David's Question
What Is Man? (Psalm 8:4) Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy, and the Holy Scriptures: An Anthroposophical Commentary on the Bible
Edward Reaugh Smith
ISBN: 0880105003
Book (Paperback)
SteinerBooks, Anthroposophic Press
6 x 9 1/4
560 pages
September 2001
Buy It Now


This volume is the sequel to The Burning Bush, the first volume in a series envisioned as a complete Bible commentary based upon the "anthroposophical" understanding given to humanity by Rudolf Steiner during the first quarter of the twentieth century.

While this volume has a vital connection with The Burning Bush, it can nevertheless stand alone and be profitably considered without necessarily having first absorbed the contents of its predecessor. The thesis of The Burning Bush, fairly stated in the first sentence of its General Introduction, is that "the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15,11-32) is an allegory [about the human soul] in which Christ crystallizes the full Bible message." The thesis of the present volume is best approximated by the title thought on p. vi: science and religion, which were one in ancient times, must again become one if either is to be fulfilled. And it is the work of Rudolf Steiner, probably more than any other, that points to powerful forces of mutual attraction within these two paradigms, so often at odds historically--forces suppressed by each discipline as traditionally practiced, even by those who conscientiously profess to be both religious and scientific.

Steiner called his work "anthroposophy"1 and also, more apropos for our present purposes, "spiritual science." The very phrase suggests the marriage of two polarities in human evolution.

Those familiar with the first volume will notice some changes in format and style in this volume. My general approach here, as in the earlier volume, is to include essays on what I see to be key "Words and Phrases." However, the practice of capitalizing these phrases in the text and placing them in quotes, as was done discontinued here, except where reference is made to the title of an essay itself. It served its purpose there, as an introductory work, but could become more disruptive than helpful if carried over into this and future. volumes.

In the text the references in bold having a hyphen and an Arabic numeral (1-4, e.g) refer to the Charts and Tabulations, which present key ideas of anthroposophy. The Roman numeral refers to the volume number where the chart first appears. There are only a few new charts for this volume but there are many references to ones from The Burning Bush. Due to space considerations, not all of those charts are included here, but the most imporant and most frequently cited ones are reproduced in the appendix.

The Bibliography in Volume One is a research tool by itself, listing chronologically and by lecture location all Steiner titles available in the English language, insofar as I was able to identify them at the time. The Bibliography in this volume lists only wor. or were not included in the first volume. Readers who have a copy of the original edition of The Burning Bush should note that a revised edition is now in print. The substantive changes in it are quite limited. Those who do not have access to a revised copy can see the nature of the changes in the Preface to the Revised Edition.

Shortly after publication of The Burning Bush upon the helpful recommendation and advice of friends and associated, this larger project was expanded to include the publication of smaller books written in a more popular style, focusing upon limited portions of the larger volumes. Two of these "little books," derived from The Burning Bush, have been published to date: The Incredible Births of Jesus, summarizing "The Nativity" essay, and The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, focusing largely upon the "Peter, James and John" and "Egypt" essays. Where relevant, these little books are cited in this volume.

Since this book attempts to relate both science and theology on what it deems a higher level than either now occupies, the word science appears frequently. By definition, science means the state of knowing. Since the thrust of this work is that there are critically important areas where science fails to know, or "knows" things that are not real or true in the deepest sense, I have been tempted to put the word in quotes. But I have not done so. Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the term science as used herein refers broadly to the pertinent domains of learning exclusive of what can be known through, and in contradistinction from, the spiritual science (or anthroposophy) advanced by Rudolf Steiner.

The policy of avoiding sexist writing followed in the first volume continues in this one with these addenda. First, the title of this book and the essay would seem to visibly violate this principle. Quotation marks are used to emphasize the historical prominence of the phrase as it is. Happily, several modern translations have gotten away from the male implications of the patriarchal versions.2 The problem is that they are neither well enough known nor sufficiently uniform to convey precisely this passage, with all it entails, in the eighth Psalm. Therefore, I feel that too much is lost in focusing on the subject matter if the traditional language is not used in the title. The second addendum is to comment on the use of the traditional "Father-Son" language within the doctrinal Trinity. The term "Creator-God" is sometimes used instead of "Father." But because Christ spoke in terms of the "Father," even if metaphorically, it is difficult in all cases to break away from Gospel language. Even those translations that translate Ps 8,4 in the sex-free "human" mode uniformly use Christ's reference to the Father. Those bothered by these concessions to tradition should take note, however, of the clear stand to the contrary taken with respect to the asexual nature of the Creator God and the Christ, and thus the Holy Trinity, in the essay entitled "Darkness"

Finally, as this volume was essentially ready for printing I received the newly published The Fourth Dimension/Sacred Geometry, Alchemy, and Mathematics (FD), AP, 2001, including a 1905 five-lecture cycle and other items by Steiner not previously published in English. My brief inspection is this work suggests its relevance to topics covered in this volume.


Without the warm encouragement, advice and assistance of Mary, Chris and Michael at the Press since the early days of my anthroposophical studies, this book surely could not have come about. How beautifully coincidental their parallel to the high spiritual trinity of Mary/Christopher/Michael.Will's helpful suggestions and meticulous editing of the manuscript protect me from much embarrassment in both form and substance.The many persons in this country and abroad who have spoken highly of The Burning Bush have encouraged me greatly in the preparation of this sequel. But it is Jo Anne, whose companionship and love are always there, who has sacrificed the most to make this book possible.