The Archangel Michael
The net result of the theology developed over the last two centuries is to consign to the genealogies of Jesus no significant meaning whatsoever, being at best an acknowledgment by the Evangelists of the expectation that Jesus was to be descended from David and an effort to show, however mysteriously, erroneously and inconsistently, how it was so. In truth Christendom came to this point almost from the beginning, though in the early centuries there was an instinctive recognition of their validity that was gradually lost with the passage of time up through the Renaissance. It had to be this way because they were among those things that humanity was not yet ready to understand, or could not “bear,” to use Jesus’ words. Only a divine Providence caused them to be perceived by the Evangelists who put them down for the day when a new light would begin to dawn, when, as Jesus said, the Spirit of Truth would begin to work in humanity (Jn 16,12-13).
Up until the Renaissance there was within Christendom a high respect for the spiritual hierarchies between the Trinity and humanity, from the seraphim to the angels. As my larger work shows and as indicated in the text above, Paul was intimately acquainted with these and spoke of many of them in his letters. Dante and Aquinas, as well as numerous other Christian authorities, spoke of them. But with the evolution of human thinking since the Renaissance, knowledge of and faith in these spiritual ranks has been lost. It is most significant that only in the last few years has there been a reawakening within the human soul to the world of the angels. This phenomenon alone is a very real circumstance pointing to the irresistible, burgeoning power of the Spirit of Truth in our time.
While Steiner did not, to my knowledge, explicitly identify the Archangel Michael as the “Spirit of truth” referred to by Christ in Jn 16,13, presumably because at that stage his hearers were not yet ready for it, he nevertheless spoke so pointedly and so often of Michael in such terms as to lead us powerfully in that direction. And while he identified the year 1879 as the precise time that a “new age of Michael,” his new “regency,” the first since the days of Christ, commenced, he pointed to the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the third millennium as a time of the greatest spiritual significance. So many things that he said have been corroborated by discoveries since his death that he seems to fulfill even the test prescribed for prophets during the period when prophecy was fading (“And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word which the Lord has spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the Lord has not spoken,” Deut 18,21-22).
In the main text above, it is shown that the first modern Bible commentary and the first modern introduction of the idea of reincarnation in the Western world were both focused upon the time surrounding the year 1879.
In its discussion of the term “paraclete,” the Anchor Bible dictionary (5 ABD 152) cites Christian scholars who either identify Michael with the Spirit of Truth (Betz) or as a model of the Johannine paraclete (Mowinckel, Johansson).
The Christian canon can hardly be interpreted other than as showing Michael to be the one spirit who alone stands with Christ for truth. Thus, Dan 10,21 says, “I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these [“the prince of the kingdom of Persia,” whom we may take to be the worldly powers] except Michael, your prince.”
And in John’s Apocalypse it is Michael who leads the fight against “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev 12,7-9). Jude also recognizes “the archangel Michael” as the one “contending with the devil ... about the body of Moses.” In the light of anthroposophical insight, one can more fully appreciate what is meant by “the body of Moses,” seeing that it was a misunderstanding of the Mosaic law that led to the death of Christ (“If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me” Jn 5,46), and that it is the same literal, prosaic type of understanding of holy writ in our own day that so obscures the deeper, and seemingly mysterious, meanings of the Bible (cf. 2 Cor 3).
Moreover, it is widely recognized that Michael is the one archangel Paul refers to (“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God,” 1 Thess 4,16), as Steiner also has said, though the full meaning of this Pauline verse awaits additional insight, as shown in The Burning Bush.
Christian scholars are virtually unanimous in recognizing the immense influence of the Book of Enoch upon the writers of the New Testament canon. At the time of Christ it had fallen into disuse among Hebrew authorities, but was looked upon as inspired scripture by many Christians. That it failed to enter the Christian canon can only be attributed to the fading of insight that would make it intelligible in the formalization process of the doctrines and canon of Christianity. One with anthroposophical insight will see in it a new blossoming of meaning in our time. It is virtually replete with references to Michael as the spokesman for truth among the heavenly powers.
Since few other than scholars have ready access to it, consider its following selected passages (taken from The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, London, Oxford University Press, 1978):
Enoch 20,1,5: (1) And these are the names of the holy angels who keep watch.... (5) Michael, one of the holy angels, namely the one put in charge of the best part of mankind, in charge of the nation.
Enoch 24,3 through 25,3: 24 (3) And (there was) a seventh mountain in the middle of these, ... and fragrant trees surrounded it. (4) And there was among them a tree such as I have never smelt, and none of them nor any others were like it: it smells more fragrant than any fragrance, and its leaves and its flowers and its wood never wither; its fruit (is) good, and its fruit (is) like the bunches of dates on a palm. (5) And then I said: “Behold, this beautiful tree? Beautiful to look at and pleasant (are) its leaves, and its fruit very delightful in appearance.” (6) And then Michael, one of the holy and honoured angels who was with me and (was) in charge of them, answered me 25 (1) and said to me: “Enoch why do you ask me about the fragrance of this tree, and (why) do you inquire to learn?” (2) Then I, Enoch, answered him, saying: “I wish to learn about everything, but especially about this tree.” (3) And he answered me, saying: “This high mountain which you saw, whose summit is like the throne of the Lord, is the throne where the Holy and Great One, the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit when he comes to visit the earth for good.”
Enoch 40,8-10: (8) And after this I asked the angel of peace who went with me and showed me everything which is secret: “Who are these four figures whom I have seen and whose words I have heard and written down?” (9) And he said to me: “This first one is the holy Michael, the merciful and long-suffering; and the second, who (is) in charge of all the diseases and in charge of all the wounds of the sons of men, is Raphael; and the third, who (is) in charge of all the powers, is the holy Gabriel; and the fourth, who (is) in charge of the repentance (leading) to hope of those who will inherit eternal life, is Phanuel.” (10) And these (are) the four angels of the Lord Most High; and the four voices I heard in those days.”
Enoch 69,14-15: (14) And this one told the holy Michael that he should show him the secret name, that they might mention it in the oath, so that those who showed the sons of men everything which is secret trembled before that name and oath. (15) And this (is) the power of this oath, for it is powerful and strong; and he placed this oath Akae in the charge of the holy Michael.
Enoch 71,3-4: (3) And the angel Michael, one of the archangels, took hold of me by my right hand, and raised me, and led me out to all the secrets of mercy and the secrets of righteousness. (4) And he showed me all the secrets of the ends of heaven and all the storehouses of all the stars and the lights, from where they come out before the holy ones.
(Michael is also referred to in chapters 60, 67, 68 and later in 71, but the above seem most relevant.)
In accordance with the sevenfold nature of creation (Prov 9,1), there are seven archangels (Enoch 24 had spoken of “seven mountains” with Michael speaking, as above, in regard to the “seventh”) among whom Michael is acknowledged as supreme, he who is associated with the Sun. There is a sevenfold series of regencies, one for each successive archangel, so that each one is of something over three hundred years. Whether they are precisely equal or only approximately so has not been made clear, even by Steiner. In the fifteenth century, Johannes Tritheim, the Abbott of Sponheim, is said to have determined each archangelic period to be 354 1/3 years long. Perhaps significantly this is precisely one hundred times the length of twelve lunar synodic months (354 1/3 days each). If he is right and the current age of Michael began in 1879, then the prior age would have run from 601 to 247 B.C., encompassing, as Steiner indicated, the Greek sages Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle as well as the spreading of Greek civilization by Alexander in divine preparation for Paul’s evangelization of the Greek world. We know of Plato’s influence upon John’s Gospel. Socrates and Heraclitus were both singled out by Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 100-165) as Christians before the incarnation of Christ.
Not only did the critical study of modern theology begin around 1879, but the twentieth century has witnessed an explosion in human discovery of all kinds, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi library, and numerous other artifacts providentially buried until the time was right for their revelation. Conceivably the most significant of these is the mid-century discovery of the so-called “Secret Gospel of Mark,” discussed more fully in The Burning Bush, widely known among theologians but whose full meaning has yet to be apprehended by those not familiar with Steiner’s own revelations.
With these things in mind, let us look at some of what Steiner says about Michael and his “new age.”
That approximately three hundred fifty year “age” began, imperceptibly to most, to dawn in 1879. The last age of the Archangel Michael was before the time of Christ when the enlightenment of Plato and Aristotle was spread by Alexander over the area that the Apostle Paul was to evangelize in the Greek language.
Human understanding of the Christ, and of its own nature, had to wait then until the age of the highest Archangel returned again, the Archangel that Hebrew and Christian tradition has always associated with the Sun. It is Michael that strives with and for the Christ to administer the divine intelligence to humanity. And so when Christ spoke of the Spirit of Truth coming, it was of the time when the regency of the Archangel Michael would again return, as Daniel indicates.
It is symptomatic that the first stirrings in the development of modern theology and the first overt introduction of the concept of reincarnation in the West in modern times took place then. Steiner was eighteen years old in 1879, and at the turn of the century began to plant in human evolution his vast spiritual intuitions. Michael was beginning to rouse humanity from its slumber. But even then Steiner said that a momentous and critical time would follow upon the turn of the millennium ending the twentieth century. We are there.
In the fall of last year, 1997, my book The Burning Bush, was published by SteinerBooks, Hudson, NY. As the first Bible commentary1 written to show the Bible’s deeper meaning in the light of Steiner’s teachings, called “anthroposophy,” it attempts to bring into mainline Christendom magnificent new insights. Never before mentioned or cited in any Bible commentary, the gift of this true prophet needs now, three quarters of a century after his death, to come into the mind of those who are destined to lead Christianity forward on its upward path. When it does, Christianity can become more than one of the Earth’s divisive religions. The Sun can begin truly to shine upon all creation.
The day will come, and is hopefully not too far distant, when Christendom will look back upon its biblical understandings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries much as we today look back upon that of prior centuries, even of the dark ages. We will come back to a respect for what Plato gave to humanity in the prior age of Michael. The insights of that age were reflected in the works of the leading Jewish and early Christian theologians in Alexandria. Many of these works, such as those of Origen who recognized the pre-existence of the soul, were destroyed by the early Church. Their insight must be regained and transformed to an even greater luster than before, irradiated by the divine intelligence administered by Michael as an agent of Christ. For during the prior regency of Michael, the divine intelligence could not be brought to Earth inasmuch as the Christ had yet to walk the Earth in the flesh and spill into it his blood.
With that said, let us return to the matter of the descent of Jesus from David. Much has been discovered during this century, providentially hidden until now, that corroborates things Steiner said long before the discoveries. One of them is the Essenic expectation of two Messiahs, one kingly and one priestly. That expectation, vindicated by historical fact, was then reflected in the two Gospel accounts. The reason they seem to be in conflict is that they have thus far been assumed to tell of the birth of a single Jesus child. But their many differences reveal to us now that they tell quite accurately of the birth of two Jesus children, quite different in nature, each born to parents named Mary and Joseph. In both Gospels the angel gives the child’s name as Jesus. Whether both sets of parents originally bore the names Mary and Joseph, or whether they were given those names as a result of the function they performed, as happened with almost every major biblical character, is not really important. In truth, they were both Mary and Joseph just as Jacob was Israel, Simon was Peter and Saul was Paul.