Appendix One

To the section entitled “Mark’s Mysterious Youth in the Linen Cloth”

In the text, note was taken that Steiner identified the “young man” in Mk 14,51 as the Christ Spirit departing from Jesus of Nazareth. As there indicated, I shall here give the reasons why I suggest that it is complementary and not contradictory to my position that such passage seems clearly to refer to Lazarus/John.

Central to the marriage of both these versions into one is the remarkable disclosure by Steiner (and as far as I am aware, only by him) that no mineral-physical human body could ever house the Christ Spirit for more than three years because of its immense, searing spiritual power, so to speak. The Christ Spirit entered into Jesus of Nazareth at his Baptism in the Jordan when his own Ego withdrew to surrender his highly developed three bodies to Christ (cf. Heb 10,5b, “a body thou hast prepared for me”; Mt 3,16; Mk 1,10; Lk 3,22; Jn 1,32). Earthly death had to occur within three years.

On this as well as on other matters, I am indebted to Michael A. Streicher, of Wilmington, Delaware, whose father, J. S. Streicher, worked closely with Steiner on agricultural matters. Mike called my attention to a lecture by Steiner in Munich on January 9, 1912, a portion of which he had translated for a study group in which he and one of our sons is active. It is identified in the Steiner archives as GA130, and he calls the lecture, “The Esoteric Christianity of Christian Rosenkreutz.” (This is not the same lecture as another of the same date and place listed in the bibliography in The Burning Bush.). Shortly after I had delivered the lecture upon which this book is based, he gave me a copy of his translation, which is very close to the one in the extract below. The following passage from the lecture is taken from Cosmic Ego and Human Ego (CEHE), NY, SteinerBooks, and London, Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1941, long out of print but available from the Rudolf Steiner Library at Ghent, NY:

Jesus of Nazareth stood by the Jordan. His ego separated from the physical body, the etheric body and the astral body, and the macrocosmic Christ Being came down, took possession of these three bodies, and then lived until the 3rd of April of the year 33—as we have been able to determine. But it was a different kind of life; for, beginning from the baptism, this life of Christ in the body of Jesus of Nazareth was a slow process of dying. With each advancing period of time during these three years, something of the sheaths of Jesus of Nazareth died away, so to speak. Slowly these sheaths died, so that after three years the entire body of Jesus of Nazareth was already close to the condition of a corpse, and was only held together by the power of the macrocosmic Christ Being. You must not suppose that this body in which the Christ dwelt was like any other body—let us say a year and a half after the John baptism in the Jordan; it was in such a state that an ordinary human soul would have felt at once that it was falling away from him—because it could only be held together by the powerful macrocosmic Christ Being. It was a constant, slow dying, which continued through three years. And this body had reached the verge of dissolution when the Mystery of Golgotha took place. Then it was only necessary that those people mentioned in the narrative should come to the body with their strange preparation of spices and bring about a chemical union between these special substances and the body of Jesus of Nazareth, in which the macrocosmic Christ Being had dwelt for three years, and then that they should place it in the grave. Very little was needed then to cause this body to become dust; and the Christ Spirit clothed Himself with an etheric body condensed, one might say, to physical visibility. So the risen Christ was enveloped in an etheric body condensed to physical visibility; and thus He went about and appeared to those to whom He could appear. He was not visible to everyone, because it was actually only a condensed etheric body which the Christ bore after the resurrection; but that which had been placed in the grave disintegrated and became dust. And according to the latest occult investigations, it is confirmed that there was an earthquake. It was astonishing to me to discover, after I had found from occult investigation that an earthquake had taken place, that this is indicated in the Matthew Gospel. The earth divided and the dust of the corpse fell in, and became united with the entire substance of the earth. In consequence of the violent shaking of the earth, the cloths were placed as they were said to have been found, according to the description in the John Gospel. It is wonderfully described in the Gospel of St. John.

I experienced a unique joy in reading this passage, for it resolved for me a puzzle that had existed from early in my studies of Steiner. The first anthroposophical meeting of any sort that I attended was a meditation conference at the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico in about 1990. During a question and answer period, I asked the then general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, the late Werner Glas, how Steiner’s version of what happened to the mineral-physical body of Jesus as set out in his lecture From Jesus to Christ (JTC), rev. ed., London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973 (Lect. 8; Oct. 12, 1911) could be reconciled with the version he gave two years later in the cycle The Fifth Gospel (FG), 2d ed., London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968 (Lect. 2, Oct. 2, 1913). In JTC he had given the “dust” version, and in FG he had given the “earthquake” version, both as set out in the above extract from CEHE. The two seemed incompatible to me early in my studies. Glas could not answer the question other than to say that normally where one sees a seeming contradiction in Steiner’s works, one should read on and will thus find them not to be contradictory. I had already experienced that in the short period of months since I began studying Steiner, but until I read the above excerpt I had never found a resolution. I once posed a suggested answer to a prominent anthroposophical author from Europe (Otto Wolff, M.D.) who doubted my suggestion but gave me no further solution. Now, with this extract, coming only three months after the earlier JTC lecture, Steiner has already given the version later to be found in FG and has done so in a manner so as to bring them together. I had already concluded the same thing in my mind, though it was not the same suggestion I made to Wolff, nor was I overly confident that it would be Steiner’s answer. One who has not gone through this type of struggle with Steiner’s works can hardly understand the scope of my joy at finding his answer so simply set forth.

It is on the basis of just such experiences as this that I have suggested that the two versions of the identity of the “young man” in Mk 14,51 are complementary rather than contradictory.

The “dust” from the above version was more fully explained in JTC. After explaining how such an advanced “body” was prepared for the entry of the Christ into Jesus of Nazareth at thirty years of age (see my The Incredible Births of Jesus), Steiner gives the following fuller account of the “dust” version:

During these three years, from the Baptism by John in Jordan onwards to the Mystery of Golgotha, the development of the physical body, the etheric body and the astral body was quite different from the bodily development of other human beings. Since the Nathan Jesus1 had received no influence from the Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers, the possibility was given that, from the Baptism in the Jordan onwards—now that there was in Jesus of Nazareth no human Ego, but solely the Christ Individuality—everything which is normally at work in a human organism was not developed.

We said yesterday that the human Phantom [Steiner’s term for the unmaterialized human body], the primal form which draws into itself the material elements that fill out the physical body and are laid aside at death, had degenerated in the course of time up to the Mystery of Golgotha. At the beginning of human evolution it was intended that the Phantom should remain untouched by the material elements that man takes for his nutrition from the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms. But it did not remain untouched. For the Luciferic influence brought about a close connection between the Phantom and the forces which man absorbs through his earthly evolution; a connection particularly with the ashy constituents. The result was that the Phantom, while continuing to accompany man during his further evolution, was strongly drawn to these ashy constituents, and instead of adhering to the etheric body, it attached itself to these products of disintegration. But where the Luciferic influences had been kept away, as they were from the Nathan Jesus, no force of attraction arose between the Phantom and the material elements that had been taken into the bodily organism. Throughout the three years from the Baptism up to the Mystery of Golgotha, the Phantom remained untouched by these elements.

In occult terms we can say: The Phantom, according to its intended development through the Saturn, Sun and Moon periods [the three pre-earthly Conditions of Consciousness in human evolution, when the seeds of the three bodies were successively laid; our Saturday, Sunday and Monday come from these roots], should not have been attracted to the ashy constituents but only to the dissolving salt constituents, so that it would have taken the path of volatilization insofar as the salt constituents dissolved. In an occult sense one can say that it would have dissolved and passed over, not into the earth but into the volatile constituents. The remarkable fact is that with the Baptism in Jordan and the entry of the Christ Individuality into the body of the Nathan Jesus, all connection of the Phantom with the ashy constituents was wiped out; only the connection with the salt constituents remained.

This is alluded to in the passage where Christ Jesus wishes to explain to his first-chosen disciples: “Through the way in which you feel yourselves united with the Christ Being, a certain possibility for the future evolution of humanity will come about. It will be possible for the one body risen from the grave—the spiritual body—to pass over into men.” That is what Christ wished to say when he used the phrase, “You are the salt of the Earth” [MT 5,13]. All these words we find in the Gospels, reminding us [that] the terminology and craft language of the later alchemists, the later occultism, have the deepest imaginable significance. And in fact this significance was well known to the mediaeval and later alchemists—not to the charlatans mentioned in the history books—and not one of them spoke of these connections without feeling in his heart a connection with Christ.

Thus it followed that when Christ Jesus was crucified, when his body was nailed to the Cross ... the Phantom was perfectly intact; it existed in a spiritual bodily form, visible only to supersensible sight, and was much more loosely connected with the body’s material content of earth-elements than has ever happened with any other human being. In every other human being a connection of the Phantom with these elements has occurred, and it is this that holds them together. In the case of Christ Jesus it was quite different. The ordinary law of inertia sees to it that certain material portions of a human body hold together after death in the form man has given them, until after some time they crumble away, so that hardly anything of them is visible. So it was with the material portions of the body of Christ Jesus. When the body was taken down from the Cross, the parts were still coherent, but they had no connection with the Phantom; the Phantom was completely free of them. When the body became permeated with certain substances, which in this case worked quite differently from the way in which they affect any other body that is embalmed, it came to pass that after the burial the material parts quickly volatilized and passed over into the elements. Hence the disciples who looked into the grave found the linen cloths in which the body had been wrapped, but the Phantom, on which the evolution of the Ego depends, had risen from the grave. It is not surprising that Mary of Magdala, who had known only the earlier Phantom when it was permeated by earthly elements, did not recognize the same form in the Phantom, now freed from terrestrial gravity, when she saw it clairvoyantly. It seemed to her different.

Moreover we must clearly understand that it was only through the power of the companionship of the disciples with the Christ that all the disciples, and all those persons of whom the same is told, could see the Risen One, for he appeared to them in the spiritual body, the body of which Paul says that it increases as a grain of seed and passes over into all people. Paul himself is convinced that it was not a body permeated by the earthly elements which had appeared to the other apostles, but that the same which had appeared to him had also appeared to them [quoting 1 Cor 15,3-8].

More briefly, the later passage in FG read:

That earthquake followed upon the darkening of the Sun. It shook the grave in which the body of Jesus had been laid and the stone covering it was wrenched away; a fissure was rent in the Earth and the corpse was received into it. Another tremor caused the fissure to close again over the corpse. And when the people came in the morning the grave was empty, for the dead body of Jesus had been received into the Earth.

The passage in CEHE makes it clear that it was the salt “dust” that then represented the “body” that fell into the Earth. The grave would have been empty of any recognizable mineral-physical body even without the earthquake.

The phenomenon that no earthly human body could have held within it the immense Christ Spirit for more than three years is beautifully depicted in the first chapter of Steiner’s little book, The Spiritual Guidance of Man (SGM), Hudson (then Spring Valley), NY, Anthroposophic Press, Inc., 1950. It is mentioned again more briefly at the end of lecture six (Jan. 16, 1911) in the cycle entitled Background to the Gospel of St. Mark, NY, Anthroposophic Press, Inc., and London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968.

In the absence of these understandings, theology has been unable to come to a fuller understanding of the beautiful double meaning of Christ’s cry from the Cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Ps 22,1; Mk 15,34; MT 27,46). Scholars are divided over whether Jesus intended to express the words of confidence found later in that Psalm or whether he felt that God had abandoned him (see The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8, p. 723). Steiner’s explanation shows the reality that there was indeed a victory (“It is finished”; Jn 19,30) and that the Christ Spirit had finally slipped fully away from the dying body of Jesus, for no Cross could kill that, and it “descended to the dead” during the interval before Resurrection morning; Steiner quotes Mk 15,34 at the point in his lecture cycle on Mark’s Gospel where he gives his interpretation of Mk 14,51. And he expresses the joyful aspect of it in his discussion of MT 27,46, explaining that in the ancient mysteries, at the point where the initiate has been raised from the temple sleep, who then exults, “My God, my God, how thou has glorified me!” (see The Gospel of St. Matthew, 4th ed., NY, Anthroposophic Press, Inc., and London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965, Lect. 12, Sept. 12, 1910). This again is an example of how one passage can have two meanings. Virtually all scripture must be read with this understanding. It was the essence of the ancient mysteries and of all esoteric writings that their “sayings” have one meaning to the initiated and a different one for the uninitiated. The Bible, from beginning to end, is an esoteric book. As an extremely high initiate, Steiner was able to give both meanings. Unfortunately, he did not always give them at the same place or at the same time. But this understanding vindicates the effort to show that the two interpretations of Mk 14,51 are complementary. In fact, both of them are esoteric, and theology has consequently wrestled with them without resolution.

If we now look back at what was said in the text proper about the deeper meaning of the scriptural term “naked,” we can see that the soul, the Ego, of Lazarus/John was united with the escaping Christ Spirit as they both stood “naked.” It was a joining of the higher “I Am” of Christ with the lower “I Am” of Lazarus/John (see the “I Am” essay in The Burning Bush, as well its essay “Second Coming”). They were joined together in the Earth’s etheric world, the world in which the second coming is now underway. This seems to be the clear meaning of the Secret Gospel passage where it is said of the youth with the linen cloth over his naked body, “And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God.” It is Mark’s Gospel who has revealed, in its esoteric version, that Lazarus was the “rich, young ruler” who was initiated by Christ when the failures of the others had become clear to Jesus. I am unable to comprehend how he could have used the same language (“the young man ... with nothing but a linen cloth about his body”) later with a different meaning—only more complete, for he here ties it more closely to “the mystery of the kingdom of God.”

In support of Steiner’s revelation about the gradual separation of the Christ Spirit from Jesus of Nazareth during the three years, one other thing should be considered. As I write, I am unable to lay my hands upon a lecture where, as I recall, Steiner points out in connection with this phenomenon that most of the “mighty works” (Acts 2,22) of the early Christian kerygma (preaching) took place in the earlier portions of the three-year ministry. Gradually, as death approached, the ministry moved away from these toward a teaching of the disciples about the meaning of his approaching Passion, Death and Resurrection. At the end he stood as a human body largely consumed by the Divine Spirit, so weak that he could not, as others did, carry his own Cross. That Jesus of Nazareth was the one seen by Second Isaiah in the suffering servant passages, especially Is 42,1-4, was pointed out in The Burning Bush (pp. 257, 259 in fn 9 and 511). What also becomes clearer here is how Isaiah also saw and prophesied in Is 53 about the waning strength of Jesus. That he grew up “like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground” suggests that once he was Incarnated he withered under the Christ power as a plant withers in dry ground, for the material bodies cannot withstand the full fire of the Christ Spirit for long. Hence “he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hid their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.... [He was] smitten by God, and afflicted.” All this contrasts starkly with his all-around beauty at age thirty (see Lk 2,52 and 3,23).

Finally, in connection with the passage in the text proper where I discuss the “young man ... in a white robe” in the tomb on Easter morning (Mk 16,5), I see this as also probably being Lazarus/John. That Mk 14,51 and 16,5 both describe the same “young man” is recognized as probable by prominent Christian theologians as there indicated. In Steiner’s cited discussion of the matter in the Mark lecture cycle, he makes it clear that it is the same Christ Spirit both places. That the “naked” soul of Lazarus/John was dwelling with the Christ Spirit and “phantom” there would seem to follow, whether or not John’s Gospel indicates that Lazarus/John went with Peter away from the tomb to his own home.

The conclusion that the“fleeing youth in the linen cloth” is both Lazarus/John and the Christ Spirit, thus making them complementary rather than contradictory in nature, is supported by Welburn’s excellent Epilogue (“Return of the Youth in the Linen Cloth”) in The Beginnings of Christianity. He there concludes, in connection with Jn 21,22, consistently with what has been given herein, that “Surely this is the spiritual truth behind the clumsy rumor that ‘this disciple would never die.’” He represented “the cosmic impulse of the Christ.” See also Morton Smith's "Two Ascended to Heaven—Jesus the Author of 4Q491," in Background, Footnote 2.

Appendix 2