Liberty Independent Media Project
Simply Steiner: New Book Offers 21st-Century Insights
Written by T.P. Caldwell
May 22, 2020
It was 112 years ago that Rudolph Steiner gave a series of 12 lectures on his interpretation of the Gospel of St. John, approaching the account from the perspective of Spiritual Science — a view of reality that attempts to combine Western philosophy and religion. Those lectures, presented in Hamburg, Germany, on May 18-31, 1908, argued that it is impossible to understand St. John’s work through a purely literal reading. To understand the mysteries of the gospel, one needs to approach it through “inner forces and capacities … of spiritual perception,” he said.
Now, author Eliza Joslin Kendall has attempted to provide a way for today’s readers to better understand Steiner’s argument. In the newly released The Gospel of St. John: Revisiting the Vision of Rudolph Steiner for the 21st Century: Our Participation in Earth’s Evolution as the Planet of Love she offers a new way of understanding Steiner.
“Steiner’s writings are not intrinsically accessible,” Kendall writes in her introduction. “His books, which are composed of cycles of his lectures, were originally in German before being translated into English, and so can be very ponderous to read. Even I, who am totally committed to the wisdom in these books, found them easier to read and comprehend in small doses.”
Her solution was to simplify and revise portions of his writing to make them more accessible to today’s readers, and to present them in chapters that begin with a synopsis of what Steiner is saying, followed by his own description, and then a personal commentary relating Kendall’s own experiences, and, finally, a series of review questions and answers to repeat that chapter’s lessons.
The approach works as far as bringing clarity to Steiner’s arguments — Kendall draws upon his wider works to explain his views on the earth’s and man’s previous states of existence, for example — but the reader will then want to go the original lectures to appreciate his thinking process as he brought the arguments together for his 20th-century audience. Steiner’s lectures similarly served to get his listeners to want to go back to the Gospel of St. John to reread it in light of what he has said.
What has he said? Steiner proposed that man’s mechanical discoveries have led to a materialistic society that does not appreciate the mysteries of life. That has led to a tendency to view the Gospels as descriptions of historical events, giving the writings of Matthew, Mark, and Luke greater acceptance than John’s account, which is less historical and more spiritual in meaning.
“In the beginning was the Word,” the gospel begins, and Steiner explains that, to the religious people of the time, the Word, or Logos, was widely known and accepted as signifying God — or, in philosophical terms, the “I am” — that has existed since before time. According to Steiner, John is saying that, along with God, everything that was to be also existed — not only Jesus, but the seed of everything else that exists today.
Steiner then applies elements from Western philosophy and the occult to describe people as possessing a physical body, an ether body, an astral body, and an ego, each developed at different periods of our evolution. It was not until man possessed that fourth element, the ego, that he was ready to accept “the light” — Jesus Christ, the human embodiment of God.
Steiner says the Gospel of St. John is intended to help mankind penetrate the mysteries of life and understand that, when Christ became flesh and died on the cross, He was bringing the light to mankind and, by spilling his blood on the earth, was extending it to the entire planet. Our mission is to use that light to convert the earth to a planet of love, where darkness, illness, and death no longer exist.
Kendall/Steiner writes, “An immense deepening of the idea of the Last Supper presented in The Gospel of St. John granted us to learn about the Christ, the Earth-Spirit, and about the bread which is taken from the body of the Earth. Christ points to the Earth and says: ‘This is “My” body!’ Just as the muscular human flesh belongs to the human soul, so does bread belong to the body of the Earth that too is the body of the Christ. And the sap that flows from the plants, which pulsates through the vine stalk, is like the blood pulsating through the human body. Pointing to this, the Christ says: ‘This is my blood!’ This is the truthful explanation of the Last Supper. Anyone who wishes to understand will acknowledge that this does not cause it to lose in holiness, but that through it the whole of the Earth-planet becomes sanctified.”
The Gospel of St. John: Revisiting the Vision of Rudolph Steiner for the 21st Century: Our Participation in Earth’s Evolution as the Planet of Love, ISBN # 978-1-7342627-0-4, www.simplysteiner.com.