Chapter Four ~ Rudolf Steiner’s Fifth Gospel in Story Form
To warm and cheer readers for the Winter Solstice, serializing my first 1991 book as editor
The two sets of parents were in friendly relationship. The two Jesus children grew up as near neighbors until they were twelve years old. When the Nathan-Jesus-child reached this age, his parents went to Jerusalem after the custom, to take part in the Feast of the Passover. Their child went with them, as was usual. On the journey to Jerusalem, the Individuality of Zarathrustra left the body of the Solomon Jesus-boy and passed into the body and aura of the Nathan-Jesus-boy. This was the time when the Nirmankaya of Buddha united with the cast-off astral sheath and when the Zarathrustra-Ego passed into him.
As the parents were returning from the Feast, they suddenly missed the boy. Failing to find him among the other travellers, they turned back and found him sitting in the Jewish temple conversing with the learned doctors and scribes. In the soul of Zarathrustra lived a mastery of the fundamentals of the ancient Hebrew wisdom. The Nathan-Jesus was now able to speak with consummate understanding of all that was revealed by God to Moses. The learned men and scribes were astonished at the wisdom in his answers to their questions.
The formerly mild and gentle boy was transformed. His parents did not recognize him as he sat among the scribes, nor did they understand his words, for now the Zarathrustra Individuality was speaking out of the Nathan-Jesus. Without knowing it, he replied to questions put to him with all the power of Zarathrustra, arousing the astonishment of the learned scribes. All the faculties acquired by this kingly Individuality were now able to work in the soul of the Nathan-Jesus. This child, now so changed his parents did not know what to make of him, was then taken home.
According to Dr. Steiner, the Akashic Chronicle shows recorded something which may happen from time to time. At a certain stage of development, a particular person may need conditions differing from those present at the beginning of his life. Hence it does happen someone lives to a certain age then suddenly falls into a state of deathlike unconsciousness. A transformation then takes place. His or her own Ego leaves him and another Individuality passes into the person’s bodily constitution. By his twelfth year, the Zarathrustra-Individuality had attained everything it was possible to attain in the body of the Solomon Jesus.
Such a change can occur for other reasons as well, a phenomena known to every student of metaphysics. Readers may know Ruth Montgomery popularized the “walk-in” process in the 1980’s in several books. She both describes the process of former walk-ins and interviews current walk-ins.
In the case of the twelve-year-old Jesus, the Zarathrustra-Ego, which up to then had lived in the body of the Solomon-line Jesus, now left his body and passed into the body of the Nathan-Jesus. Following the visit to the doctors in the temple, those in the immediate vicinity of the young Jesus of Nazareth held him in the highest repute because of the powerful answers he had given in the temple. The doctors and scribes regarded him as a wonder-child. People around him saw in him the future doctor of the law, one who would attain outstanding eminence among the learned scribes. Those around Jesus of Nazareth entertained the highest hopes for him. They began to drink in his every word.
At home, the boy first listened with the greatest discernment and concentration to the many learned doctors and scribes who came to the house. He gave astounding answers to everything said by them. However by and by he became more and more silent, merely listening to what others were saying without speaking a word himself. He became more and more silent, so silent indeed he often caused great displeasure to those around him.
The parents of the Gospel of Luke not only note an exceptional inner change in their Jesus but an outward one as well. This answers the question why it is expressly stated after the child had been found among the learned scribes in the temple that: “He went down with them to Nazareth. . . .And Jesus increased in outward beauty of form, in noble habits and in wisdom.” These words are usually translated: ‘and Jesus increased in wisdom, age, stature, and in favor with God and man’ (Luke 2:52).
Do we require a Gospel to tell us a twelve year old boy increased in age, height and wisdom? The individuality of Zarathrustra, from the twelfth to the thirtieth year, poured into the boy with whom he was united, all that could come from so high an Individuality. Indeed the greatest possible preparations had been made for what was to come. Yet, please remember after Zarathrustra entered Nathan-Jesus, he remained only a highly developed man. He was still encumbered with certain liabilities to err, with certain possibilities for moral difficulties, though not exactly vices or sins.
Between his twelfth and eighteenth year of his life, a tremendous struggle developed within him. Because he bore within him the Zarathrustra-Ego, he absorbed very rapidly knowledge possessed by others around him. The Akashic Chronicle reveals while he listened, ethical truths, great and sublime thoughts, and above all powerful moral impulses came to life in his soul. This knowledge was a source of revelation and wonderment to the young boy.
Deep intensity of feeling had already been apparent in the Nathan-Jesus-boy. When the Zarathrustra Individuality passed into him, inner illuminations were now able to flash up inside him. Hidden remembrances welled up in Nathan-Jesus; deep-lying treasures of wisdom sprang to life in his soul, working their way up to the surface, from the exceptionally mature spirit of the Zarathrustra-Ego. The radiant sun of Zoroastrian wisdom flashed up in him in the form of Hebrew learning. After all there had been the time when working at the foundation of the Ancient Persian civilization, he looked up to the great Sun-Spirit, and gazing into the vast cosmic realms of the Spirit, comprehended it.
Zarathrustra spoke of two Powers, Ormuzd and Ahriman, who oppose each other throughout the universe. Humanity is enmeshed in the whole process of cosmic life. The struggle between Ormuzd and Ahriman is also waged in the human soul. Because of this battle, said Zarathrustra, passions rage in man. Moral fervor, moral warmth, such as in the later Jewish prophets, was not found in his teaching. All his teaching related to the working out of forces of the cosmos here on Earth. His was a teaching primarily concerned with the outer world as viewed with the eyes of spirit. As an old soul rich in prior Earth experience, Zarathrustra was able to perceive in a deep way the forces working in the world. Zarathrustra knew sunlight has the same relationship to the Logos as a person’s physical body has to the soul. In the sunlight something spiritual streams down upon the Earth. If we are able to conceive of a sun-spirit within or behind the physical sun-body, we find in this spiritual part love streaming down upon the Earth. It is not only physical sunlight which awakens plants into life — they would wither and die without it. Also working on them is the warm love of the Godhead streaming to Earth. Plants take sunlight into themselves and build themselves up with it. Human beings exist to take into themselves the warm love of the Divine, develop it and return it again to the Divine. Zarathrustra knew in its purest form the external body of the Logos appears especially in the outer sunlight. The sunlight we know is not merely material light. To spiritual perception it is just as much the vesture of the Logos as the outer physical body is the vesture of the inner soul.
As Jesus of Nazareth grew from his twelfth to his seventeenth or eighteenth year, the illumination welling up from his innermost soul grew constantly richer. His insights and appreciations were especially rich regarding the development of the ancient and later Hebrew people. When he was born among the Hebrew people, nothing remained of the greatness and splendor of this culture from the old days when the prophets imparted direct revelations of world-mysteries. The teenage boy saw not only the outer decline of a culture but grasped with his heart the inner decline that precipitated the outer decline. The ancient prophets had handed down a great deal; yet, original faculties for drawing secrets and guidance directly from the spiritual worlds had long since passed away.
What he heard from the learned doctors and scribes who assembled in his house made a certain impression upon him. It also caused him bitter sorrow, because he felt — even in those early years — how much uncertainty, much that tended to error, was contained in what they said about the ancient traditions and writings compiled in the Old Testament. Heaviness weighed on his soul especially whenever he heard in ancient times the Spirit had come upon the prophets, the word of God Himself had inspired them, and how later generations were bereft of this inspiration.
The Akasha Chronicle reveals Jesus of Nazareth felt in his depths — and with ever-increasing intensity: Once in ages now long gone, mighty and glorious revelations flowed from the spiritual worlds into the souls of persons capable of receiving them. These revelations were understood in quite a different way than the men of today can understand them. All these things I feel inside me were once proclaimed by the prophets and by men like them. Their wisdom can still be known today; however, the men of this time are the after-comers of the ages of great revelation. The old revelation can no longer be comprehended and taken in as fully and deeply as it could be by those who first took it in. The old revelations are beyond the reach of the men of today. The once full body of revelation in Jewish culture has been reduced to only a bony skeleton. So things seemed to him.
Between the ages of twelve and eighteen, while he was engaged in his daily work of carpentry and wood joining, the Zarathrustra-Ego saw the incapacity of souls of his own day to unfold into the light behind the Sun. He saw the incapacity of people of his own day to unfold into the songs of revelations once proclaimed — which he had once proclaimed. His inner eye revealed to him the mis-match between the wisdom of the past and audiences of today. The scribes preserved the old wisdom; yet, it no longer led to revelations accessible for peoples of today. He felt the same way about many other things revealed to his inner eye. Disquiet about the inadequacy of the means to gain authentic revelation colored his mood of soul.
Despite his disappointment with much he saw around him, he always listened with deep attention, because he felt one day it would happen to him. The learned doctors and scribes said: “That sublime and mighty Spirit who once descended on and inspired Elijah and the other prophets speaks no longer. The voice speaking today is a much feebler voice. Still it is a voice which many regard as issuing from the Spirit of Jahve himself” The Bath-Kol was the name given to this mysterious voice of inspiration. In the past this inner voice spoke loud like a trumpet and the prophets were its mouthpieces. Elijah was an outstanding mouthpiece for the Bath-Kol.
In the centuries since, however, new connections between humanity and spirit were stirring and the definite voice of the Bath-Kol gradually became almost silent. The voice of inner guidance was now feebler and less significant. Nevertheless the Bath-Kol voice represented something similar to the inspiration of the prophets, the closest thing today to the voice of the old prophets, known to the learned men of Judaism. Many of those around Jesus spoke this way about the Bath-Kol. Much concerning it is related in later Jewish writings. Although it continued in a way to be a voice of inspiration among the Rabbis and Scribes, respect for the Bath-Kol had greatly diminished in certain Rabbinic schools.
As the boy Jesus listened to and pondered Jewish lore and culture, the quiet inspiration of the Bath-Kol blossomed within his own breast. What once provided revelation to the prophets now shone like a gentle light deep in his own soul. This more direct, personal connection with spirit did not shock the young man. The maturity of the Zarathrustra-Ego enabled him to assimilate and integrate this new revelation easily.
Yet the inspiration he now received through the Bath-Kol gave rise to bitter, inward struggles in his sixteenth and seventeenth years. He was confident he had discerned this with certainty: The Bath-Kol revealed to him how in times to come, the voice of the highest God, who inspired the ancient Hebrew teachers would speak no longer. The course of Old Testament tradition, in fact, would go out altogether, like a candle flame, which eventually, gradually and certainly — exhausts its fuel. One day — it was truly a terrible moment in the soul of Jesus of Nazareth — he believed the Bath-Kol made known to him the following:
“I no longer reach to those heights where Spirit can reveal to me the further progress of the Jewish people!”
It seemed to declare to him:
“I was capable of revealing the ancient revelations. They were right and proper in their time. If I could bring forward the revelation appropriate for today, I would do so. But I am incapable.”
This was deeply moving to the boy. He felt as though all the ground under his feet was swept away. There were days when he said to himself: The forces of soul which I believed bestowed upon me, lead only to the realization the Jewish people, my people, no longer have the capacity to reach the heights of Divine revelation.
The preserved written scripts and texts were the only source the Jewish people had for reaching into the living Spirit now. A few men through their individual development were able to experience something of what had been known to the old prophets, the renowned Rabbi, Hillel, for example. Yet even in these few, the power working in the early days of revelations to the Hebrew people had long since waned. Unmistakable decline was apparent in the spiritual evolution of the Hebrew people.
The thirteen to fourteen year old Jesus of Nazareth felt within himself infinite loneliness because what he was feeling, others around him were no longer feeling; nor, did they have any way to reach into it. This caused deep suffering in his soul. The suffering of this loneliness took deeper and deeper root in his soul. Such was the preparation of Jesus of Nazareth. He said to himself,
`Even in those around me most open and receptive to Spirit, their revelations are only a feeble reflection of past prophecy. How is the next step in my people’s spiritual progress to appear?’
Here was one who since childhood had been able to feel deeply along with all other people. He said to himself perpetually: ‘The revelations from the spiritual world, given through the prophets, have ceased because there are no longer any ears to hear them. A new capacity must come into play and be exercised — what could it be? A voice is sounding in me from the spiritual world. Could people but hear this voice, it would be for them an infinite blessing. In days of old there were people who could hear it, but now there are no longer ears to hear.’ This was the keynote in his soul.
What became of the Solomon-Jesus-child around age twelve? When his individuality went out of him, Solomon-Jesus could not continue to develop within Earth conditions. No further ego development would have been possible for this boy; and so, his development came to a standstill. Yet, just as a ball once thrown will go on rolling through its own momentum, life does not go out immediately for a person who lets go of his eternal individuality. Outwardly the difference between a person in which the eternal portion is present and a person whose soul has departed, does not appear very great. For in everyday life, the eternal Soul is not working so very directly. So the life forces in the Solomon-Jesus-boy enabled him to continue for a time. Yet inevitably a kind of dying or withering process set in. As well, comparatively soon, through a certain dispensation of karma, not long after his initial meeting with the learned doctors and scribes in the temple, the young mother of the Nathan-Jesus, called Mary in the synoptic Gospels, died. When the spiritual part of her was translated into the spiritual world, she took with her what was of eternal value in the Solomon-Jesus. So the one boy died at about the same time as the mother of the Nathan-Jesus. The Nathan-child was now orphaned on his mother’s side.
Nathan-Joseph, the carpenter, was then left alone with his only son, Jesus, with no one to mother him. The Solomon-Joseph had already died. So the Solomon-Jesus-child was orphaned on his father’s side. The Nathan-Joseph then married the mother of the Solomon-Jesus. Since the Solomon-Joseph had already died, the Solomon-Mary, the older Mary, together with her children James, Joseph, Simon, Judas and the two daughters, were taken into the house of the Nathan-Joseph. In this way the Zarathrustra-individuality continued to live with his family of the Solomon-Joseph around him, except for his father, even though he was now in the body of Nathan-Jesus. The two families were combined into one and continued living in the town of Nazareth. Nathan-Jesus had no natural brothers or sisters so the brothers and sisters of Solomon-Jesus were now his step-brothers and step-sisters. The two families were now one, and the family lived in the little place called Nazareth. So now we call the Nathan-Jesus-boy in whom the Zarathrustra individuality is living: Jesus of Nazareth.
In these undramatic family circumstances is hidden the concrete fusion of two spiritual streams. The Nathan-Jesus had been able to assimilate everything resulting from his union with the Buddha. The Individuality now growing up as Jesus of Nazareth, already irradiated and pervaded by the spiritual power of the rejuvenated Buddha, now bore within him the Individuality of Zarathrustra. In this manner the spiritual streams of Buddhism and Zoroastrianism united in the soul of Jesus of Nazareth.
Today we must not look for Buddha back in 600 BC or look for Zarathrustra back in 500 BC. Rather we can look for them in Christ Jesus, where we come to know their further progress. It can be seen from this how religions agree absolutely and work together to bring about the advance of humanity. It is not a matter of preaching the tenets of Anthroposophy and tolerance for diverse religions. If we place each religion in a setting of living feeling then we do not merely talk of tolerance and remain intolerant because we have a prejudice in favor of one religious system or another. We are only tolerant when we measure each religion with its own standards and understand each for itself.
The fact the child was orphaned is especially significant. The being who passed into the body of the Nathan-Jesus was a bearer of a message to the whole of humanity. The message was intended to widen the perspective of humanity beyond the narrow focus of blood-ties and blood-relationship. This method of establishing authority had dominated human social order for thousands of years up to that time. The message was not to set aside the tie between father and son, brother and sister, grandfather and grandson. Rather to add to the love inherent in blood-ties, the universal love flowing from soul to soul, transcending all ties of blood. This deepened love — which has nothing to do with blood kinship — was to be brought by the Being who manifested later in the Nathan-Jesus. For this purpose it was necessary the Zarathrustra-Ego should now experience on Earth what it means to feel cut off from all relationship with others through the blood. He was to experience his freedom from even the possibility of such ties. Zarathrustra had foregone ever founding a family and having descendants. He had passed into another body than the one he was born in. Then only could this being feel in all its purity the ever-existing link between person and person in the experience of unconditional loving.
In this way, the Zarathrustra-Ego was prepared for One still more sublime, the One who later entered upon His great mission — the proclamation of Universal Love.
When the mother and brothers of the Solomon-Jesus body came, people said to Him: “Thy mother and thy brethren are without and seek for thee.” Then from the depths of his soul and without compromising himself the Nathan-Jesus could say: “This they are not!” Those around him may have faulted him for wronging filial love but Zarathrustra had relinquished even the body that was connected with his blood-family. Pointing to those who were with him in free community of soul he could say: “Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Matthew Gospel).
The words of the scriptures are to be taken literally! Jesus of Nazareth was to stand before the world not only as a homeless man, like the Buddha who left his home for unknown lands, but as one liberated from all family connections and from everything associated with the ties of blood. He had to experience all the pain a person can feel when he or she bids farewell to everything near and dear and must stand alone. He had to speak from the experience of utter loneliness and abandonment by family. A being whose mission is to proclaim the possibility of the healing of pain; and, release from suffering, must himself taste the very depths of suffering in order to find the right words applicable to speak to it in the human sense.
When a being lives, as sometimes happens, on an island of his own soul life, with a treasure he desires all people be able to share in — and he cannot share it because he sees that souls have degenerated to a level where they are incapable of receiving it. When such a being suffers in isolation, knowing something beyond the reach of those around him that he dearly wishes their souls to share in — then he or she is preparing for a life mission.
Such was the soul-life of Jesus of Nazareth from about his twelfth to his eighteenth year. Neither his bodily father, the Nathan-Joseph, nor his step-mother, the Solomon-Mary, nor his step-brothers and sisters understood him. Indeed his brothers and sisters often mocked him, regarding him as a semi-idiot. While he continued to work diligently in his father’s carpentry shed, he was haunted by the experiences I have described. When we enter into the life of such a soul who stands alone with one of the greatest treasures of knowledge; we can realize these feelings of loneliness and isolation in the soul of Jesus of Nazareth were a necessary preparation for what he would do in the Mystery of Golgotha.