GA = Gesamtausgabe, the collected works of Rudolf Steiner in the original German, published by Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach, Switzerland.

Publisher’s Foreword

  1. See Appendix; also for the following quotations in this paragraph.
  2. Friedrich Rittelmeyer (1872-1938). When Rittelmeyer met Rudolf Steiner in 1911 his followers numbered thousands when Steiner’s numbered barely hundreds, yet he recognized Steiner’s unique spiritual stature. In 1917 Rittelmeyer was called to Berlin to one of the most influential pulpits in Germany and would have been offered the highest position in the Lutheran Church had he not chosen to support The Christian Community in its process of coming into being, and subsequently become its first Erzoberlenker.
  3. For an overview of The Christian Community, see James H. Hindes Renewing Christianity, Edinburgh, Floris Books 1995.


  1. This Introduction first appeared in a slightly longer version in the Newsletter of the Anthroposophical Society in America, Spring 1998.
  2. 1904: unpublished; 1907 and 1909: Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse (GA 104a). Tr. J. H. Hindes, New York: Anthroposophic Press 1993; 1908: The Apocalypse of St. John. Lectures on the Book of Revelation (GA 104). Tr. rev. J. Collis. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1977.
  3. R. Steiner The Gospel of St John and its Relation to the Other Gospels (GA 112). Tr. rev. M. St Goar. New York: Anthroposophic Press 1982.
  4. For more on the 666-year rhythm and Sorat see R. Steiner The Apocalypse of St John, op. cit., and R. Steiner Three Streams in Human Evolution (GA 184). Tr. C. Davy. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1965.

Greeting by Johannes Werner Klein

  1. Johannes Werner Klein (1898-1984), an Oberlenker of The Christian Community at the time.
  2. In a letter dated 31 August 1924, Emil Bock (an Oberlenker of The Christian Community at the time) had told Rudolf Steiner that the circle of priests felt membership of the First Class of the School of Spiritual Science to be profoundly important for their lives. Seventeen applications for membership of the First Class were enclosed with the letter. Twenty-four priests had already become members; fifteen others had applied but not yet received an answer.
  3. Since the founding of The Christian Community in September 1922, the following persons had also been ordained: Harald Brock, Robert Goebel, Johannes Hemleben, Hermann Heisler, Josef Kral, Karl Ludwig, Karl Luttenberger, Rudolf Meyer, Ernst Moll, Hermann von Skerst, Gustav Spiegel, Johannes Thielemann, Käthe Wolf-Gumpold. It is not known whether they all participated in this course of lectures.

Lecture One

  1. The fire that destroyed the first Goetheanum on New Year’s Night 1922/23 was first noticed in the ‘White Hall’ where the meetings of the founders of The Christian Community had taken place in September 1922.
  2. At this point the internal record of The Christian Community contains the following sentences, which have evidently been inadequately recorded:

‘Then the substances were mixed in a way that had still been taught to, say, Alexander by Aristotle in olden times, so that the holy Imagination signifying the path to the gods emerged from the sacrificial smoke. Then this Transubstantiation, the priestly action, was a proper one. The act of consecration of man had indeed been achieved. The celebrant and the one who received it knew: This is the organ for perceiving knowledge, for when that which flows upwards to the gods lights up in the sacrificial smoke and in the prayer that is ceremonially shaped in magical sequences of words, then, as a gift of grace from above, there comes down the revelation, the apocalyptic revelation.’

The content only hinted at here is described in R. Steiner Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centres (GA 232). Tr. rev. P. Wehrle. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1997, lecture of 22 December 1922.

Lecture Two

  1. In the internal record of The Christian Community this passage is as follows:

‘Becoming anointed takes place when one feels how the content of the Book of Revelation came into being in John; as soon as one feels: These human beings of today want to become priests through creating within themselves the experience of the ‘I’ itself in the Revelation. If the ‘I’ becomes apocalyptic, then it becomes priestly.’

Lecture Three

  1. Steiner was using Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible. The English quoted here is from the Authorized Version.

Lecture Four

  1. The Archbishop of Salzburg, Johannes Baptist Katschthaler (1832-1914), in a pastoral letter of 2 February 1905 on ‘The respect due to a Catholic priest’ published in Carl Mirbt Quellen zur Geschichte des Papsttums and des Römischen Katholizismus, No.4, Tübingen 1924, pp.497-499.
  2. Rudolf Steiner went to Tintagel (on the westward facing cliffs of North Cornwall) on 17 August 1924. He spoke about this excursion in Torquay on 21 August and in London on 27 August 1924, see R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 8 (in GA 240). Tr. D. S. Osmond. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1975; and in Dornach on 10 September 1924, see R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 4 (in GA 238). Tr. G. Adams, rev. D. S. Osmond, C. Davy. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1997.

Lecture Five

  1. R. Steiner Knowledge of the Higher Worlds (GA 10). Tr. D. Osmond & C. Davy. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1985; also published as: How to Know Higher Worlds. A Modern Path of Initiation (GA 10). Tr. C. Bamford. Spring Valley, New York: Anthroposophic Press 1994.
  2. R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 4, op. cit., lecture of 7 September 1924.
  3. R. Steiner The Evolution of the Earth and Man and the Influence of the Stars (GA 354). Tr. G. Hahn. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1987, lecture of 9 August 1924.
  4. Ibid., lecture of 9 September 1924.
  5. Rudolf Steiner spoke about the karma of Ignatius of Loyola and Emanuel Swedenborg a number of times, but especially in R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 6 (in GA 240). Tr. D. S. Osmond. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1989, lecture of 24 August 1924.

Lecture Six

  1. R. Steiner Speech and Drama (GA 282). Tr. M. Adams. New York: Anthroposphic Press 1986.
  2. Rudolf Steiner spoke a number of times, in esoteric lessons, about the periods in which the archangels ruled, using the chronology of Johannes Trithemius of Sponheim: R. Steiner Aus den Inhalten der esoterischen Schule (GA 266), Dornach 1995. See also the lectures of 5 December 1907 in Beitrage zur Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe, No.67/68; of 19 July 1924 in R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 6, op. cit.; of 8 August 1924 in R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 3 (GA 237). Tr. G. Adams, rev. D. S. Osmond. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1977; and of 18 August 1924 in R. Steiner True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation (GA 243). Tr. A. Parker. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1986.
  3. After Plutarch Quaestiones conviviales, VIII, 2.
  4. From Homer’s Odyssey, XI, 488-491.
  5. The Eighth Council of Constantinople in 869 determined that the human being should be regarded as consisting of body and soul and that the soul ‘has a number of spiritual characteristics’.
  6. Joachim of Floris (d.1202) wrote Evangelium aeternum (an interpretation of Biblical prophecies). Alanus de Insulis (Alain de Lille) (c.1120-1202), scholastic philosopher, last of the great teachers of Chartres, wrote the Anticlaudianus.
  7. Rudolf Steiner spoke in detail about the meaning of numbers in R. Steiner Occult Signs and Symbols (in GA 101). Tr. S. Kurland. Anthroposophic Press, New York 1972, lecture of 15 September 1907.

Lecture Seven

  1. Fourth century controversy about the nature of Father God and Son God. Arius (d. 336), a town priest of Alexandria, taught that Christ was not identical with the Father God and had been created in time. Athanasius (295-373), Bishop of Alexandria, disputed this and taught that Father God and Son God were ‘of the same substance’. The Council of Nicaea (325) decided in favour of Athanasius.
  2. See Lecture Six, Note 5.
  3. Constantine the Great (Emperor from 306 to 337).
  4. Adolf Harnack (1851-1930), Protestant theologian, wrote Das Wesen des Christentums (published in 1900), English translation What is Christianity? (published in 1901). See also Lecture Nine, Note 1
  5. Julian (331-363), commonly called Julian the Apostate, Roman emperor.

Lecture Eight

  1. The Hebrew characters with their numerical equivalents are shown here in the traditional sequence. (See R. Steiner The Apocalypse of St. John. Lectures on the Book of Revelation (GA 104). Tr. rev. J. Collis. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1977. See the special note on p.263 of R. Steiner Die Apokalypse des Johannes (GA 104), Dornach 1985. It is not known why Rudolf Steiner used the spelling ‘Soradt’ (Notebook entry, Archive No. 498). Another representation of the number 666 is to be found in Agrippa von Nettesheim’s De occulta philosophia, Part II, Chapter 22:


    character 03

    ‘... The fourth magic square, that of the sun, consists of the square of six and contains thirty-six numbers, six in each row, and diagonally from corner to corner, each row having the sum of one hundred and eleven. The sum of all the numbers is six hundred and sixty-six.’

    Regarding Sorat and the number 666, see also the lecture of 27 April 1907 in R. Steiner Ursprungsimpulse der Geisteswissenschaft (GA 96), Dornach 1989, and of 11 October 1918 in R. Steiner Three Streams in Human Evolution (in GA 184). London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1965.

  2. Regarding the Templars, see lecture of 25 September 1916 in R. Steiner Inner Impulses of Human Evolution. The Mexican Mysteries and the Knights Templar (in GA 171). Tr. G. Church, F. Kozlik, S. C. Easton. New York: Anthroposophic Press 1984.
  3. Jacques de Molay (d.1413), last grand master of the Knights Templar.
  4. On 10 September 1924 in R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 4, op. cit.

Lecture Nine

  1. This statement by Adolf Harnack appears in the 8th lecture of his book What is Christianity?
  2. In the internal record of The Christian Community this passage also contains the following notes by another participant: ‘In so far as you are worthy of it, you will take on the New Jerusalem not merely as a picture such as that put forward by modern exegetists but also as something that hangs down from above as really as did the Old Jerusalem stand on its feet from below upwards.’

Lecture Ten

  1. Iesus Christus: I CH.
  2. For the ‘wrong’ translation Rudolf Steiner was quoting Luther. I have used the Authorized Version. (Tr.)
  3. Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) in Hyperion, Book Two.

Lecture Eleven

  1. See R. Steiner The Course of my Life (GA 28). Tr. 0. D. Wannamaker. New York: Anthroposophic Press 1970, Chapter XVIII. There are similar descriptions in the lectures of 8 August 1924 in R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 3, op. cit; and 20 July 1924 in R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 6, op. cit.

Lecture Twelve

  1. Rudolf Steiner spoke in greater detail concerning this in the lecture of 7 November 1915 in R. Steiner The Occult Movement in the 19th Century (GA 254). Tr. D. Osmond. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1973.
  2. See lectures especially in R. Steiner Karmic Relationships, Vol 4, op. cit.
  3. More about this image may be found in R. Steiner’s article on the theosophical congress in Munich in Luzifer-Gnosis, No. 34 (Summer 1907) and the lecture of 21 May 1907. These items are contained in Bilder Okkulter Siegel und Saulen. Der Münchener Kongress Pfingsten 1907 und seine Auswirkungen (GA 284), Dornach 1993. See also Occult Signs and Symbols, op. cit., lecture of 16 September 1907.
  4. R. Steiner Occult Science: an Outline (GA 13). Tr. G. & M. Adams. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1984, chapter ‘Man and the Evolution of the World’; also published as An Outline of Esoteric Science, Hudson N.Y: Anthroposophic Press 1997.

Lecture Thirteen

  1. See R. Steiner Pastoral Medicine (GA 318). Tr. G. Hahn. New York: Anthroposophic Press 1987, lecture of 17 September 1924.
  2. The notes recording the rest of this paragraph give no clear indication of what Rudolf Steiner actually said at this point. It is not possible to edit the text to fit in with what he said in Lecture Six, as he may in fact have brought in quite other angles. It remains for the reader to reach an understanding, perhaps with the help of the following: R. Steiner Occult Signs and Symbols, op. cit., lecture of 15 September 1907; R. Steiner The Being of Man and his Future Evolution (in GA 107). Tr. P. Wehrle. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1981, lecture of 21 December 1908; R. Steiner The East in the Light of the West (GA 113). Blauvelt: Garber Communications Inc. 1986, lecture of 31 August 1909; R. Steiner Occult Reading and Occult Hearing (in GA 156). Tr. D. Osmond. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1975, lecture of 6 October 1914. Also 12 lectures on planetary evolution in Beitrage zur Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe, Nos. 67/68,69/70,71/72, and 78.
  3. See also R. Steiner Conferences with the Teachers of the Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Vol. 4 (GA 300c). Tr. P. Wehrle. Forest Row: Steiner Schools Fellowship 1986-89, meeting of 3 July 1923; R. Steiner The New Spirituality and the Christ Experience of the 20th Century (GA 200). Tr. P. King, London & New York: Rudolf Steiner Press & Anthroposophic Press 1988, lecture of 22 October 1920. H. P. Blavatsky spoke of ‘soulless men’ and ‘death of soul’ in Isis Unveiled, Vol. II and in The Secret Doctrine, Vol.III.
  4. R. Steiner Pastoral Medicine, op. cit., lecture of 17 September 1924.
  5. Goethe’s letter to the physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck.
  6. Kuno Fischer (1824-1907), professor of philosophy at Jena and Heidelberg, published a paper Erinnerungen an Moritz Seebeck, nebst Anhange: Goethe und Thomas Seebeck in Heidelberg in 1886. See also the essay Rudolf Steiner wrote in the same year ‘Das Verhalten Thomas Seebecks zu Goethes Farbenlehre’ in Methodische Grundlagen der Anthroposophie (GA 30), Dornach 1989.

Lecture Fourteen

  1. R. Steiner Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, op. cit.
  2. R. Steiner The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity: A Philosophy of Freedom (GA 4). Tr. rev. R. Stebbing. Forest Row, Sussex: Rudolf Steiner Press 1992.
  3. In the sixth recapitulation lesson on 17 September 1924 in Esoteric Lessons for the First Class of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum (GA 270 I—IV). Tr. G. Adams, rev. M. Wilson, ed. J. Collis. London: Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain 1994, private printing.
  4. R. Steiner Theosophy (GA 9). Tr. M. Cotterell, A.P. Shepherd. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1970; also published as: Theosophy (GA 9). Tr. H. Monges, G. Church. New York: Anthroposophic Press 1971.
  5. Thomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), professor of philosophy and sociology in Prague. From 1918-1935 President of Czechoslovakia.

Lecture Fifteen

  1. R. Steiner Pastoral Medicine, op. cit.

Preliminary Talk

  1. Emil Bock (1895-1959), an Oberlenker of The Christian Community at the time. Friedrich Doldinger (1897-1973), a Lenker of The Christian Community.
  2. In the journal Die Christengemeinschaft, 1/6 (6 September 1924), Emil Bock had published an article ‘Die Gegenwart als Weltenstunde. Die sieben Sendschreiben der Offenbarung Johannis’ (The present time as a cosmic hour. The seven letters in the Book of Revelation).
  3. In 1907 Pius X had declared modernism to be a ‘pool of all heresies’. All its errors were rejected in his Decree ‘Lamentabili sane exitu’ and in the Encyclical ‘Pascendi dominici gregis’. From 1910 onwards all the clergy had to take the so-called ‘antimodernism’ oath, an obligation that was not annulled until 1967. See R. Steiner Heilfaktoren fur den sozialen Organismus (GA 198), lectures of 30 May, 3 and 6 June 1920, and R. Steiner Vortrage und Kurse über christlich-religioses Wirken (GA 343), Dornach 1993, lecture of 26 September 1921.
  4. Pope Pius IX’s Encyclical ‘Quanta cura’ of 8 December 1864 included a ‘Syllabus’ containing a list of 80 clauses stating the modern ‘errors’ of thought not compatible with Roman Catholicism.

Lecture Sixteen

  1. See Lecture Five, p.77.
  2. Joseph Jerome de Lalande (1732-1807), lawyer and astronomer, became professor of astronomy at the College de France in 1761 and director of the Paris Observatory in 1768. Main works: Traité d’astronomie, Paris 1764, and Bibliographic astronomique, Paris 1803.
  3. R. Wolf Handbuch der Astronomic, ihrer Geschichte und Litteratur, Zurich 1892 (Book III, Section 578) contains the following description.

    ‘Great excitement was caused in the spring of 1773 by an announcement that Lalande of the Academy would be lecturing about "Comets which might come close to the earth". Owing to an excessive number of other lecturers in that sitting, Lalande’s talk had to be cancelled. In consequence—it is not known whether through stupidity or evil intent—the rumour spread that he had intended to announce the end of the world for 12 May due to the earth’s collision with a comet, but had been prevented from doing so by the police. The rumour alone sufficed to spread such panic and dread that as the whole of Paris bewailed the approaching day babies were born prematurely and people died from shock, while unscrupulous clergy plied a roaring trade selling absolutions for exorbitant sums. The hurried publication of Lalande’s lecture and various attempts, both humorous and serious, to rectify the misapprehension did little to calm the situation. Not until the terrible day passed without incident of any kind did people return to their normal frame of mind.’

  4. Johann Joseph von Littrow (1781-1840), professor of astronomy at Cracow and from 1819 at Vienna where he was also director of the Observatory. In his treatise Über den gefürchteten Kometen des gegenwärtigen Jahres 1832 and über Kometen überhaupt, Vienna 1832, he stated the following about Biela’s comet:

    `This year (1832) the comet will touch a point only 2⅓ of the earth’s diameter distant from the earth’s orbit, though not from the earth itself, on 29 October. For that to happen, the earth itself would have to be at this point on its orbit on 29 October. However, on that date the earth will be far away from the point on its orbit that would bring it so close to the comet as to be a cause for concern ... It would be different if the comet, which will be closest to the sun on 27 November, were not to come closest to the sun until 28 December. If this were to be the case, the comet would indeed come as close to the earth as stated above ... This is not due to occur for the whole duration of this century. Not until 1933 will the comet’s closest approach to the sun fall on the last ... of December if, that is, it continues on its present orbit of 6¾ years’ duration. However, the distortions of its orbit that will be caused by the planets, in particular Jupiter, over this long period will bring about so many changes in its orbit that it is by then hardly or in fact no longer likely to pose any danger at all to the earth.’

  5. Karl Ferdinand Friedrich von Nagler (1770-1846), General Postmaster of Berlin.
  6. See R. Hagen Die erste deutsche Eisenbahn, 1885, and M. Kemmerich Kulturkuriosa, Munich 1909.
  7. In Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) Encyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse, ed. C. Michelet, Berlin 1847, Part 2.
  8. Rudolf Steiner lectured in Paris from 25 May to 14 June 1906. Edouard Schuré’s summaries of these lectures are included in the volume Kosmogonie, Dornach 1987. However, Schuré did not record what Rudolf Steiner said on this point. The fact that spectral analysis shows cyanide to be present in the substance of comets became public knowledge around the year 1910 in connection with an appearance of Halley’s Comet. Astronomers had been aware of this by the end of the nineteenth century.

Lecture Seventeen

  1. See also R. Steiner Turning Points in Spiritual History, (in GA 60). Tr. W. F. Knox. London: Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co. 1934, lecture of 19 January 1911.
  2. See R. Steiner, I. Wegman. Extending Practical Medicine. Fundamental Principles based on the Science of the Spirit (GA 27). Tr. A. R. Meuss. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1996, Chapter I.
  3. Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814). German philosopher.
  4. This picture of glands (Drüsen) that secrete something leads two paragraphs further on to Rev. 16,2, in which English translations of the Bible speak of a ‘grievous sore’ and some German translations of a ‘Geschwür’ (a boil or abscess). Steiner, however, used Luther’s word ‘Drüse’ (gland). For the purposes of this translation I have used the familiar ‘sore’, since a sore, like a ‘temporary gland’ also secretes matter. (Tr.)

Lecture Eighteen

  1. William James (1842-1910), American philosopher.
  2. Richard Heinrich Ludwig Avenarius (1843-1896), German philosopher. Ernst Mach (1838-1916), Austrian physicist and philosopher.
  3. Karl Friedrich Eusebius Trahndorff (1782-1863), lived in Ber­lin. He wrote Der Teufel—kein dogmatisches Hirngespinst­—Offenes Sendschreiben an den Herrn Dr Sydow, Prediger an der Neuen Kirche zu Berlin (The Devil—not a dogmatic chimera), Berlin 1853. Rudolf Steiner mentioned this also in Necessity and Freedom (GA 166). Tr. P. Wehrle. New York: Anthroposophic Press 1988, lecture of 25 January 1916.
  4. K. F. E. Trahndorff Asthetik oder Lehre von Weltanschauung and Kunst, Berlin 1827.


  1. R. Steiner The Apocalypse of St. John. Lectures on the Book of Revelation, op. cit.
  2. Friedrich Rittelmeyer, see Publisher’s Foreword, Note 2.

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