In the Newsletter for Members of the Anthroposophical Society Was in der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft vorgeht of 5 October 1924, Rudolf Steiner wrote:
To the Members
Regarding the lectures on the Book of Revelation
given at the Goetheanum in September
I wish to say the following:
Among the courses of lectures given here at the Goetheanum between 4 and 23 September there was one for priests of The Christian Community. Attendance was strictly limited and apart from the priests the only other participants were the members of the Executive at the Goetheanum.
Sometime prior to this the priests had expressed the wish that the content of the course should be based on the Book of Revelation.
A course of lectures given by me in 1908 to members of the then Theosophical Society in Nuremberg had been printed for members of the Anthroposophical Society under the title ‘Theosophy in relation to the Apocalypse’.1
It was not possible to tie up what was said on that occasion with the substance presented this time. On that occasion our dear friends from among the membership had been full of expectations with regard to hearing about the knowledge one can have, through being able to see into the supersensible world, concerning the evolution of humanity on earth and of the earth as a part of the stellar system. That is the kind of theme that fits in well with the Book of Revelation, of which the content is puzzling for all those who read the Bible, in which it is the final book. It contains information of a prophetic kind relating to the evolution of earth and humanity. In the Nuremberg lectures I was able to show how in the picture language of the apocalyptist one can often rediscover what can be said through anthroposophical research (which goes further into the spiritual realm but is nevertheless conducted with strict scientific conscientiousness) about the development of humanity and the earth within the solar system. As a result of this it was also possible for me to show in the right light how the esoteric truths of Christianity relate to Anthroposophy. I was able to help my audience understand how eternal truths that deeply move the human soul can be heard from two sides, from the side of vision attained in esoteric Christianity and from the side of knowledge attained in spiritual science. I was able to show that the same is heard from these two sides if only one listens properly.
This time, however, my task was different. Although I do not intend to report on what by its very nature can only be intended for the circle of priests, I do feel an obligation to explain what anthroposophists ought to know about a process that is taking place within the Anthroposophical Society.
The spiritual substance streaming through the circle of priests of The Christian Community was bestowed on it through my mediation two years ago in the Goetheanum which since then has been burnt to the ground. This bestowal was such that The Christian Community remains entirely independent of the Anthroposophical Society. It would have been impossible to strive for anything other than such independence, for this movement for Christian renewal has not grown up out of Anthroposophy. It originated with persons who were seeking for a new religious path out of their own experience with Christianity, not out of their experience in Anthroposophy. They felt the urge to discover the connection of the human soul with the eternal world of its being, through finding a living way of taking hold of the supersensible content of Christianity, and they firmly believed that there must be a way of doing this. They felt, however, that the paths at present available to them for attaining the office of priesthood could not enable them to take hold of the content in the way they envisaged. So these pupils of an honest and spiritually appropriate priesthood placed their confidence in me. They had come to know Anthroposophy. They were convinced that Anthroposophy would be able to provide what they were looking for. They were looking not for the anthroposophical path but for a specifically religious one.
I pointed out to them that the cultus and the teachings on which the cultus is based could certainly be bestowed on them through Anthroposophy, even though the anthroposophical movement had to regard its own task as lying in the cultivation of spiritual life from other angles.
It then became possible to approach Dr Rittelmeyer2 about the quest of these pupils of a spiritually oriented Christian priesthood. His was a personality in which Christian priest as well as anthroposophist were present in the truest sense of the word. To a great extent, although without the actual cultus, he had in his person lived Christian renewal in all his work. If something was to be bestowed out of the Anthroposophical Society that would serve Christian renewal, the practical question naturally arose: How will Rittelmeyer receive that which is being bestowed? What will be his stance with regard to realizing the desired outcome? The anthroposophical movement could not help seeing in Rittelmeyer the prototype of a personality who had combined Christianity and Anthroposophy both within the inner harmony of his heart and in the external harmony of all his work.
Rittelmeyer said ‘Yes’ with all the strength of his heart. Thus a firm point of departure for the independent movement for Christian renewal had been won. What then had to take place was able to be inaugurated here in the Goetheanum two years ago.
Since then, the community of priests for Christian renewal has followed its path with the greatest of energy. It is developing a beneficial and healing way of working.
Two years on from that moment—the anniversary of the actual founding fell within the period of this course of lectures—these priests felt the need to achieve a closer relationship with the Book of Revelation.
I believed I would be able to contribute to such a closer relationship. The spiritual paths I follow had enabled me to trace the apocalyptist’s footsteps.
So I felt that with this course of lectures I would be able to achieve a depiction that would convey this ‘priestly book’ in its true sense as a spiritual guide for the ‘priest’. The Act of Consecration of Man is central to the work of the priest. From it there flows what comes to the world of human beings out of the spirit through the route of a cultus. The Book of Revelation can occupy the central place in the soul of the priest. From it can stream into all the priest’s thinking and all the priest’s feeling whatever the human soul conducting the offering is to receive through grace from the spirit world.
These were my thoughts as to the purpose of this course of lectures for priests when I was requested to give it. And this is the sense in which I gave it.
A Note from the Editors
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