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Christianity As Mystical Fact

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Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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Christianity As Mystical Fact


Robert Green Ingersoll (1833–1899), was an Illinois lawyer, a colonel in the Civil War, attorney general of Illinois, and a nationally-known political speaker. “His public addresses attacking the Bible and Christianity destroyed his political career, and his reputation as a speaker was based on his brilliant oratory rather than clear logic.” Ingersoll's writings and lectures were published posthumously in 12 volumes, New York, 1902.


Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882), English naturalist, whose voyage on the Beagle to the Southern Seas, recorded in his Journal of a Naturalist (1837) prepared the way for his famous work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Presentation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, published November 24, 1859. Next in importance among his books, The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, appeared in 1868. The Descent of Man, published in 1871, dealt with “the origin of man and his history” in the light of The Origin of the Species.

Ernst Heinrich Haeckel (1834–1919), German biologist, originally a physician in Berlin, became Privatdozent at Jena, afterward extraordinary professor of comparative anatomy, later professor of zoology, a chair established for him at Jena. This position he occupied for 43 years with intervals for zoological travels to various parts of the world. When Darwin's Origin of the Species appeared in 1859, Haeckel was deeply influenced by it, so that he became “the apostle of Darwinism in Germany.” Among his famous books were General Morphology (1866), Natural History of Creation (1867) and Die Weltraetsel (1899), English title, The Riddle of the Universe (1901). By his 60th birthday he had published 42 works of some 13,000 pages, plus many monographs. Rudolf Steiner knew Ernest Haeckel personally, and in his autobiography, Chapter 15, Steiner recorded a very perceptive impression of the great scientist.


Sir Charles Lyell (1797–1875), British geologist, was the author of the famous Principles of Geology, An Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface by Reference to Causes Now in Operation (Vol. 1, 1830; Vol. II, 1832). His Elements of Geology and his Antiquity of Man appeared in 1838 and 1863 respectively. His life-work, which included journeys to the United States and Canada, the Scandinavian countries, Sicily, Madiera, Teneriffe and elsewhere, resulted in the advancement of modern geology. On the occasion of the observance of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lyell, Rudolf Steiner wrote an appreciative article on his work which was published in Das Magazin für Litteratur, Berlin, November 27, 1897. Steiner also made a number of references to Lyell's work in his lectures (1900–1924).


Aeschylus was acquitted by the Areopagus on a charge of revealing the Eleusinian Mysteries. When charged with betraying the Mysteries, he replied, “I said the first thing which occurred to me.” Cf. Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea III, 1. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata II, 14: “Aeschylus, who divulged the Mysteries on the stage, was acquitted when being tried in the Areopagus on his showing that he had not been initiated.”


Goethe, Faust, Part I, 3456–3458:

Feeling is all in all;
Name is but sound and smoke,
Beclouding Heaven's glow.
   —Priest translation, 1941, p. 101


Sophocles, Fragment 719.


Plutarch, Moralia, De E apud Delphos, 392 A–E. (The E at Delphi, 17 and 18.)


Plutarch, Moralia, De defectu oraculorum, 417 C. (The Obsolescence of Oracles, 14.)


Cicero, De natura Deorum I, 119.


Xenophanes, Elegaic Poems 14, 15.


Xenophanes, Elegaic Poems (On Nature) 23.


Plato, Phaedo, 69 C.


The anonymous epigram reads: “Do not be in too great a hurry to get to the end of Heraclitus the Ephesian's book: the path is hard to travel. Obscurity is there, and darkness devoid of light. But if an initiate be your guide, the path shines brighter than sunlight.” Anth. Pal. Book IX, 540 (Cf. also Diogenes Laertius IX, 16).


“Heraclitus lays down his book ceremonially in the temple of Artemis. So some people say, he has purposely written it obscurely, so that only the able would approach it.” (Cf. Kranz: Vorsokratische Denker, p. 84.)


Heraclitus, Fragments 40, 41. Cf. Note 5, above.


Heraclitus, Fragment 78.


Heraclitus, Fragment 81.


Heraclitus, Fragment 127.


Heraclitus, Fragment 104, 52.


Heraclitus, Fragment 56 (Cf. 45).


Heraclitus, Fragment 67.


Heraclitus, Fragment 79.


Philo of Alexandria, De Migratione Abrahami, The Migration of Abraham, 89. (see Note 46, below)


Heraclitus, Fragment 44.


Heraclitus, Fragment 137.


Empedocles, Fragments 11, 12, 15, translated by John Burnet in his Early Greek Philosophy, Adam & Charles Black, London, 1952.


Empedocles, Fragment 112


Plato, Phaedo, 69 C.


Pindar, Fragment 137


Aristotle, Metaphysica A, Book I, Chapter 5.


Gregory of Nyssa (c 331–c 396), One of the four great Fathers of the Eastern Church, in Oratio catechetica magna, Chapter 10, modern edition edited by Krabinger, Munich, 1838.


Plato, Epistle VII, 341 C.


Plato, Phaedo, 58 E.


Plato, Phaedo, 64 A.


Plato, Phaedo, 64 D.


Plato, Phaedo, 65 B.


Plato, Phaedo, 66 A, 67 D, 67 E.


Plato, Phaedo, 68 C.


Plato, Phaedo, 79 D, 80 B, 81 A.


Plato, Phaedo, 106 B.


Plato, Timaeus, 27 C.


Plato, Timaeus, 48 D.


Plato, Timaeus, 22 C, 22 D.


Plato, Timaeus, 28 C.


Plato, Timaeus, 36 — “... like a great cross   .” Here Plato refers to the Greek letter &Chi, “Chi.”


Plato, Cratylus 400 BC: “... some say it (the body) is the tomb of the soul, their notion being that the soul is buried in the present life.” The Greek words for “body” and “tomb” suggest a mystical similarity between the two. This was a part of the Orphic doctrine.


Plato, Timaeus, 92 C.


Philo of Alexandria, De Profugis, I, 562. Philo or otherwise known as Philo Judaeus, a Jewish philosopher, was born at Alexandria in Egypt, c. 10 B.C., where he spent most of his life. In the year 40 A.D., he headed a Jewish embassy to Rome to petition the Emperor Gaius to refrain from requiring homage from the Jews as a divinity. Eusebius and other Church Fathers advanced a tradition that in Rome Philo met St. Peter, but this is not confirmed. Philo was the most important representative of Hellenistic Judaism, and his many writings extant are brilliant expositions of the Mosaic law and the Jewish religion.


Philo, Legum allegoriarum, Allegorical Interpretation, Lib. I, 19. (Includes commentary on Genesis 2:1–17) — “Book is Moses' name for the Logos of God in which has been inscribed and engraved the formation of the world.”


Philo, De confusione linguarum, The Confusion of Tongues, 63. A part of Philo's Allegories of the Sacred Laws, though published under a separate title. The work contains a commentary on Genesis 11:1–9


Philo, De poseritate, Caini, The Posterity and Exile of Cain, 101, 102. A part of Philo's Allegories of the Sacred Laws, this work includes commentary on Genesis 4:16–25.


Philo, De migratione Abrahami, The Migration of Abraham, 34, 35. Commentary on Genesis 12:1–6.


Philo, Quod a Deo mittantur somnia, On Dreams, that they are sent by God, II, 232. A commentary on the two dreams of Jacob, Genesis 28 and 29, and Book II refers to dreams of Joseph, the chief butler, the chief baker, and Pharaoh, Genesis 37, 40, 41.


Philo, Legum allegoriarum, Allegorical Interpretation, III, 29. See Note 47, above.


Hippolytus, born probably 2nd half of 2nd century A.D. in Rome; according to legend he was a Roman soldier converted by St. Lawrence. Died c. 326 in Rome. Steiner's reference is to Hippolytus' The Refutation of All Heresies, Book V, ch. 3. Otherwise known as the Philosophumena, Book I was long printed with the works of Origen, Books 2 and 3 have been lost, and Books 4 through 10 were found in ms. form at Mount Athos by a Greek scholar in 1842.


Sallust the Platonist, De Diis et mundo, Concerning Gods and the Universe, Par. III. Translated by A. D. Nock, Cambridge University Press, 1926.


Plotinus, 5th Ennead, The Divine Mind, 8th Tractate, On Intellectual Beauty, 6. Plotinus (204–269 A.D.) was born of Roman parents in Egypt. Studied under Ammonius Saccas at Alexandria, attempted to go to the East to study philosophy there, but finally reached Rome where he established himself as a teacher of philosophy. He attracted a circle of distinguished pupils, including the Emperor Gallienus and his wife. Not long before his death, Plotinus collected his writings and arranged them in a series of 6 Enneads, later edited by his famous pupil, Porphyry. The Enneads “are the most authoritative exposition of Neoplatonism.”


Plato, Phaedrus, 229 D, E, 230 A.


Empedocles, Fragment 26.


Empedocles, Fragment 20.


Homer, Odyssey, Book I, 1–5.


The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Chapter 125, 19–22. Papyrus of NU.


Augustine, St., one of the four great Fathers of the Latin Church, born 354 in Tagaste, Numidia, and died as Bishop of Hippo during the siege of that city by the Vandals in 430. Steiner's reference is to Augustine's work, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus called Fundamental, par. 6.


The Christmas Antiphon to which Steiner refers is found in the Breviarium Romanum, and appears just before the end of the Christmas section, In Nativitate Domini, headed Ad Magnificat Antiphona:

Hodie Christus natus est; hodie Salvator apparuit:
hodie in terra canunt Angeli, laetantur Archangeli:
hodie exultant justi, dicentes: Gloria in excelsis
Deo, alleluia.


Adolf Harnack (1851–1930), well-known German professor of theology, editor of Works of the Apostolic Fathers (1877), author of essays on New Testament literature and history, and the Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, History of Dogma, 1885 (English transl. 7 vols. 1894–99). In 1892 he published an important controversial work on the Apostles' Creed, in 1893 a history of early Christianity, in 1900 a very popular work published in English translation as What is Christianity, (referred to by Rudolf Steiner in this book), and a number ot other works, some translated into English, among them being Luke the Physician (1907) and The Sayings of Jesus (1908). Rudolf Steiner frequently referred to the work of Harnack in his lectures.


Numenius of Apameia in Syria (latter half 2nd century AD), a Neo-Pythagorean philosopher and forerunner of the Neo-Platonists, is one of those reputed to have spoken to this effect, calling Plato “an Atticizing Moses.”


John 11:50 — “Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.”


The Talmud, Hagigah, Chapter II, 14 b: “Our Rabbis taught: Four men entered the Garden (the Paradise) (or, ascended to heaven;) ... the first of them cast a look and died ... The second looked and became demented ... The third mutilated the shoots. Rabbi Akiba returned unscathed.” (This translation is from The Soncino Talmud, published by The Soncino Press Ltd., London, and is used by permission of that organization through S. M. Bloch, Director.)


Ernest Renan (1823–1892), French philosopher and Orientalist. During a journey to the Middle East (1860–61) Renan began work on his Life of Jesus in Syria, using the New Testament and the Works of Josephus as his sole books of reference. The book appeared in June, 1863 and had an immense sale at once. George Eliot and George Henry Lewes collaborated on the English translation, which was very popular, and Renan became widely known in the English-speaking world. Rudolf Steiner made many references to the thought and work of Renan in his lectures.


See Note 44, above, and also:

Plato, Gorgias, 493 A.
Philo, De specialibus legibus IV, 188: “The human mind (is) ... entombed in a mortal body which may quite properly be called a sepulchre.”
Philo, Legum allegoriarum I, 108: “The sould is dead and has been entombed in the body as in a sepulchre.”


Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775–1854), the well-known German philosopher and professor at Jena (1798–1803), at Würzburg (1803–06) Munich (1806–41) and, as a member of the Academy, at Berlin (1841–45). His works influenced many of his contemporaries, and the four volumes of his Berlin lectures, published posthumously by his sons, have given him immortality: Introduction to the Philosophy of Mythology (publ. 1856), The Philosophy of Mythology (1857) and The Philosophy of Revelation, 2 vols. (1858). Rudolf Steiner discussed Schelling's contribution to the development of modern philosophy from many points of view on a number of occasions, particularly in lectures given between 1900 and 1924.


A tradition exists that similar words were also said to the Emperor Julian the Apostate, whose interest in Neoplatonism is well known, and that Aedesius sent Julian to two of his pupils, one of whom was Maximos.


See Goethe's poem, Selige Sehnsucht:

Und so lang du das nicht hast
Dieses: Stirb und Werde!
Bist du nur ein trueber Gast
Auf der dunklen Erde.
If not of this rule possessed:
“Die and come to life,”
Thou art but a sorry guest
In the darkness of earth.


Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897), Swiss writer on art and professor at Basel and Zuerich. His Die Zeit Constantins der Grossen, The Time of Constantine the Great, appeared in 1853, his Der Cicerone in 1855, and his two most famous works, Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien, The Culture of the Renaissance in Italy, and his Geschichte der Renaissance in Italien, History of the Renaissance in Italy, appeared in 1860 and 1867 respectively. These works have been translated into English, and Burckhardt's name is well-known in America among students of art history. Rudolf Steiner made frequent reference to Burckhardt, and in his own extensive series of lectures on art history and appreciation, given during World War I Steiner expanded some of the ideas Burckhardt had advanced.


Whenever Steiner quoted Martin Luther's translation of the Bible, the corresponding Authorized (King James) Version is given in this book. However, particularly in his quotations from the Apocalypse, Steiner's text sometimes coincides with neither the Greek original nor the Luther Version. In the first instance the present text as rendered in this book was translated directly from Steiner's German, and in the second, the Revised Standard Version proved to be nearer the German.


Philo, De specialibus legibus, The Special Laws, I, 47.


Philo, De vita contemplativa, About the Contemplative Life, or the Fourth Book of the Treatise Concerning the Virtues, critically edited with a defense of its genuineness by F. C. Conybeare, M.A., Oxford, 1895. This work is of great interest because it “contains the sole account of an ascetic community known as the Therapeutae having their home on the shores of Lake Mareotis.”


Philo, De vita contemplative, 24, 25, 29, 28.


The Zohar, II, 110 b.


Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Book I, Chapter 1.


Augustine's Confessions, Book XIII, 38. The Loeb Library translation runs: “We therefore behold these things which thou hast created, because they are; but they are, because thou seest them. And we see without, that they are, and within, that they are good.” Another translation also reads: “... And we see without that they are, and within that they are good.”


Philo, De cherubim et flammeo gladio, The Cherubim and the Flaming Sword, I, 97. A commentary on Genesis 3:24 and 4:1.


Plato, Timaeus, 37 D.


Plotinus, 4th Ennead, On the Nature of the Soul, 8th Tractate, The Soul's Descent into the Body, 1.


Plotinus, 5th Ennead, The Divine Mind, 1st Tractate, On the Three Hypostases that Rank as the Principle of All Things, 1.


See Note 43, above.


Augustine, Confessions, Book V, Ch. 10.


Augustine, Confessions, Book X, Ch. 6.


Augustine, De Trinitate, Book X, Ch. 14.


Augustine, De civitate Dei, The City of God, Book XI, Ch. 26.


Augustine, Confessions, Book VI, Ch. 4.


Augustine, Confessions, Book VI, Ch. 5.


Augustine, Contra Faustum, 33:6.


Augustine, De quantitate Animae, 70–76.


“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” — I Corinthians 3:1–2

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