Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Glimpse At What Is Contained In THE FIFTH GOSPEL

- by Judith King

For about seven or eight years, Classholders of the School of Spiritual Science from across Canada, Canada’s General Secretary and members of the ASC Council have met together for a day each year, usually in Toronto, with the intention of being mutually supportive in their anthroposophical work. Usually there are one or two Classholder friends from the US present.

A theme is identified for this meeting, prepared beforehand. In September 2013 the theme for January 2014 was chosen, introduced by the following words:

“Dear friends, when we meet this January, we shall be nine years away from the 100th year celebration of the Christmas Conference. How can we prepare our souls for this centenary anniversary? How can we, as the Anthroposophical Society in Canada, take part in this celebration? In 1913, having laid the physical Foundation Stone for the first Goetheanum, Rudolf Steiner went on to give his lectures on the 5th Gospel. The act of laying the stone in the earth with its important document and the revelations contained in the subsequent cycle of lectures open the path to what eventually comes into being during the Christmas Conference. Deepening our understanding of these events can guide us as we look ahead to the preparatory work of the coming years”.

Individuals were approached to prepare presentations for the January 2014 meeting. I was asked if I would present on the Fifth Gospel. I did this and now offer it in article-form for the newsletter.

The question of preparing our souls for the centenary celebration of the Christmas Conference in 2023/24 offers a possibility for anthroposophists to work together as colleagues for the Society and for Earth and human evolution. Over the next nine years, we can become more and more conscious of the impulse of the physical Foundation Stone laying in 1913 where Rudolf Steiner first introduced revelations of the Fifth Gospel, leading to the Christmas Conference in 1923/24, when he laid the Foundation Stone Meditation in the hearts of all present. A mutually supportive Will and our consciousness of it can give extra strength to our individual will.

Using as resource the thirteen lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in Oslo, Berlin and Cologne between 1 October 1913 and 10 February 1914 (published as a book by RS Press 1995 ‘The Fifth Gospel – from the Akashic Record’) and a section from ‘The Christmas Foundation: Beginning of a New Cosmic Age’ by Rudolf Grosse*, and other supporting material, I immersed myself in the subject. A significant portion of my research and contemplation took place over the twelve Holy Nights of Christmas 2013/14. The scope of the Fifth Gospel is huge. Awe developed within me for what Steiner has brought for humanity in what he called “a kind of Fifth Gospel”, also ‘The Gospel of Knowledge of the Spirit’ and the ‘anthroposophical Gospel’. I feel great gratitude for practical guidance which emerges from it. I offer here a glimpse of what is contained in this ‘Gospel of the Knowledge of the Spirit’.

Steiner stated his intention for bringing his research into the facts of the Fifth Gospel to the attention of his listeners at the laying of the physical Foundation Stone for the first Goetheanum in 1913 and in the subsequent lectures. His words, condensed from the concluding words of the second lecture given at Cologne (18 December 1913):

“These facts are presented as a kind of Fifth Gospel. It has been my intention to help you find the right feeling and inner attitude to the Mystery of Golgotha by telling you these stories from the Fifth Gospel…It was absolutely essential that knowledge of such facts should be brought into Earth evolution at the present time. These things are communicated from an inner sense of obligation, so long as human souls are prepared to receive them. It is extremely difficult to speak of them. Our studies of these facts have gradually shown what must come alive in our souls so that we may truly have a part in the ongoing evolution of humanity. The meaning and purpose of human evolution on Earth is that human souls should become more and more conscious of their mission.

“The Christ has come. His impulse has been a real influence. It will become more and more necessary for people to understand the Christ, who entered into the bodies of Jesus of Nazareth and through them into the Earth’s aura and therefore the living evolution of humanity.”
Here is a brief overview of time and space in the life of Jesus of Nazareth included in the lectures, which I give as backdrop, before bringing focus to particular aspects:

We are given pictures of Jesus of Nazareth’s life from his twelfth year when the ‘Zarathustra ego’ has transferred to the soul being of the Nathan Jesus. He is engaged in his father’s carpentry trade until his sixteenth or seventeenth year. It is a painful realization for Jesus when he discovers that it is no longer possible for the Jewish teachers who follow the ancient tradition of the Old Testament to hear the voice of revelation from the divine spirit which was accessible to them in the past. From about age sixteen to twenty-three Jesus travels, gaining knowledge and wisdom through his meetings with humanity. In his twenty-fourth year he receives the revelation of the ancient macrocosmic prayer of the Mysteries at a pagan altar. He recognizes that the pagan religion has fallen into decay. When he returns home he forms a relationship with members of the Essene community in Nazareth. He recognizes that Lucifer and Ahriman are forced to flee from the gates of the Essene communities and asks himself: Where do they go? We see him in his thirtieth year disclosing to his mother in a significant conversation what lives in his soul as a result of all he has experienced since his twelfth year. The ‘Zarathustra ego’ departs from him with the powerful words he speaks to his mother. He is drawn to seek John the Baptist at the Jordan River. On the way there he has three significant encounters. At the River Jordan the baptism by John and the descent of the Holy Spirit occur. The Christ Spirit enters the physical, etheric and astral sheaths of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus feels drawn into solitude for a confrontation with Lucifer and Ahriman. He undergoes the three temptations. Through temptation by Ahriman a way is laid for Jesus’ betrayal by Judas to his death. At Jesus’ death the Christ Spirit becomes one with the Earth and its evolution. The Apostles experience an outpouring of all-prevailing cosmic love at Pentecost which comes from the Christ Spirit. It is from that point in time that the Christ impulse starts to spread.                                                                         
Steiner gives a helpful description of his method of research into the scenes and stories he portrays. He brings stages of this method at some length to the attention of his listeners at the second Cologne lecture in the passages which follow:

“I would like you to have some idea of ‘occult research’, as we may call it, which makes it possible to penetrate to facts like those we considered yesterday. The first thing to be said is that such research consists in reading the Akashic Record …It has to be realized that essentially the universe contains nothing but states of consciousness. I have shown in my book ‘The Threshold of the Spiritual World‘(‘The Road to Self-Knowledge and the Threshold of the Spiritual World’. GA 16 & 17, London: RS Press 1975) how vision gradually rises above the level where objects and material processes are seen all around you…Finally you come to a region where you only find entities in various states of consciousness…”

He speaks about the significance of the beings of the Third Hierarchy in our thinking, so we are conscious of it in our search for higher vision:

“Initially thoughts exist in our conscious mind, but not only there. Angels also have that thought…the whole of our thought world is a thought of the Angels …To achieve higher vision the mode of thinking we use in relation to the physical world and to existence on Earth will not help us. For higher vision you need not only to think, but also to be thought, and to know that you are being thought…You must feel the conscious awareness of the Angels welling and actively moving within you. This will give you insight into the progressive impulses of evolution, for instance the truth about the Christ impulse…The Angels are able to think those impulses; we human beings are able to think and characterize them if our attitude to our thoughts is one where we give them over to the Angels, letting them think in us. When this becomes true individual human experience, you inwardly enter into the thoughts of the general Christ truths, let us say, or other thoughts concerning the wise guidance of Earth evolution.”

Steiner continues: “Anything relating to individual periods of Earth evolution is thought by the Archangels. Your thoughts are taken to a particular period by an Archangel”.

And with reference to the Spirits of Personality, the Archai: “Anything connected with entering into the soul of an individual experience can only be investigated when the words: ‘The soul offers itself to be food to the Archai’ or ‘You are consumed to serve the Archai as spiritual food’ acquire real meaning to you. …“Human beings are to the Archai what grains of wheat are to you as human beings. We have to know this from living experience and not as mere theory, relating to the Archai the way a grain of wheat would if it were ground to a pulp by our teeth and then passed through our gullet and stomach in the knowledge: I am human food.   So we must know: I am Archai food, I am digested by the Archai; this is their life, which I live in them. The analogy is perfectly true, for your soul has to be ground to a pulp and you must feel this. Higher investigation is not possible without inner pain and suffering.”

In conclusion he says: “Then we share in the conscious awareness of the Archai, just as we share in the conscious awareness of the Archangels, knowing that the Archangels are taking our souls into a particular age, and we share in the conscious awareness of the Angels when we know that our thoughts are thought by the Angels.”

Steiner gives us vivid imaginations like the grain of wheat being ground to a pulp by our teeth to help us penetrate deep truths revealed in the Fifth Gospel. Here is another: Someone with true, reverent occult feeling approaches the Mystery of Golgotha like someone walking stealthily around a building that is all closed up, having only a faint idea of what goes on inside. There is a window at one point, and through the window it is possible to witness a small part of what goes on inside. “The Mystery of Golgotha is such a window on the world of the spirit; this picture can help us to see that this event was an affair of the Gods. The Gods opened a window in the heavens, and for a while dealt with their affairs in the sight of human eyes”.

 The following are scenes narrated from the period of Jesus of Nazareth’s travels between his sixteenth and twenty-fourth year. They give us an imagination of the circumstances surrounding his becoming aware of the ancient prayer, the ‘Macrocosmic Lord’s Prayer’, and show what lived in his soul leading up to the Mystery of Golgotha.

At the beginning of this period, at age sixteen or seventeen, Jesus had already come to realizations that were painful for him. He learned clairvoyantly that the Bath Kol, an ancient voice of inspiration in Judaic tradition, was no longer able to connect with the greater source of Jewish inspiration, Yahweh. This meant that the Jewish sages of Old Testament tradition could no longer receive through the Bath Kol the revelations of the Divine that had been possible in the past. Human consciousness had evolved and it was no longer possible under the circumstances of the time. This knowledge was painful to Jesus, and saddened him.

Carrying this knowledge in his soul, Jesus travelled widely inside and outside of Palestine. There was a widespread cult at that time in the Near East and Southern Europe, which was predominantly a cult of Mithras. Ancient pagan rites were practiced with customs and celebrations of Mithraic and Attic cults mixed in. Jesus came to know people who followed this pagan cult and he attended services. Through his clairvoyance he could see demonic spirits were attracted by the rites. Some of the images used were in fact images of evil demonic powers, worshipped in ignorance. He could see evil powers enter into the faithful. It was a bitter experience to the young man that the glory of the old pagan rites had fallen into decay in this way.

In Steiner’s graphic words: “In his twenty-fourth year Jesus of Nazareth came to a pagan place of worship where offerings were made to a particular god. But the people all around were sad and afflicted with all kinds of terrible diseases that affected their souls and also their bodies. The priests had long since deserted the place. Jesus hears the people lamenting that their priests had abandoned them, that the blessings of offering no longer came down upon them, and they had become leprous and sick. It pained him deeply to see their suffering and oppression and an infinite love for these people arose in his heart. The people who were there must have noticed something of this love; it must have made a deep impression on them as they lamented their abandonment by the priests and, they felt, by their gods. And immediately something arising in their hearts made them say in recognition of the infinite love they saw in his face: ‘You are the new priest who has been sent to us’. They pushed him towards the altar. They demanded that he should perform the offering service so that the blessings of their god might be theirs again.”

At the pagan altar Jesus of Nazareth fell down as if dead. His soul was raised to realms of spirit, “as if to realms of Sun-existence”. From there it heard the transformed voice of inspiration of the Bath Kol sounding the words of the all-powerful prayer from ancient sacred teaching, which had been forgotten. Rudolf Steiner called this the ‘primeval macrocosmic Prayer’ in his address at the laying of the Foundation Stone for the first Goetheanum. From the lecture in Cologne 17 December 1913 Steiner says “…Jesus of Nazareth felt the prayer contained, in highly concentrated form, the secret of human evolution and embodiment in earthly incarnations” and “reveals the laws according to which the human being incarnated from the macrocosm into a microcosm”. Steiner adds for himself that since the words of this prayer became known to him, he found them extraordinarily significant for meditation. In his words: “The power of these words over the soul is quite extraordinary and you perceive this power all the more the longer you contemplate them. If you then try to look at them in detail and understand them, you find that they do indeed hold the secret of man and the destiny of humanity in a nutshell, and how their reversal gave rise to the microcosmic Our Father which the Christ gave to his disciples”.

In his twenty-fourth year Jesus returned home to Nazareth. He formed a relationship to the local community of the Essene Order and was able to participate in a lively exchange of ideas with members. Through their ‘pure’ way of living they kept the influence of Lucifer and Ahriman away from their communities in order to receive the blessings of divine guidance. He learned a great deal from them of traditional Hebrew secret knowledge. By his twenty-seventh year Jesus had learned almost everything they had to offer. He also experienced important clairvoyant impressions relating to his connection with that community. At home he pondered on the powers he had been given, and on the significant experiences which had arisen in his soul regarding the Essenes and how they lived. He met and often talked to John the Baptist here, who was a lay brother of the Essenes at this time.

In his thirtieth year Jesus of Nazareth has a significant conversation with his (step)mother, in which he unburdens his soul to her of the experiences he has undergone since his twelfth year. He tells her of the three experiences which gave him knowledge bringing pain and sadness to his soul (first, of those involved in Judaic tradition no longer being able to access divine revelation from the Bath Kol; secondly, his experience of the decay of pagan religion; and thirdly, in connection with his experience of the Essene
community). In words from the Fifth Gospel Jesus describes to his mother an experience he had at the gate of the Essene community: “’Once I left the Essenes after an important, personal conversation, and when I reached the main gate I saw Lucifer and Ahriman running away. Since then, dear mother, I know that the Essenes protect themselves from them with their life-style and secret doctrine, and Lucifer and Ahriman have to flee from their gates. But by sending Lucifer and Ahriman away the Essenes are making them go to other people. They gain blessedness by saving themselves from Lucifer and Ahriman.’ Having lived among the Essenes Jesus knew that there was a way of reaching the heights where we unite with the divine and spiritual, but it could only be done by individuals and at the cost of others. He knew now that the connection with the world of the divine and the spirit could not be established in the traditional Hebrew, the pagan or the Essene way.”

At the end of the long conversation with his mother we see the great effect of Jesus’ words. She is transformed. The Zarathustra ego departs from Jesus with the words addressed to his mother, the infinitely open ego of the Nathan Jesus (without earth-life experience) comes again to his soul which prepares him for the Baptism. He is drawn to seek John the Baptist at the Jordan. On his way there he has three significant encounters. These encounters are connected to the earlier experiences which filled Jesus’ soul with knowledge and pain, and in a way respond to them. (For example, to two Essenes he meets on his way: “Vain is your endeavour, for your hearts are empty; you have only filled them with the spirit who deceptively covers pride and arrogance with a cloak of humility”). At the baptism by John the Christ Spirit descends from the Heavens and enters the physical, etheric and astral sheaths of Jesus of Nazareth. He is drawn to seek solitude for a confrontation with Lucifer and Ahriman, knowing them to be the spiritual entities humanity have to contend with on Earth. The three temptations take place: one by Lucifer, one by Lucifer and Ahriman combined, and one by Ahriman alone, this last being the one that the Christ Being is unable to fully repudiate. From the Gospel “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made into bread”. Jesus answers “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God”. Ahriman knows the Christ Spirit needs Earth experience as a human being to be able to fully respond to the offered temptation and take away its power. In the words of the Fifth Gospel as reported by Steiner: “Ahriman’s reply was: ‘You may be right. But the fact that you are right and the extent to which you are right cannot prevent my having a certain hold on you. You only know how the spirit acts that descends from the heights. You have not yet been in the human world. Down there you find people who truly need to turn stones into bread. They cannot possibly live by the spirit alone’. This unresolved aspect leaves a way open for the Lord of Death, Ahriman, to use his influence for the betrayal of Jesus and thus to his death on the Cross.

The Fifth Gospel continues: “Ahriman’s question had to remain unanswered so that it would become the ideal for Christ Jesus to pour himself into Earth evolution and gradually and slowly influence the whole future evolution of the Earth. This could not just be done at the level of the soul. The whole of future Earth evolution had to be filled with the Christ spirit!  Ahriman had the power to impose on the Christ the necessity to truly connect himself with Earth evolution. He therefore entered into Judas later on, and in him had the means of truly bringing about the death of Christ. Through death the Christ essence then entered into the Earth essence. Judas’ deed was the question put by Ahriman that could not be fully answered. (‘They cannot live by the spirit alone.’) The luciferic temptation could be overcome inwardly, in the soul. Every human soul has to do this inwardly. Ahriman’s nature is such that he will be overcome as human evolution progresses if human beings let the Christ essence enter into them more and more, identifying themselves with it”.


This leads us to contemplate our relationship to the living Christ today.


  1. ‘The Fifth Gospel – from the Akashic Record’. Thirteen lectures by Rudolf Steiner given in Oslo, Berlin and Cologne between 1 October 1913 and 10 February 1914. Published by Rudolf Steiner Press 1995.
  2. Section from ‘The Christmas Foundation: Beginning of a New Cosmic Age’ by Rudolf Grosse; section ‘Laying the Foundation Stone of the First Goetheanum’. Published in the original German by the School of Spiritual Science, Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland, for the members of the General Anthroposophical Society.
Invitation to readers: Please share your thoughts and comments.

Judy King April 2014


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