaching and as proof of the teaching – the Talmud also describes this – he claimed that he could work miracles. He had a Carob tree rise from the earth and replant itself a couple of hundred feet away; he made a stream flow backwards, and as the third miracle he invoked a “voice from heaven” that his teaching would be made manifest. But this was not believed in the opposing rabbinical school of Rabbi Josia, who replied: “However much Rabbi Elieser has carob trees transplant themselves from one place to another, however much he makes streams flow upwards, or invoke Bath Kol – it is written in the Law that the eternal laws of being must be lain in the mouths of men and in the hearts of men. And if he wants to convince us, this Rabbi Elieser, he should not invoke Bath Kol, but he should invoke what human hearts can apprehend.”

I tell this story because we can see from it that soon after the introduction of Christianity Bath Kol was still held in a somewhat lesser esteem in certain rabbinical schools. But she [Bath=daughter; Kol=voice – ed.] had bloomed as an inspiring vo