To the section entitled “Mark’s Mysterious Youth in the Linen Cloth”
In the text, note was taken that Steiner identified the “young man” in Mk 14,51 as the Christ Spirit departing from Jesus of Nazareth. As there indicated, I shall here give the reasons why I suggest that it is complementary and not contradictory to my position that such passage seems clearly to refer to Lazarus/John.
Central to the marriage of both these versions into one is the remarkable disclosure by Steiner (and as far as I am aware, only by him) that no mineral-physical human body could ever house the Christ Spirit for more than three years because of its immense, searing spiritual power, so to speak. The Christ Spirit entered into Jesus of Nazareth at his Baptism in the Jordan when his own Ego withdrew to surrender his highly developed three bodies to Christ (cf. Heb 10,5b, “a body thou hast prepared for me”; Mt 3,16; Mk 1,10; Lk 3,22; Jn 1,32). Earthly death had to occur within three years.
On this as well as on other matters, I am indebted to Michael A. Streicher, of Wilmington, Delaware, whose father, J. S. Streicher, worked closely with Steiner on agricultural matters. Mike called my attention to a lecture by Steiner in Munich on January 9, 1912, a portion of which he had translated for a study group in which he and one of our sons is active. It is identified in the Steiner archives as GA130, and he calls the lecture, “The Esoteric Christianity of Christian Rosenkreutz.” (This is not the same lecture as another of the same date and place listed in the bibliography in The Burning Bush.). Shortly after I had delivered the lecture upon which this book is based, he gave me a copy of his translation, which is very close to the one in the extract below. The following passage from the lecture is taken from Cosmic Ego and Human Ego (CEHE), NY, SteinerBooks, and London, Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1941, long out of print but available from the Rudolf Steiner Library at Ghent, NY:
I experienced a unique joy in reading this passage, for it resolved for me a puzzle that had existed from early in my studies of Steiner. The first anthroposophical meeting of any sort that I attended was a meditation conference at the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico in about 1990. During a question and answer period, I asked the then general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, the late Werner Glas, how Steiner’s version of what happened to the mineral-physical body of Jesus as set out in his lecture From Jesus to Christ (JTC), rev. ed., London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973 (Lect. 8; Oct. 12, 1911) could be reconciled with the version he gave two years later in the cycle The Fifth Gospel (FG), 2d ed., London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968 (Lect. 2, Oct. 2, 1913). In JTC he had given the “dust” version, and in FG he had given the “earthquake” version, both as set out in the above extract from CEHE. The two seemed incompatible to me early in my studies. Glas could not answer the question other than to say that normally where one sees a seeming contradiction in Steiner’s works, one should read on and will thus find them not to be contradictory. I had already experienced that in the short period of months since I began studying Steiner, but until I read the above excerpt I had never found a resolution. I once posed a suggested answer to a prominent anthroposophical author from Europe (Otto Wolff, M.D.) who doubted my suggestion but gave me no further solution. Now, with this extract, coming only three months after the earlier JTC lecture, Steiner has already given the version later to be found in FG and has done so in a manner so as to bring them together. I had already concluded the same thing in my mind, though it was not the same suggestion I made to Wolff, nor was I overly confident that it would be Steiner’s answer. One who has not gone through this type of struggle with Steiner’s works can hardly understand the scope of my joy at finding his answer so simply set forth.
It is on the basis of just such experiences as this that I have suggested that the two versions of the identity of the “young man” in Mk 14,51 are complementary rather than contradictory.
The “dust” from the above version was more fully explained in JTC. After explaining how such an advanced “body” was prepared for the entry of the Christ into Jesus of Nazareth at thirty years of age (see my The Incredible Births of Jesus), Steiner gives the following fuller account of the “dust” version:
More briefly, the later passage in FG read:
The passage in CEHE makes it clear that it was the salt “dust” that then represented the “body” that fell into the Earth. The grave would have been empty of any recognizable mineral-physical body even without the earthquake.
The phenomenon that no earthly human body could have held within it the immense Christ Spirit for more than three years is beautifully depicted in the first chapter of Steiner’s little book, The Spiritual Guidance of Man (SGM), Hudson (then Spring Valley), NY, Anthroposophic Press, Inc., 1950. It is mentioned again more briefly at the end of lecture six (Jan. 16, 1911) in the cycle entitled Background to the Gospel of St. Mark, NY, Anthroposophic Press, Inc., and London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968.
In the absence of these understandings, theology has been unable to come to a fuller understanding of the beautiful double meaning of Christ’s cry from the Cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Ps 22,1; Mk 15,34; MT 27,46). Scholars are divided over whether Jesus intended to express the words of confidence found later in that Psalm or whether he felt that God had abandoned him (see The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8, p. 723). Steiner’s explanation shows the reality that there was indeed a victory (“It is finished”; Jn 19,30) and that the Christ Spirit had finally slipped fully away from the dying body of Jesus, for no Cross could kill that, and it “descended to the dead” during the interval before Resurrection morning; Steiner quotes Mk 15,34 at the point in his lecture cycle on Mark’s Gospel where he gives his interpretation of Mk 14,51. And he expresses the joyful aspect of it in his discussion of MT 27,46, explaining that in the ancient mysteries, at the point where the initiate has been raised from the temple sleep, who then exults, “My God, my God, how thou has glorified me!” (see The Gospel of St. Matthew, 4th ed., NY, Anthroposophic Press, Inc., and London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965, Lect. 12, Sept. 12, 1910). This again is an example of how one passage can have two meanings. Virtually all scripture must be read with this understanding. It was the essence of the ancient mysteries and of all esoteric writings that their “sayings” have one meaning to the initiated and a different one for the uninitiated. The Bible, from beginning to end, is an esoteric book. As an extremely high initiate, Steiner was able to give both meanings. Unfortunately, he did not always give them at the same place or at the same time. But this understanding vindicates the effort to show that the two interpretations of Mk 14,51 are complementary. In fact, both of them are esoteric, and theology has consequently wrestled with them without resolution.
If we now look back at what was said in the text proper about the deeper meaning of the scriptural term “naked,” we can see that the soul, the Ego, of Lazarus/John was united with the escaping Christ Spirit as they both stood “naked.” It was a joining of the higher “I Am” of Christ with the lower “I Am” of Lazarus/John (see the “I Am” essay in The Burning Bush, as well its essay “Second Coming”). They were joined together in the Earth’s etheric world, the world in which the second coming is now underway. This seems to be the clear meaning of the Secret Gospel passage where it is said of the youth with the linen cloth over his naked body, “And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God.” It is Mark’s Gospel who has revealed, in its esoteric version, that Lazarus was the “rich, young ruler” who was initiated by Christ when the failures of the others had become clear to Jesus. I am unable to comprehend how he could have used the same language (“the young man ... with nothing but a linen cloth about his body”) later with a different meaning—only more complete, for he here ties it more closely to “the mystery of the kingdom of God.”
In support of Steiner’s revelation about the gradual separation of the Christ Spirit from Jesus of Nazareth during the three years, one other thing should be considered. As I write, I am unable to lay my hands upon a lecture where, as I recall, Steiner points out in connection with this phenomenon that most of the “mighty works” (Acts 2,22) of the early Christian kerygma (preaching) took place in the earlier portions of the three-year ministry. Gradually, as death approached, the ministry moved away from these toward a teaching of the disciples about the meaning of his approaching Passion, Death and Resurrection. At the end he stood as a human body largely consumed by the Divine Spirit, so weak that he could not, as others did, carry his own Cross. That Jesus of Nazareth was the one seen by Second Isaiah in the suffering servant passages, especially Is 42,1-4, was pointed out in The Burning Bush (pp. 257, 259 in fn 9 and 511). What also becomes clearer here is how Isaiah also saw and prophesied in Is 53 about the waning strength of Jesus. That he grew up “like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground” suggests that once he was Incarnated he withered under the Christ power as a plant withers in dry ground, for the material bodies cannot withstand the full fire of the Christ Spirit for long. Hence “he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hid their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.... [He was] smitten by God, and afflicted.” All this contrasts starkly with his all-around beauty at age thirty (see Lk 2,52 and 3,23).
Finally, in connection with the passage in the text proper where I discuss the “young man ... in a white robe” in the tomb on Easter morning (Mk 16,5), I see this as also probably being Lazarus/John. That Mk 14,51 and 16,5 both describe the same “young man” is recognized as probable by prominent Christian theologians as there indicated. In Steiner’s cited discussion of the matter in the Mark lecture cycle, he makes it clear that it is the same Christ Spirit both places. That the “naked” soul of Lazarus/John was dwelling with the Christ Spirit and “phantom” there would seem to follow, whether or not John’s Gospel indicates that Lazarus/John went with Peter away from the tomb to his own home.
The conclusion that the“fleeing youth in the linen cloth” is both Lazarus/John and the Christ Spirit, thus making them complementary rather than contradictory in nature, is supported by Welburn’s excellent Epilogue (“Return of the Youth in the Linen Cloth”) in The Beginnings of Christianity. He there concludes, in connection with Jn 21,22, consistently with what has been given herein, that “Surely this is the spiritual truth behind the clumsy rumor that ‘this disciple would never die.’” He represented “the cosmic impulse of the Christ.” See also Morton Smith's "Two Ascended to Heaven—Jesus the Author of 4Q491," in Background, Footnote 2.