Foreword

My first book, The Burning Bush, was published by SteinerBooks in 1997. It has been described by several, both in this country and abroad, in superlatives, recognized by them as being very scholarly and of extensive scope. It is thoroughly documented throughout by extensive references, biblical and otherwise, as well as by numerous study helps. But some have suggested the need for a more simplified version of some of its topics—one that flows more easily for the average reader. The Incredible Births of Jesus was the first result of that endeavor. It was based upon “The Nativity” essay in The Burning Bush.

The Nativity was just one of the countless theological knots untied by Rudolf Steiner’s intuition, his gift of prophecy. What follows in this book is another, resolving the mystery surrounding the character and identity of Evangelist John. To a large degree it is based upon the essays “Peter, James and John” and “Egypt” in The Burning Bush.

As mentioned in the Introduction, this book is based upon a paper I gave in New York City in November, 1999. But my choice of topic for that occasion was driven by an already existing plan for this second, simplified version from the larger book.

Consider if you will that almost the entire New Testament was written by, or under the powerful influence of, only two men, Paul and Evangelist John. Only the Gospels of Matthew and Mark and the four short letters of James, Peter and Jude fall outside their scope. Clearly the Luke-Acts combination fell under Paul’s influence, and anthroposophical insights confirm ancient tradition and convincingly show Paul to have authored Hebrews and Evangelist John the book of Revelation.

The realization that the New Testament is largely a product of these two takes on added meaning when joined with the insight that these were the only two who were clearly initiated by Christ, or at least were the two most highly initiated by him—John during Christ’s earthly life and Paul after his Resurrection in the episode generally known as the Damascus Road experience. The nature and consequence of initiation is touched upon in this book, though more fully described in The Burning Bush and the Steiner works upon which it is based. But it can be said that the high initiation each of these experienced brought insights to them from the spiritual world that have not been, and are still far from being, common within humanity. They served different missions from each other, and within their respective missions they wrote quite differently for different purposes. Paul’s dominant product was the corpus of his church letters, each one focusing on an ad hoc circumstance with advice and guidance pertinent to that occasion, while his writing to the Hebrews was his more considered exposition on the meaning of the Christ mission. John also wrote letters, but they were overshadowed by the two monumental and disparate pillars of his work, the Gospel and the Apocalypse. Steiner refers to John’s Gospel as the highest writing given humanity. And no book of the Bible benefits more from the prophecy of Rudolf Steiner, nor cries out for it more, than John’s Apocalypse. Anthroposophy shows that it has little, if any, of the character ascribed to it by theology to date—though no book has brought greater expressions of humility or frustration from its more candid students than Revelation. To date it has belied its title. While Revelation is beyond the scope of this little book, what the reader finds here should open new windows of expectation in the student’s mind as to what this spiritual giant gives us in all his writings.

Readers accustomed to more conventional theological approaches may find portions of the “Background” material unsettling at first. It will be helpful in those cases to accept these concepts tentatively until the whole story unfolds. As that happens one can thrill to the sense of the Bible taking on the image of one beautiful, integrated spiritual account consistent from beginning to end, unveiling its mysteries with wonderful new (while in fact old) meaning.

Finally, several have made the suggestion that the word “anthroposophy,” not found in many English (at least American) dictionaries until quite recently, be defined. My newest dictionary, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th ed., NY, Macmillan, 1999, gives the following: “a religious or mystical system or movement similar to theosophy, founded by Rudolf Steiner about 1912.” Steiner initiated his public, spiritual disclosures about 1901 under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, and as the General Secretary of its German section, and for a number of years thereafter called his work theosophy. However, his emphasis upon the centrality of the Christ Spirit in any theosophical system estranged him from the Indian Theosophists whereupon he parted from them and thereafter called his work anthroposophy. This parting occurred toward the end of the period when he focused his lectures primarily and specifically upon the Bible (generally 1908-1914). So while the above dictionary definition is generally adequate for common usage, it is not sufficiently so for more discriminating students.

Steiner coined the term “anthroposophy” for his intuitions of the spiritual world and its relation to the world we perceive with our ordinary senses. He also called it by the synonymous phrase, “spiritual science.” Anthroposophy is a combination of the two Greek root words, anthropos, and sophia. The latter, with a capital, is defined in our dictionaries as “wisdom,” and given a feminine attribute. The Sophia is personified as the feminine “Wisdom” in the first nine chapters of Proverbs. Our common suffix “sophy” derives from it and means “knowledge or thought,” as in “philosophy,” “theosophy,” and the like.

Anthropos should be distinguished from homo, a Latin word referring to a two-legged primate. We should think of homo as referring to the body, and anthropos as referring to what sets the human being above the animal. It represents the higher aspect, the soul, or the soul and the spirit, of the human being. Thus, “anthroposophy” is the wisdom of the soul of the human being.

My larger work, of which The Burning Bush is Vol. 1, is entitled Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy and the Holy Scriptures, an Anthroposophical Commentary on the Bible. Its second volume, What Is Man?, should be published in 2001.

I hope and trust you will experience, as you read on, new insights enriching your own spiritual journey.

   
Introduction
The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved