The Gospel of St. Luke
18 September 1909, Basel
The facts underlying the Gospels — particularly that of St. Luke — will become increasingly complicated as we proceed. I must therefore ask you to bear in mind, especially to-day, that as the lectures are given as a consecutive series, a single one, or even several, cannot be understood unless studied in connection with the rest. This applies particularly to the present lecture and the one to follow; so you must wait until tomorrow before asking how the various facts to be presented are connected with what has already been said on other occasions.
In the last lecture we heard that the Nirmanakaya of Buddha manifested itself to the world at the moment when, according to the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke, the proclamation was made to the shepherds. Buddhist conceptions that flowed into Christianity were thereby given to the world in a new form and were rejuvenated through the circumstance that the protective astral sheath of the Nathan Jesus-child — the sheath that is detached from the growing human being at puberty — was absorbed by the Nirmanakaya of Buddha and became one with it in the twelfth year of Jesus' life. From that moment onwards we have to do with a definite entity consisting of the Nirmanakaya (or spiritual body) of Buddha and the protective astral sheath that had been detached from the twelve-year-old Jesus-child.
In ordinary life, when the protective astral sheath is cast off in the course of development and the astral body is actually born, the sheath dissolves into the universal astral world. In the case of an average person of our time, the astral sheath would not be suitable for incorporation in a higher Being such as Buddha in his Nirmanakaya. There was something very special about the astral sheath which was cast off at that time and through its union with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha rejuvenated the whole of Buddhism. In other words, a unique Being must have been incarnated in the body of this Jesus-child — a Being from whom proceeded the forces that were absorbed by the astral sheath and contained the rejuvenating power indicated in the lecture yesterday. It must have been no ordinary human being but a very special Being who grew up in the Jesus-child from birth to the twelfth year and was able to infuse the rejuvenating forces into the discarded astral sheath.
To form an idea of how a child could possibly work upon his sheaths in a way differing from the normal, the facts must be approached by means of a comparison.
If we follow the life of the human being evolving under normal conditions from birth to later stages, to the twentieth, thirtieth and fortieth years, we can perceive how the various forces that are present at birth in rudimentary form gradually make their appearance. The child grows both physically and spiritually; the forces of soul develop by degrees. (How this takes place can be read in my book The Education of the Child in the light of Anthroposophy.) 1Many courses of lectures on Education were given by Dr. Steiner in later years and are available in English translation. Among them are the following: Study of Man (1919), The Spiritual Ground of Education (1922), Education and Modern Spiritual Life (1923), The Kingdom of Childhood (1924). Try to picture to yourselves how the forces of the mind and intellect develop in the child; how at the seventh, fourteenth and twenty-first years certain powers not in operation before make their appearance or are forthcoming in greater strength. Try to imagine how this process takes place in the normal course of human life, and now suppose that we wish to make an experiment with life; we wish to make it possible for a young human being to develop in a way that is less normal and less in conformity with the customs of our present age. We wish to give him a special opportunity of grasping with a certain freshness, and not in the ordinary way, the material usually assimilated between the twelfth and eighteenth years, so that he does not absorb it as others do, but retains a kind of inventive power, continuing to work creatively upon it. Suppose we wish to make such a child into a specially creative human being. In that case we shall not allow him to grow up as other children normally do.
I say expressly that this is a hypothetical experiment only and is not meant to be immediately put into practice. I speak of it by way of comparison only and do not recommend it as an ideal of education! Thus supposedly we wish to train a human being to develop an especially creative turn of mind, not only keeping his thinking very alert but continuing, even at a later age, to unfold inventive powers. To begin with, we should have to keep such a child from learning what other children learn directly after the ages of six or seven; the usual school-subjects taught to other children would have to be withheld from him. Until his tenth or eleventh year he would as far as possible be kept at play and be taught very little in the way of ordinary school-subjects, so that at the age of nine he would probably still be unable to add up figures and at the age of eight still hardly able to read. Then we should have to begin at the age of eight or nine with all that a child usually learns when he is six or seven years old. Under these conditions the faculties of the human being develop quite differently and the soul makes something altogether different of what is imparted to it. Such a child would retain the forces of childhood (which are usually suppressed by current methods of education) until his tenth or eleventh year; he would tackle his lessons with a far greater activity of soul and have a much stronger grasp of the subjects. His faculties would thus become highly productive. It would be essential to keep such a child in a childlike state as long as possible, and then a clairvoyant would perceive that the astral sheath stripped off at puberty actually contains youthful, vigorous forces, very different from those usually in evidence. This astral sheath could then be used by a Being such as Buddha in his Nirmanakaya. Not only would a prolongation of the years of youth be achieved by such an experiment but certain childlike, youthful forces would be able to permeate the astral sheath, so that a Being who were to descend from spiritual heights could be nourished and rejuvenated by these forces.
Nobody, however, should attempt to make this experiment; it is not an ideal for education. Certain things must still be left to the Gods. Gods can do this kind of thing, but not man. And if you hear of some personality destined to do creative work in a particular field that he seemed for a long time to be untalented and was for years considered a simpleton, that intelligence developed in him only much later — then you will know that the Gods instituted this experiment; they guarded the childhood of such a human being and made him fit to learn only at a later period what is learnt much earlier in normal life. This is especially the case when wide-awake children easily grasp stories told to them, yet when they go to school learn nothing at all. The Gods are making with them the experiment of which I have spoken.
Something of the kind — only on a far, far grander scale — had to happen in the case of the Jesus-child who was then to deliver to the Nirmanakaya of Buddha such an infinitely fertile astral sheath. (Here we come to a mysterious fact which everyone is free to believe or not to believe, but which may now be communicated to duly prepared Anthroposophists. Examine all the facts at your disposal in the Gospels or in history and you will find everything substantiated by the facts of the physical plane if you approach these facts in the right way and do not judge too precipitately. The occultist who presents facts of the higher worlds entrusts them to humanity; and if they come from the right source he can say: you may test them as severely as you like, but if you do so fairly, you will find them all substantiated by what can be learnt in the physical world from documents and the findings of science.)
It was essential that there should be born of the parents spoken of in the Gospel of St. Luke a child who brought with him youthful forces of a very special kind and that these forces should be preserved in their pristine healthiness and vigour.
Under ordinary circumstances no child could have been found in whom the forces of childhood and youth were present in the state of freshness required at that time. In the whole range of humanity, if normal conditions alone had prevailed, nowhere could such an Individuality, nowhere could parents have been found such as were necessary for an incarnation of that kind. Very special measures were essential. To understand this we must recall certain facts already known to us.
Present-day humanity can be traced back through various epochs to the primeval humanity of ancient Atlantis. Atlantean humanity in turn leads back to that of ancient Lemuria. Spiritual science is able to reveal facts concerning the evolution of humanity very different from those presented by external science which can have recourse only to data of the material world. Spiritual science tells us that humanity passed through a stage of Graeco-Latin civilization which was preceded by the Egypto-Chaldean, the ancient Persian and the ancient Indian civilizations. Then we come to the great catastrophe which entirely changed the face of the Earth. Before that catastrophe a great continent stretched across the area now covered by the Atlantic Ocean: this was ancient Atlantis. The regions occupied to-day by the European, Asiatic and African peoples were mostly still under water. Through the great Atlantean catastrophe the whole countenance of the Earth was changed. Humanity had for the most part settled in Atlantis and underwent evolution there. The constitution of the men of Atlantis was, of course, very different from that of men to-day.
When the time of the catastrophe drew near, the great clairvoyant leaders and priests, foreseeing what was to happen, guided men to the East, and also to the West. Those who were led to the West were the ancestors of the later American Indians. Our own progenitors too were among the old Atlanteans. The inhabitants of Atlantis were in their turn the descendants of an earlier and again very different humanity living on the continent of ancient Lemuria between the present continents of Asia, Africa and Australia. (You will find a detailed account in my book Occult Science 2Occult Science — an Outline. Translated by George and Mary Adams. See p. 192 et seq. (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963). and I will now select the relevant facts only.)
When we look back in the Akashic Chronicle to very ancient times the most wonderful corroboration is forthcoming of what is to be read in the Bible and other religious texts; indeed, it is only then that we learn to understand their contents in the right way. The reference in the Bible to a single pair of human beings, Adam and Eve, from whom all humanity has descended, was a problem with which men in the mid-nineteenth century were deeply preoccupied from the scientific standpoint. The Akashic Chronicle reveals that the Earth is of immense antiquity and that even the Lemurian epoch was preceded by another. We learn from the book Occult Science that the Earth is the re-embodiment of the earlier planetary embodiments of Old Moon, Old Sun and Old Saturn. We learn too that the Earth, in the course of its gradual evolution, was destined to add the Ego, the fourth principle of human nature, to the other three bodies which had been developed during the previous embodiments: the physical body (in rudimentary form) on Old Saturn, the etheric body on Old Sun, the astral body on Old Moon. Everything that preceded the Lemurian epoch was merely preparation for the Earth's mission. During the Lemurian epoch man assumed a form that made it possible for him to develop his fourth principle, the Ego. At that time the first seed began to form for the development of an Ego in the other three principles. Hence we can say that the changes which took place on Earth enabled man to become the bearer of an Ego. Before the Lemurian epoch the Earth was also inhabited, but by human beings who as yet bore no Ego within them. They consisted of the principles that had been brought over from their former development during the planetary evolutions of Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon. These human beings consisted of physical body, etheric body, astral body. We know of the processes in the universe which led to the next stage in man's evolution. At the beginning of its present embodiment the Earth was united with Sun and Moon; then the Sun separated off, leaving behind a planetary body comprising the present Earth and Moon. If the Earth had remained united with the Moon, man's whole make-up would have become hard and ligneous, would have shrivelled. In order to avert this it was necessary for all the Moon-substances and beings to be cast out. Thereby the human form was rescued from the danger of hardening and it became possible for man to assume his present structure. It was only after the separation of the Moon that the possibility arose for him to become the bearer of an Ego. This did not, of course, take place all at once. After the Sun had slowly separated and while the Moon was still contained within the Earth, certain conditions arose which prevented the further evolution of mankind; physical matter became increasingly dense and a process of hardening had, in fact, already begun. Human souls — they were then at a lower stage of development — were passing through incarnations, through successive embodiments; in other words, man's in-most being left his outer form and passed through a spiritual world in order then to reappear in a new incarnation. But before the separation of the Moon a difficult period occurred in the evolution of the Earth. Certain human souls who, having left their bodies, were living in the spiritual world, wanted to descend again to the Earth; but the human substance now to be found there was too hard and ligneous to enable them to incarnate. A time came when souls wishing to descend found it impossible to incarnate again because the earthly bodies were unsuitable for them. Only the very strongest souls were able to master the hardened matter sufficiently to incarnate on the Earth; the others were obliged to withdraw again into the spiritual world. There were periods before the separation of the Moon when these conditions prevailed. The number of strong souls able to conquer matter and populate the Earth became steadily less, with the result that prior to the Lemurian epoch there was a period when wide areas of the Earth were barren and the population less and less numerous, because souls desiring to descend could find no suitable bodies.
What happened to these souls? They were transported to the other planets which had formed meanwhile out of the universal substance. Certain souls were transported to Saturn, others to Jupiter, Mars, Venus or Mercury. There was a period when only the very strongest souls were able to come to the Earth during its great winter. The weaker souls had to be taken into the guardianship of the other planets of our solar system.
During the Lemurian epoch there was actually a time when it may be said — with approximate accuracy at any rate — that there was a single couple in existence, one main pair (Haupt-paar) which had retained sufficient strength to master the stubborn substance and to incarnate on the Earth, to ‘hold out’ as it were through the period when the Moon was separating from the Earth. This separation made it possible again for human substance to be refined and rendered suitable to receive the weaker souls; the descendants of this one main pair were therefore able to live in more pliable substance than had been available before the separation of the Moon. Then, by degrees, all the souls returned to the Earth from Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Saturn; and through propagation the souls gradually returning to the Earth from the planets constituted the descendants of the first main pair.
Thus the Earth was re-peopled. And during the latter part of the Lemurian until far into the Atlantean epoch, an ever-increasing number of souls descended, having waited on the other planets until a time came when they were able to incarnate in earthly bodies. In this way the Earth was re-populated and the Atlantean peoples came into existence, guided by the Atlantean Initiates in the “Oracles”.3Op. Cit., p. 594. “Oraculum — meaning a place where the intentions of spiritual Beings are perceived.”
In ancient Atlantis there were great sanctuaries where Initiates worked. These sanctuaries were organized in such a way that one might be called the ‘Mars Oracle’, another the ‘Jupiter Oracle’, another the ‘Saturn Oracle’ and so on. The variety of these Oracle-sanctuaries was due to the differences among human beings. For those souls who had waited on Mars, instruction and guidance were provided in the Mars Oracles; for those who had waited on Jupiter, in the Jupiter Oracles, and so on. Only a few chosen pupils could be instructed in the great Sun Oracle. These were the most direct descendants of the main pair who had lived through the Earth's critical period — the strong, ancestral couple called in the Bible ‘Adam and Eve’. There we find something that tallies exactly with the facts revealed by the Akashic Chronicle, so that the Bible is substantiated even where its content seems improbable.
At the head of the Sun Oracle to which the other Oracles were subordinate was the greatest of the Atlantean Initiates, the Sun-Initiate, who was also the ‘Manu’, the leader of the Atlantean peoples. When the time of the great catastrophe was approaching, the Manu assumed the task of leading to the East those whom he found suitable for his mission — which was to establish a starting-point for the civilizations of the post-Atlantean epoch. This Initiate gathered around him men who always included the most direct descendants of ‘Adam and Eve’, the first ancestral pair who had survived the Earth's winter. These men were brought up and trained in the immediate environment of the great Initiate. The whole of the teaching imparted to them was organized in such a way that at the appropriate point of time in evolution it was always possible for the right influences to be sent forth from the sanctuary led by the Manu, the Initiate of the Sun Oracle. Let us suppose that at a certain point in evolution a rejuvenation of civilization was necessary; traditions preserved in humanity had become antiquated and required a new impetus; a new culture needed to be inaugurated. Provision for this had to be made — and was actually made, in many different ways — in the sanctuary under the great Initiate of the Sun Oracle.
During the first period of the post-Atlantean epoch, men specially prepared were sent to one place or another in order to carry into the world, as the result of their careful training, what might be required by the people concerned. This Oracle-sanctuary which was situated in a hidden region of Asia, never failed to provide for the right influence to be exercised upon the particular civilizations.
Five to six centuries after the advent of the great Buddha, there dawned a very crucial time. Buddhism had become in need of rejuvenation. The mature and sublime conceptions taught by Buddha needed to pass through a fountain of youth in order that they might be revealed to mankind in a new form, filled with fresh, rejuvenating forces. Very special forces had to be provided for humanity. These forces were not to be found in any single individual who had worked in the world outside. Whoever works for the world wears out his strength, and this wearing out of strength simply means ‘growing old’. Civilization after civilization arose at various points of time: first, the ancient Indian, then the ancient Persian, then the Egypto-Chaldean, and so on; great and notable leaders of humanity were at all times present — leaders who devoted their highest and best forces to humanity and its progress. The Holy Rishis, Zarathustra who was the inaugurator of the Persian civilization, Hermes, Moses, the leaders of Chaldean culture — all devoted their forces to the same end. By virtue of their achievements they were the best leaders for their times. Think of some personality in ancient India: he incarnated again and again, reappeared in this or that incarnation, in the Persian, in the Egypto-Chaldean epoch — and his soul became more and more mature; he rose to stages of greater maturity but thereby lost the fresh force of youth. A man may be capable of momentous achievements when he has become a mature soul as the result of efforts made in the course of many incarnations — but his soul has aged. He may be able to give splendid teaching, he may achieve a great deal for humanity, but he would have had to sacrifice his youthful freshness and vigour while thus evolving to higher stages.
Let us take one of the greatest Individualities who have worked in the course of human evolution: Zarathustra. It was he who brought the sublime message of the Sun Spirit from the profoundest depths of the spiritual world to the humanity of his time; it was he who directed the souls of men to the great Spirit who later appeared as Christ; it was he who proclaimed: ‘In the Sun lives Ahura Mazdao, and He will come to the Earth!’ Zarathustra spoke words of immense significance concerning Ahura Mazdao. Only his profound spiritual knowledge and highly developed clairvoyance could behold that Being of whom the Holy Rishis said that He, ‘Vishva Karman’, dwelt beyond their sphere. This was the same Being whom Zarathustra called ‘Ahura Mazdao’ and whose significance for humanity he proclaimed. A spirit of great maturity lived in the body of Zarathustra, even in the days when he founded the ancient Persian civilization.
We can well imagine that this Individuality rose to higher and higher stages during his subsequent incarnations, becoming more and more mature, more and more capable of the greatest sacrifices on behalf of humanity. Those of you who have heard other lectures of mine will know that Zarathustra gave up his astral body to Hermes, the leader of the Egyptian civilization, and his etheric body to Moses, the leader of the Hebrews. Such deeds can be accomplished only by a soul of very advanced development. Zarathustra was then reborn in Chaldea six hundred years before our era (at the time of Buddha in India) and worked there as the great teacher ‘Nazarathos’ or ‘Zaratas’, who was also the teacher of Pythagoras. All this was within the power of the former leader and inaugurator of the ancient Persian civilization. Since the days of ancient Persia he had become more and more mature, but when Buddhism needed rejuvenation this task was not within his powers, as you will understand from the foregoing. It was not possible for him to provide youthful forces, developed under childlike conditions until puberty, which could then be given over to the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. Precisely because he had reached such a high stage of development it would not have been possible for Zarathustra to develop as a child at the beginning of our era in such a way that the required results would have been forthcoming. Were we to review all the Individualities whose powers were unfolded at that time, we should find no single one capable of furnishing, in his twelfth year, such forces as were needed for the rejuvenation of Buddhism. Zarathustra was a great and unique Individuality, an altogether exceptional case. Yet not even Zarathustra himself could have ensouled the body of Jesus up to the time of puberty in such a way as to enable the discarded astral sheath to unite with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. Whence, then, came the great vivifying, vitalising power of the Nathan Jesus-child?
It came from the Mother-Lodge of humanity directed by the sublime Sun-Initiate, the Manu. A great individualised power (eine grosse individuelle Kraft) had there been nurtured and fostered. This individualised power, this ‘Individuality’, was then sent down into the child born of the parents called ‘Joseph’ and ‘Mary’ in the Gospel of St. Luke. Who was this Being?
To answer this question we must go back to the time before the Luciferic influence had penetrated into the astral body of man. This influence approached humanity at the time when the ancestral human couple were living on the Earth. This ancestral couple had been strong enough to master human substance and to incarnate, but had not been strong enough to resist the Luciferic influence. The effects of the influence extended into the astral bodies of this couple too, with the consequence that it was impossible to allow all the forces that were in ‘Adam and Eve’ to be transmitted to their descendants. The physical body had necessarily to be transmitted through the generations, but the leadership of humanity held back a portion of the etheric body. This was expressed by saying: ‘Men have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’ — that is to say, they have partaken of the Luciferic influence; but it was also said: ‘The possibility of eating also of the Tree of Life must now be taken from them.’ This means that certain of the forces of the etheric body were kept back and did not pass on to the descendants. Thus after the Fall, certain forces were no longer in ‘Adam’, and the still guiltless part of his being was nurtured and fostered in the great Mother-Lodge of humanity. This was, so to speak, the Adam-soul as yet untouched by human guilt, not yet entangled in what had actually caused the ‘Fall’ of man. These pristine forces of the Adam-Individuality were preserved; they were there and were then led as a provisional ‘Ego’ to the child born to Joseph and Mary. Thus in his early years this Jesus-child bore within him the power of the original progenitor of earthly humanity.
This soul had remained young in the truest sense. It had not been led through incarnations but had been kept at a very early stage — like the child in our hypothetical educational experiment. Who, then, was the Being in the child born to Joseph and Mary of the Nathan line? The progenitor of humanity, the ‘old Adam’ as a ‘new Adam!’ This secret was known to St. Paul and lies behind his words. And St. Luke, the writer of the Gospel — who was a pupil of St. Paul — knew it too. For this reason he speaks of it in a special way. He knew that a very definite process was necessary in order that this spiritual substance might be led down to humanity; he knew that a blood-relationship reaching back to ‘Adam’ was necessary. Hence for Joseph he shows a lineage reaching back to Adam who issued directly from the spiritual world and in the words of the Gospel was a ‘son of God’. The sequence of generations is traced back to God himself.
A mystery of great significance is contained in the genealogical chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, namely that homogeneous blood had to flow through the generations and unbroken sequence be maintained until the last descendant, in order that the spirit too might he led down to the descendants when the time was fulfilled. And so this infinitely youthful Being was united with the body born of Joseph and Mary of the Nathan line — a Being untouched by earthly destinies, a young soul whose powers, if we wanted to discover their origin, would have to be traced back to ancient Lemuria. This Being alone was strong enough to penetrate into the astral sheath and, when this sheath was detached, to pass over to it the forces it needed in order to establish a living union with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha.
We may therefore ask: What is actually described to us in the Gospel of St. Luke when it speaks of Jesus of Nazareth?
In the first place it describes a human being whose physical body, in respect of blood-kinship, is to be traced back to Adam — to the times when, in the period of devastation on the Earth, humanity was saved through an ancestral pair. It further describes the incarnation of a soul who had waited the longest before incarnating. In the Nathan Jesus-child there was present the Adam-soul as it was before the Fall — the soul which had waited longest. We may therefore say, fantastic as it will seem to modern humanity, that the Individuality who had been led into the Jesus-child by the great Mother-Lodge had not only descended from the physically oldest generations of mankind but was also, in a sense, the incarnation of the very first member of humanity.
We know now who was presented in the temple and shown to Simeon, and who, according to St. Luke, was the ‘Son of God’. St. Luke was not speaking of the present human being but was testifying that this was the reincarnation of a Being who was the earliest blood-ancestor of all the generations.
And now to summarize what has been said. In the fifth–sixth century before our era there lived in India the great Bodhisattva whose mission it was to bring to humanity truths that were gradually to arise in humanity itself. He gave the impulse for this and thereby became Buddha. Hence he does not again appear in an earthly body; he appears in the Nirmanakaya, the ‘Body of Transformation’, but only as far as the etheric-astral world. The shepherds, being for the moment clairvoyant, see him in the form of the angelic host, for they are meant to behold in vision what is being announced to them. In his Nirmanakaya the Buddha inclines over the child born to Joseph and Mary of the Nathan line — for a very special purpose.
What the Buddha had been able to bring to humanity needed to be present in a mature form; it was difficult to understand for it came from great spiritual heights. If what Buddha had achieved hitherto was to become universally fruitful, it was necessary for an entirely fresh and youthful force to flow into it. He had to draw this force from the Earth by inclining over a human child from whom he could receive all the youthful forces from the astral sheath when it was detached. Such a child had been born from the line of generations — a child whose lineage the one who best understood it could trace back to the ancestor of humanity, back to the young soul of humanity during the Lemurian age, a child to whom he (St. Luke) could point as the reincarnated ‘new Adam’. This child, whose soul was the mother-soul of humanity — a soul kept young through the ages — lived in such a way that all his youthful forces rayed into the astral body, and when the astral sheath was detached it rose upwards and united with the Nirmanakaya of Buddha.
These facts do not, however, include everything that helps us to understand the wonderful Event of Palestine; they present one aspect only. We now know who was born in Bethlehem when Joseph and Mary travelled thither from Nazareth, and we know whose coming had been announced to the shepherds; but that is not all. Much that is strange and significant took place at the beginning of our era in order to bring about the greatest Event in the evolution of humanity. For a better understanding of what gradually led up to that Event, we must still consider the following.
In the ancient Hebrew people there was a line of generations descending from David. We learn from the Bible that David had two sons, Solomon and Nathan. Thus two lines of descent, the ‘Solomon line’ and the ‘Nathan line’ stemmed from David. Leaving aside the intermediate members, we can say: At the beginning of our era, descendants both of the Solomon line and of the Nathan line of the House of David were living in Palestine. In Nazareth there lived a man named ‘Joseph’, a descendant of the Nathan line; he had a wife, ‘Mary’. And in Bethlehem there lived a descendant of the Solomon line, also named ‘Joseph’. It is not in the least surprising that there were two men of David's lineage named Joseph and that each was married to a Mary as the Bible says. Thus at the beginning of our era there were two couples in Palestine, both bearing the names of ‘Joseph’ and ‘Mary’. The Bethlehem couple traced back its origin to the ‘Solomon’ or kingly line of the House of David, and the other (the Nazareth couple) to the ‘Nathan’ or priestly line. To this latter couple (of the Nathan line) was born the child described to you yesterday and to-day. This child provided an astral sheath that could eventually be absorbed into the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. At the time when the child was due to be born, this couple of the Nathan lineage journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem as St. Luke relates — ‘to be taxed’. The genealogical table is given in his Gospel.
The other couple did not originally reside in Nazareth but in Bethlehem; this is related by the writer of the Gospel of St. Matthew. This couple of the Solomon line also had a child named ‘Jesus’. In the body of this child too a great Individuality was living, but the child had a different task to fulfil. The wisdom of the world is indeed profound! It was not the function of this child to impart fresh forces of youth to the astral sheath; his mission was to bring to humanity that which only a mature soul can bring. Under the guidance of all the Powers concerned, this child was able to be the reincarnation of the Individuality who had once taught the mysteries of Ahura Mazdao to men in ancient Persia; who had once given up his astral body to Hermes and his etheric body to Moses, and who had appeared again as Zarathas or Nazarathos, the great teacher of Pythagoras in ancient Chaldea. This Individuality was none other than Zarathustra. The Ego of Zarathustra was reincarnated in the child of whom the Gospel of St. Matthew relates that he was born of a couple named Joseph and Mary who descended from the kingly or Solomon line of the House of David and resided, originally, in Bethlehem.
Thus we find one part of the truth presented in the Gospel of St. Matthew and the other part in that of St. Luke. Both accounts must be taken literally, for truth is complex. We know now who was born from the priestly line of the House of David. But we know too that from the kingly line there was born the Individuality who had once worked in ancient Persia as Zarathustra and had inaugurated the ‘kingly’ or ‘magic’ science of the ancient Persian kingdom. Thus the two Individualities lived side by side: the young Adam-Individuality in the child of the priestly line of the House of David, and the Zarathustra-Individuality in the child of the kingly line. How and why all this took place, and how evolution was further guided — of this we shall say more tomorrow.