Regarding the quality of the original German text (from which this translation is made)


There is no authentic record of these lectures in the sense of a literal rendering of Rudolf Steiner’s wording; no stenographer was present.

The [German] edition is based on a compilation made from participants’ notes which was put together as follows: At the end of the course, the notes taken by a number of the participants were collected and given to a group who were to work through and then duplicate them. In the ‘Priests Newsletter’ No. 38 of 30 October 1924 Wolfgang Schickler reported on this. Although Schickler’s main argument is about the technical difficulties of the duplication, his description also reveals that at least six people worked on deciphering the various notes, as well as compiling, dictating and typing them up. The names mentioned are: Käthe Wolf-Gumpold, Walter Gradenwitz, Johannes Thielemann, Arnold Gael, Hermann Beckh. Because of the virtual illegibility of some of the notes, Schickler playfully referred to them as the ‘Pali texts’.

The rough text created in this way was immediately duplicated without having been critically inspected or worked on by a competent person from among the circle who had heard the lectures. Nothing is known about what became of the original notes.

This compilation of the notes—the only documentation on which this edition of the lectures is based—is therefore not a word-for-word record of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures. Neither is it a report on the content of the lectures vouched for by any one individual. The compilation might best be described as a kind of memorandum for those who had participated. The general gist of the lectures and the main trains of thought appear to be well recorded, but when looked at in detail the text has a great many deficiencies and unclarities, of which the chief ones are:

  • lacking or unclear sentence structure
  • non sequiturs
  • sentences of which the meaning is unclear
  • obvious gaps, in most cases recognizable due to the fact that the train of thought is interrupted
  • use of ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’ with no clarity about what is referred to
  • repetiton of a noun in a wrong context, which entirely distorts the meaning of a whole sentence
  • use of wrong tenses, e.g. present instead of subjunctive, or imperfect instead of future, which likewise distorts the meaning
  • repetition of the same content with only slightly changed wording, whereby it is unclear whether Rudolf Steiner was repeating a thought or sentence, or whether the notes of several participants have simply been placed one after the other
  • unclear wording of quotations
  • etc.

Because of the obvious deficiencies of the notes the editors had no option but to edit the [German] texts; the following guidelines were applied:

  • clear sentences have been constructed
  • punctuation and spelling have been corrected
  • quotations have been properly referenced and quoted correctly
  • incomplete sentences have been completed
  • in doubtful cases, variations have been included in the Notes and/or explained
  • in the case of unclear passages, parallel passages have been sought in Rudolf Steiner’s works and used to construct meaningful sense. The following is an example:

Unclear text

‘On a number of occasions here and in various places I have described how this Michaelity was introduced in the spiritual sense. Part of this I mentioned the other day in a lecture where I pointed out that in the year 869 under Michael’s regency the individualities of Alexander and Aristotle introduced a truly Christian impulsation. This was carried further. At the beginning of the new age, in which the consciousness soul is taking hold—I have described this—we have a wonderful insight. If we look up to spiritual events that belong to earthly humanity and which go on parallel with physical events, we find a supersensible school with Michael as the teacher.’

Edited version, using the lecture mentioned (10 September 1924 [in GA 238], which was taken down word for word in shorthand)

‘As time has gone on I have spoken here and in various other places about how Christianity has been introduced spiritually through Michael. I mentioned one aspect of this two days ago when I spoke in a lecture about Michael’s regency in the time of Aristotle and Alexander, during which a genuinely Christian impulse was already introduced, and when I also pointed to the year 869 in which a kind of supersensible Council took place. This continued further. And at the beginning of the new era, when the consciousness soul is beginning to take effect, we now have—if we look up to spiritual events belonging to earthly humanity and running parallel with earthly events—the wonderful sight of a supersensible school with Michael as its teacher.’

The aim of the editorial work has been to create a comprehensible text in so far as this is possible on the basis of the inadequate documentation available. Obviously any such editing cannot help remaining unsatisfactory. It can never replace a word-for-word record taken down in shorthand.

The Book of Revelation Main Page