Basle, 16 November, 1907
carefully study the mental life of the present day we find a
deep cleft in many minds. Men now receive, even in earliest
youth, not one view of the world only but two: the one from
their religious instruction and the other from Natural
Science. The result of this is, that from the very outset
doubts arise as to the correctness of the religious
It might be
thought that Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy desires to
bring in a new religion in addition to those already
existing; but that is not the case. Anthroposophy is not a
new religion, it is not a new sect.
lectures it will be our task, with the aid of Spiritual
Science, to show the significance of this religious document,
St. John's Gospel, and in so doing we shall be able to point
out the relation of Spiritual Science to religious records in
general. Spiritual Science enables us to understand the
various religions in the world. One who is acquainted with
Anthroposophical Spiritual Science takes Christianity as it
is, as a fact of the very greatest significance to the whole
spiritual life of humanity. It has been made impossible for
the mental and spiritual life of the present day to
understand the depths of Christianity. This understanding can
only be gained through Anthroposophical Spiritual Science. If
we make use of what it provides we can penetrate deeply into
the wisdom contained in the religious records.
compare Spiritual Science with philology. We can also study
the Christian documents with the aid of philology; but
Spiritual Science leads us into the spirit of these
documents. The best expounder of Euclid's Geometry is one who
knows Geometry, not one who only knows the Greek
Science is not to be a new religion for the men of modern
times; it is to be the means by which the true contents of
Christianity may be brought home to them. Christianity is the
zenith and meeting point of all religions. All other
religions do but point to Christianity, which is the religion
for all the future and will not be followed by any other. The
fountain of Truth which springs up in it is abundant and
never-ending; it is so plenteous that as the evolution of
humanity progresses it will reveal every new aspects of its
being. Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science is to present
Christianity to man from a new and different side.
various religious records may be considered from four
different points of view:
1. The point of view of the Simple
Believer, who holds fast to the words that are giving him.
Many people, however, cannot reconcile the standpoint with
their modern thought and they then pass on to:
2. The point of view of the Critic, the
Doubter, the one who denies. This is the point of view of
the “clever, enlightened men”, who have
“risen above” religious truths. But many of
them search further and discover that a very great deal is
nevertheless contained in these religious documents they
wrestle through to:
3. The point of view of the Symbolists.
These interpret the religious records in their own way and
find in them much or little according to their knowledge or
acuteness. In Germany many former Freethinkers have come to
this point of view. Finally, it is possible through
Spiritual Science to arrive at:
4. The point of view where one learns to
take the religious documents literally once more. We find
many remarkable examples of this in the study St. John's
Gospel takes quite a special place among the four Gospels.
The Gospel of Matthew, Mark and Luke give us an historical
picture of Jesus, but St. John's Gospel is regarded as a kind
of apotheosis, a wonderful poem. There are many
contradictions when we compare it with the statements made in
the other Gospels, but these contradictions are so apparent
that it cannot be supposed that the old defenders of St.
John's Gospel did not perceive them also.
At the present
time St. John's Gospel is considered to be the least worthy
of credence. The reason for this attitude lies in the
materialistic frame of mind of the men of our time. In the
course of the 19th century humanity became materialistic in
feeling, and consequently also in thought; for as a man
feels, so does the judge. Materialism is not confined to the
view of the world contained in the books of Büchner,
Moleschott, and Vogt: even those who explain the religious
documents from a certain spiritual standpoint do this in a
fully materialistic way. As example of this I might quote the
dispute between Karl Vogt and Professor Wagner of Munich.
This dispute was fought out at the time in the
“Augsburger Zeitung” and ended completely in
favor of Karl Vogt. Wagner stood up for the existence of the
soul; he did this, however, in an absolutely materialistic
way. And as the theologians have materialistic feelings, the
three synoptic Gospels please them better, because they more
easily admit of a materialistic explanation. It is repugnant
to materialistic thinking to accept a Being who towers above
all men; it is much more acceptable to them to see in Jesus a
noble human being only, “the humble man of
Nazareth.” According to St. John's Gospel is quite
inadmissible to see in Jesus only that which also lives in
any other man. The Christ-soul in the Jesus-body is something
quite different. St. John's Gospel represents Christ to us
not only as a very great man, but as a Being who embraces the
If we translate
St. John's Gospel according to the spirit and not only
according to the words, the first 14 verses run approximately
as follows: —
1. In the beginning was the Word, and
the Word was with God, and the Word was a God
2. The same was in the very beginning
3. All things were made by Him, and
without Him was not anything made that was made.
4. In Him was Life, and the Life was the
Light of men.
5. And the Light shone in the darkness,
but the darkness did not comprehend it.
6. There was a man sent from God whose
name was John.
7. The same came for a witness, to bear
witness of the Light, that through him all men might
8. He was not that Light, that came to
bear witness of the Light.
9. For the true Light, which
enlighteneth all men, was to come into the world.
10. He was in the world, and the world
was made by Him, but the world did not recognize Him.
11. It came into the several human
beings, even into the ego-men; but the individual human
beings, the ego-men, did not receive Him.
12. But those that did receive Him, to
them gave He power to manifest that they were Sons of
13. Those who trusted in His Name were
born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of
the will of man, but of God.
14. And the Word was made flesh and
dwelt among us, and we have heard His teaching, the
teaching of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of
devotion and truth. (in St. John's Gospel truth —
aletheia — is Spirit Self, devotion — charis
— is Life Spirit, and wisdom — sophia —
is Spirit Man.)
Even the very
first words are taken in an abstract sense by the modern man.
The “Very Beginning” is thought of as an abstract
beginning; but to grasp the true significance of this word we
must recall what was taught on this point in the Christian
Secret School of Dionysius the Areopagite.
animal, and man make up the series of being in evolution
which require the physical body. Above them are beings who do
not need the physical body, namely, the Angels, Archangels,
Very Beginnings, the Powers, Virtues, Dominions, the
Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim, and Beings were still
Thus the Very
Beginnings are real Beings. They are those who, at the
beginning of the evolution of our world, were already at the
stage humanity will only reach at the end of its evolution
(in the Vulcan Period.) If in the light of this we study the
first verse, “In the very beginning was the
word,” we might represent the state of affairs
pictorially by the following comparison. Before we utter a
word, this word lives in us as thought. It lives within us.
When the word is uttered the air around us is set in motion;
vibrations are produced. If we imagine these vibrations
condensed and hardened in some way, we should see the words
fall to the ground as forms and figures; we should perceive
the creative power of the word with our eyes. If the word is
already creative now, it will be much more so in the
possesses organs which will only attain their full
significance in the future; he also possesses others which
are already in decline. To the latter belong the organs of
reproduction, to the former the heart and the larynx, for
these are only at the beginning of their development. At the
present time the heart is an involuntary muscle, although it
has transverse fibers like all voluntary muscles. These
transverse fibers are an indication that the heart is in the
process of transition from an involuntary to a voluntary
organ. The larynx is destined to be the human organ of
reproduction in a distant future, strange as this may sound
at present. Just as man, by means of speech, can already
transpose his thoughts into vibrations of the air, he will in
the future be able to create his own image by means of the
Beginnings already possessed this creative power at the
outset of the evolution of our world and can therefore be
rightly looked upon as divine Beings. At the beginning of the
evolution of the Earth a divine Word was uttered, and this
has become mineral, plant, animal and man.