The Nathan Jesus Child of Luke's Gospel
Even more mysterious than the birth of the Solomon Jesus child is the birth of the tender infant in Luke’s Gospel, called the “Nathan Jesus” because his earthly ancestry is traced to Joseph through David’s son Nathan.
Steiner held that the Incarnation of Christ represented the fulfillment of all true religions. The three main streams he identifies as having come to a point in the Incarnation are those of Zarathustra, Abraham and Buddha. Previously only Abraham was recognized, but Steiner shows us that these other streams were involved, and subsequent discoveries in this century of ancient documents providentially hidden for millennia have confirmed it. We have seen the Zarathustra stream in the Solomon Jesus child. Let us now look at the Buddha stream in the Nathan Jesus child.
Before incarnating the Christ Spirit had to descend from the highest ramparts of the all-encompassing heaven. We can best think of this pervasive Spirit, before its long descent, as having encompassed the vast reaches of our universe to the very edge of nothingness. We are speaking of no tangible body that would have descended in a linear fashion such as we ourselves might do in a spaceship. Rather we must conceive of the vast Christ Spirit as having been spherical, so that its “descent” was brought about by a painful contraction into and through ever smaller spheres.
As is shown in The Burning Bush, our own solar system came into being in a somewhat similar manner. In Romans Paul describes the spiritual pain involved in such a contraction, saying “that the whole creation has been groaning in travail until now.” For as Steiner has shown us our entire solar system came into its earliest existence as a mere fireball. But nothing had condensed so far as to yet constitute molecular heat as we know it. Rather it was spiritual heat, of the same nature as what Moses called the Spirit of God moving over the face of the waters. It is related to what causes our physical body to maintain its internal temperature independent of its surroundings. Genesis thus opens its account with three non-tangible formless elements, water, air and fire. These, in their etheric nature, or in “their kind” as Genesis says, were the products of the three conditions of consciousness from which we name our Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The Genesis account of creation thus does not go back so far as does the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel. The Christ-enabled vision of John saw further in both directions, backward and forward, than the more limited vision of Moses.
This vast fireball was brought into existence by the activity of the highest hierarchy, composed of the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, as agents of the Christ, the Word of God. Two lower threefold hierarchies were also involved in the further condensations that brought about our present existence. Esoteric Christian terminology used by Paul names these, and was reduced to writing in the sixth century by Pseudo-Dionysius, who wrote in the name and tradition of Paul’s Athenian convert, Dionysius the Areopagite. Thus Paul speaks of Dominions, Powers, Authorities, and Principalities, as well as Archangels and Angels, and of Christ as being above all these “names.” These are among the “heavenly host,” and are all involved in the creative process. A remnant of this knowledge existed within Christendom until the sixteenth century when our dedication to the physical world squeezed it out of our acceptable worldly thinking.
The order in which the seven visible bodies of our solar system separated out, along with the Earth, from this condensing original fireball of our solar system is given in The Burning Bush as Steiner gave them to us. The seven bodies have long been called the “seven stars” while those in the outer firmament have been called “fixed stars.” It is important to understand what all these heavenly bodies represent. Each one is the tangible visible body of spiritual beings. Just as our mineral/physical body is only the tangible manifestation of our soul and spirit, so also is every tangible thing, both on Earth and in the heavens, merely the tangible manifestation or evidence of some spiritual being or group of beings.
Those spiritual beings, for instance, who have our Sun for their home, actually occupy what we call the Sun sphere, that spherical volume defined by the orbit of the Sun as though it revolved around the Earth—at least this is the sphere’s definition since the Earth became the spiritual Sun when Christ descended from the Sun to the Earth.
The spiritual beings who have the Sun sphere for their home are the ones whom the Bible calls the Elohim. This is the Hebrew term for the seven spiritual beings called God in the first Chapter of Genesis. Their plurality has befuddled later Christianity which tends to think of God as one. But it was not so in Genesis one. The Greek word for these beings is Exusiai, and it is translated into English as the “Authorities.” An inspection of the Greek New Testament will disclose this.
The original fireball actually was the manifestation of a large number of active spiritual beings at multiple stages of development. What was needed for the further development of a given level of beings was different from that needed by all the other levels, so that there were successive separations in the evolution of our solar system. The first to separate out was Saturn, then Jupiter, for beings too retarded to condense further with the rest. Next came the Sun for those more advanced, and they took with them all except what were to become Earth and Moon. Mars then separated from the Sun, passing through the Earth into its outer orbit, and depositing in Earth what later developed into iron, a necessary component of human blood. Obviously, for this latter to have happened, the vast rarefied and fluid spherical condition of each of them had to be far different than their present materialized form—as it was. Recent discoveries, however, thought to evidence primeval cellular existence on Mars as well as the planet’s former fluid condition and thicker atmosphere, may well be explained by this event put forward long ago by Steiner.
At this point it was necessary for further human development that the lower spiritual beings in the Earth-Moon mass be separated out. This happened in the separation of the Moon from the Earth, leaving the Earth as it now is. Still later, Archangels who were less advanced than the Elohim, separated out from the Sun-Venus-Mercury mass into Venus and Mercury, leaving only the Elohim as the Sun Beings
However, when the Moon separated from the Earth, the most exalted one of the Elohim sacrificed its higher state and went to the Moon (the Moon sphere, compressed more closely to Earth than any other) in order from that vantage point to work more closely with human development on the Earth. Though it occupied the Moon sphere along with beings lower than earthly humans, it was itself too high to descend into the Earth sphere itself, nor could it have carried out its mission by doing so. This particular Eloha is the one called Yahweh. Yahweh became the “one God” of the Hebrew people, the source of its Shema. In the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy we thus read, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” And the Hebrew people thus took for themselves a calendar based upon the Moon rather than the Sun.
But from the Moon, Yahweh truly reflected the light of Christ who had by now descended (condensed) into the Sun sphere. Christ could now speak to human souls through Yahweh, and so he did.
All evolution within our solar system takes place in a sevenfold manner. The sage tells us, “Wisdom [Sophia] has built her house, she has set up her seven pillars” (Prov 9,1). All is fractal in nature so that the largest sevenfold existence is divided and subdivided again and again in sevenfold units. Earth evolution is the fourth condition of consciousness, following ancient Saturn, Sun and Moon (the earlier-mentioned ancient conditions from which our Saturday, i.e., Saturn’s day, Sunday and Monday were named). Earth evolution itself is divided by the part before Christ and the part after. Two more conditions of consciousness will follow Earth evolution. Then is creation in the kingdom of heaven—all three loaves (the three bodies) are then fully leavened, as the parables in Matthew and Luke suggest. All seven of these conditions of consciousness are reflected in the names of the days of our week, as shown in The Burning Bush.
The first three verses of Genesis reflect the third epoch of Earth evolution, called Lemuria, when the etheric (formless and non-tangible) elements of water, air and fire already existed as a result of the recapitulation, in the Earth’s first three epochs, of the spiritual developments in the first three conditions of consciousness. The fourth such epoch is called Atlantis, the ancient continent that sank into what became the Atlantic Ocean during the late ice ages. The biblical account of Noah tells of those who came over into our fifth epoch, called the post-Atlantean. The first two cultural eras of our post-Atlantean epoch, those of ancient India and ancient Persia, are prehistoric. Writing and recorded history begins in the third cultural era, called the Chaldo-Egyptian.
In his descent from the highest heaven, the Christ Spirit became the leader of those spiritual beings on the Sun who previously had caused the Sun to separate from the Earth in the second epoch of Earth evolution. John, in the prologue of his Gospel, speaks of “the fullness” of Christ. Steiner tells us that by this “fullness” he means the light of all seven Elohim, not just of Yahweh alone.
In the second cultural era Zarathustra, as we have seen, saw Christ in the Sun’s aura, calling him the Great Aura, or Ahura Mazdao, or Ormuzd. And humanity worshiped the Sun in that era and the next. As time went on and he approached ever nearer the Earth, Moses saw him in the burning bush and called him Yahweh-Eloha. Even later the Christ Spirit brought one Siddhartha Gautama to enlightenment under the bodhi tree as the great Buddha.
Here Steiner says, “This question brings us to the threshold of one of the greatest mysteries of Earth evolution,” one difficult for people today to have any inkling of.
The mission of the one who became Buddha was to incorporate into humanity the principle of compassion and love, for nowhere prior to this did it exist in humanity. Love prior to that time was related to the blood. Even later on, Christ had to illustrate that the Levitical commandment to “love one’s neighbor as oneself” included persons of mixed Jewish blood, leaving aside for then those wholly Gentile. Conscience sprang from this very Buddhistic insight. Buddha’s Eightfold Path endowed humanity with something completely new in human relationships—but it was totally Christ inspired. Until then, morality was introduced through revelations given from without, as in the Ten Commandments. Such inwardness as the Buddha revealed had to be withheld from the Hebrew people until the right time. Until then, the external “law” had to prevail. Paul speaks of this comparative phenomenon in the second chapter of Romans.
We have sketched above something of the evolution of our Earth in order now to look at the parallel evolution of the human being. The seeds of the three bodies of the human being, the physical, etheric and astral, trace their origins respectively to the three ancient conditions of consciousness. These three were then recapitulated in the first three Epochs of the Earth condition of consciousness, so that they alone composed the human condition at the time when, in Genesis Two, Yahweh appears on the separated Moon. As yet the human Ego (its “I Am”) had not penetrated into any of these bodies. Nor had the androgynous human being yet separated into male and female. As the Bible tells us, this took place in the developments leading up to and included in the account of the Fall.
It is at this point that an event took place in the spiritual world of such importance that the Nativity account in Luke’s Gospel simply cannot be understood without it.
The account of the Fall of humanity from the Garden is the story of the infection of the human astral body, the sense body of appetite and desire, the one that deals with all animalistic consciousness. As yet the “I Am” had not entered. It only enters after the astral body has been infected by the fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge.” Only then do Adam and Eve speak in the first person as “I.” This came about because of the ungodly desire to descend into mineral existence. Over time the creating gods could see that the infection of the astral body would lead to the consequential infection of the etheric and physical bodies, and to their earthly pain, toil and death. As Paul said, all of his “members” were pervaded by this infection (“For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members”). So prior to, or contemporaneous with, the separation of the human into male and female, these powers held back from it a portion of its etheric nature or body. The etheric body is also known as the “life” body. It is this retention that Moses calls the separation of the “Tree of Life.” It is seen also in the second chapter of Job, before God permits Satan access to Job; this reflects the account of Cain (who could not die) immediately following the separation of the “Tree of Life.” These accounts are so important because they speak of every human being.
What I have just explained is the basis for understanding what Paul calls “the first and second Adam.” The etheric (life) body that went into Adam and Eve is what Paul calls “the first Adam.” The etheric body held back from Adam by the creating powers is what Paul calls “the second Adam.” The sexual nature of the human being’s etheric body is opposite that of its physical. Thus the male has a female etheric body, and conversely the female a male etheric body. Perhaps this helps explain why one yearns for the other. Their “desire” is for each other, as is said of Adam and Eve.
The unspoiled female etheric body withheld from Adam entered into the Nathan Jesus child of Luke’s Gospel, and the unspoiled male etheric body withheld from Eve entered into the Mary of that Gospel. Thus both the fetus and the madonna in that Gospel are called “blessed” by Elizabeth. And this phenomenon also explains why the six-month old fetus in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy at the approach of Mary. For the soul of Adam had reincarnated in Elijah and then, as Luke says, in John the Baptist. And the etheric body of the infant in Mary’s womb was the unspoiled mate of the infected etheric body in Elizabeth’s womb. So powerful was the divinely pure etheric body in the Nathan Jesus child that it could also serve as a provisional Ego for that child until it was twelve years old, for it was to be a vehicle for the Christ and the Christ “I Am” had never yet dwelt within a human body.
Only two of the New Testament writers, or of the Apostles, were fully initiated by the Christ. One of these was the Evangelist John, clearly identified in The Burning Bush. The other was Paul who was initiated into the highest mysteries in his Damascus Road experience. Evangelist John’s writings were the deeper, for Paul’s mission was different, though in Hebrews he was able to set forth deeper spiritual truths more systematically, which accounts for its much different nature. Still in Paul’s other letters there flash forth, from time to time, things that have not yet been understood but that show clearly the depth of his insight when understood in anthroposophical light.
And one of these insights is his expressed knowledge of the first and second Adam. Paul’s tutorship of Luke is well known, and we may take it that the latter was himself initiated by Paul, an “eyewitness” in the spiritual world and servant of the Word, so that he could write such a magnificent Gospel of insight.
So the Nathan Jesus child can be seen to have the unspoiled etheric body withheld before the Fall as both his etheric body and provisional Ego. And Luke shows us that the physical body of this child descended, according to the flesh, through Joseph. We shall deal with this and its relationship to Mary’s virginity after looking at the source of the child’s astral body.
This is where the Buddha enters. The Buddha, though no longer required to incarnate, continued to work with humanity from the spiritual world. He continued to work down as far as the astral and etheric worlds. Steiner tells us that it was the image of the glorified astral body of Buddha, he who had first brought into humanity’s evolution the principle of peace and goodwill, that appeared, along with the angel, as the heavenly host, to the shepherds; likewise in the radiance that surrounded the Nathan Jesus child before the shepherds in the manger. But the Buddha played a far larger role in the Nativity of this child.
Only reverently can we now approach the event of the birth of the Nathan Jesus child to the very young Mary, barely into childbearing age. The soul of the Nathan Mary, which received the portion of Eve’s etheric body held back by the divine powers and not affected by the Fall, had not gone through prior incarnations, and was thus unspoiled, virginal. It had not built up any instinctive consciousness or even awareness of the normal human procreative function. Metaphorically she was an Eve who never ate of the apple, hence could not perceive her nakedness.
So Nathan Mary could not have perceived the occurrence of the procreative act in the same manner as a normal person whose etheric and physical bodies bear the full effect of the Fall, and her soul would have remained virginal thereafter. She knew not any relationship with her husband in the normal sense—whether or not any had occurred. Therefore, her etheric body could not carry the impress of such knowledge and so, the etheric body being what molds the physical, her physical body remained (or resumed its status as) virginal also. She remained pure after conception of the Nathan Jesus child to the time of her death. The six siblings of Jesus (four brothers and two sisters as Mark tells us) were born to the Solomon Mary. Steiner could thus properly refer to the Nathan Mary as the true virgin of the two Marys, though the physical blood of her Son was of the line of David through Joseph.
While these deeper insights have long been lost to Roman Catholic theologians, they nevertheless explain why there is validity to their doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and Perpetual Virginity of Mary. Nathan Mary’s etheric body, not having gone through the Fall, was immaculate at the very time it was itself conceived and it remained immaculate through her conception of the equally immaculate “Second Adam,” the Nathan Jesus child, and thereafter until her early death.
Luke reflects the ages of the souls of the “two Adams” through the ages of their parents, it being necessary that the “old soul” of the “first Adam” should be born of the old parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and that the “young soul” of the “second Adam” should be born of the youngest possible parents at the bare threshold of reproductive maturity. The Greek word parthenon, translated “virgin,” or “Virgo,” also means “young woman.”
Luke reveals the presence of the purified astral body of Buddha as the astral body of the Nathan Jesus child in the account of Simeon. In one of his lectures, Steiner reveals the nature of this account as follows:
In 1986 my wife and I traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong and China. In one of those locations, I acquired a book on Buddhism. It was given to me free of charge by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, of Tokyo, Japan, entitled, The Teaching of Buddha, 14th Ed., Tokyo, 1981. The following paragraph about the newborn infant Siddhartha Gautama is found in its introductory biographical sketch:
I have also found this legend confirmed in authoritative, secular American writings about Buddhism.
What is meant by saying that this child had in it the Adam soul as it was before the Fall? It means that we are dealing with a soul that had had none of the earthly experiences of humanity, no sophistication whatsoever, no developed aptitude for anything that the culture of humanity had developed over the millennia, no inclination to learning of the type taught to children in schools—the ultimate innocent and naive creature, but with bottomless understanding, compassion and love for all of God’s creatures, an openness to all, an inscrutable power for distinguishing between good and evil, and a primeval understanding of the Tree of Life withdrawn from the rest of humanity.
This is in contrast to the Solomon Jesus child that embodied the most advanced Ego that human culture had produced, the ancient Zarathustra. We are now ready to consider the one called Jesus of Nazareth.