The five lectures we have sampled constitute a lecture cycle that Steiner delivered in Oslo, Norway, between October 1 and October 6, 1913.
These five lectures are not the whole story, however. Steiner delivered other lectures on many of the same topics, and some of them are included in THE FIFTH GOSPEL - From the Akashic Record (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001).
Here is a final, rather lengthy, excerpt; the following comes from a lecture Steiner delivered in Cologne, Germany, on December 17, 1913. (It is the twelfth lecture included in THE FIFTH GOSPEL - From the Akashic Record. It can be found at the Rudolf Steiner Archive as the first lecture listed under "The Fifth Gospel Volume 2".)
"In lecture cycles about the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, I have already had the opportunity of speaking about this subject. It is a fact that two Jesus children were born at approximately the same time at the beginning of our era. I pointed out that those two Jesus children were very different as far as character and capabilities are concerned. The Jesus very well described by the Gospel of Matthew descended from the Solomon line of the House of David. In him lived the soul, or the 'I' of the person we know as Zarathustra.
"When we consider such an incarnation, we must be especially clear about one thing: that even when such an advanced individual, as Zarathustra certainly was, is again incarnated — namely in the time he was born as Jesus — in no way must he know in childhood or youth that he is that individual. It is not necessary to be able to say: I am this person or that person. That is not the case. It is, however, true that in such cases the enhanced capacities gained by having passed through such an incarnation become evident early and thus define the child's character. So it was that the Solomon Jesus child — as I would like to call him — in whom the I of Zarathustra lived, was endowed with enhanced capabilities which enabled him to easily absorb the culture and the knowledge to which his earthly contemporaries had attained. In that child's environment — especially in those times — existed the whole cultural civilization of humanity in words, gestures and deeds — in short, in all that could be seen and heard. A normal child absorbed little of what he saw and heard. This child, however, absorbed with great ease all the sparse indications in which existed everything humanity had achieved by then. In short, he proved himself to be greatly gifted at absorbing all the available scholarly knowledge. Today we would call such a child 'highly gifted'. Up until his twelfth year he quickly learned everything to be learned in his environment.
"The other Jesus was completely different. His character is well reflected in the Gospel of Luke. He descended from the Nathan line of the House of David. He had no gift for scholarly learning, nor did he show interest in it up until his twelfth year. On the other hand, he showed to a high degree what we can call capacity of the heart, compassion for all human happiness and suffering. He showed himself to be especially capable in that he concentrated less on himself and was less able to attain exterior knowledge. But from earliest childhood on he felt the suffering and the joy of others as his own suffering and his own joy. He could transpose himself into the souls of others; he possessed this ability in the highest degree. The Akasha Record indicates that the differences between the two Jesus children could not have been greater.
"After both boys had reached their twelfth year, an event occurred which I have often characterized: that when the Nathan-Jesus traveled to Jerusalem with his parents, the I of Zarathustra, which had been in the other, the Solomon-Jesus, left his body and took possession of the Nathan Jesus's physical, etheric and astral bodies. The result was, therefore, that everything that this royal-I was capable of was now active in the soul of the other, the Nathan-Jesus child. And this boy, now possessing all of Zarathustra's power, without knowing it, caused astonishment in the scholars among whom he emerged teaching — as it is also described in the Bible. I have also indicated how the other, the Solomon-Jesus, from whom the I had departed, soon thereafter declined and, after a relatively short time, died.
"It must be understood that when the I of a person leaves him — as was the case with the Solomon-Jesus child — he does not necessarily die immediately. Just as a ball continues to roll on for a time under its own inertia, so does such a person continue to live on through the strength which lives within him. Now someone who cannot observe human souls in a precise way will notice little difference between a person who has lost his I and a person who still has one. Because in normal life the I in a person we are observing does not play such a dominant role. What we experience in another person is to a very small extent a direct manifestation of his I, but rather the manifestation of his I through the astral body. That other Jesus-child retained his astral body, however, and only someone who can carefully distinguish — and it is not easy — whether old habits and thoughts still continue to act in a person or whether new elements are present, can thereby determine if the I is still present or not. But a decline begins, a kind of dying out, a withering away. And such was the case with this Jesus boy.
"Then, through a stroke of karma, the biological mother of the Nathan-Jesus and also the father of the Solomon-Jesus died soon after the passing over of the Zarathustra-I from one boy to the other. And the father of the Nathan-Jesus and the mother of the Solomon-Jesus became a married couple. The Nathan-Jesus had no physical siblings, and the step-siblings whom he now acquired were the siblings of the Solomon-Jesus. From the two families one was formed, which henceforth resided in the town now called Nazareth — so that when we refer to the Nathan-Jesus, in whom the Zarathustra-I lived, we use the expression: Jesus of Nazareth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL, Volume 2 (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 148; translation by Frank Thomas Smith.
Anthroposophists pore over Steiner's account of the life of Christ Jesus. Some call it their favorite Steiner text; some have particularly fond memories of their introduction to it.
"One of the wonderful experiences of my Waldorf teacher training was in a comfy living room, with a group of friends, reading aloud Rudolf Steiner’s Fifth Gospel transcripts, round-robin style, a paragraph at a time. We read a chapter each night over the 12 Days of Christmas. If you've done this, maybe you also felt the pull to draw closer to this material. I certainly did." — Bruce Dickson, giving background information concerning his book RUDOLF STEINER'S FIFTH GOSPEL IN STORY FORM (CreateSpace, 2009).
Here are some excerpts from Dickson's book:
"Jesus had died on the Cross. Yet Peter knew the dying was actually more like a birth, a birthing to the Earth of that Spirit now pouring into him and into the other Disciples ... The All-prevailing Cosmic love, which had only been present outside and around the Earth previously, was now been born [sic] into the Earth." [pp. 15-16]
"Consider Buddha's dilemma at the time of the birth of the Jesus child in St. Luke [i.e., the Jesus described in the Gospel of Luke]. To carry his impulse into the future, [Buddha] can now work on humanity only from above ... So he inclines now over the child born to Joseph and Mary in Nazareth for a very special purpose ... [T]he Being of the Buddha entered into the astral body of the St. Luke Jesus." [pp. 19-20]
"[C]omparison of the facts of time in the St. Luke and St. Matthew Gospels indicates one Gospel tells the story or one family: Joseph, Mary and Jesus and the other tells the story of another family: Joseph, Mary and Jesus." [p. 24]
"The Bethlehem couple traces its origin back to the Solomon or kingly line of the House of David. The other couple in Nazareth traces its to the Nathan or priestly line." [p. 28]
"Unlike the Nathan-child, whose function it was to impart fresh forces of, [sic] the Solomon Jesus-child was to bring to humanity great maturity. Under the guidance of all the Powers [i.e., gods] concerned, the soul embodied [in the Solomon Jesus-child] had an impressive lists of earlier embodiments ... He appeared as Cyrus the Great and the prophet Daniel ... This Individuality was none other than Zarathustra, now re-embodied in the Jesus-child described in the Gospel of St. Matthew." [pp. 32-33]
"Zarathustra had...forces he could reclaim. After numerous embodiments, he had surrendered his astral body to be used by Hermes in the creation of the Egyptian culture and he had surrendered his etheric body to Moses in the formation of the Hebrew culture ... By being born in the body of the St. Matthew Jesus-child in Hebrew lands, he gathered back his bequest to Hebrew culture; now it was necessary for him to return to the geographic area of Egypt to fetch back, as it were, the rest of his forces. So, reincarnated as Jesus of the Solomon line of the House of David, he was led to Egypt." [pp. 37-38]
"[W]e see two Jesus-children growing up. After the Nathan-Joseph's family returned from Bethlehem, they continued to live in Nazareth with their son. They had no other children ... When Joseph and Mary of the Solomon line returned with their son from Egypt, they settled in Nazareth and had several more children...." [p. 45]
"The two sets of parents were in friendly relationship and the two Jesus children grew up as near neighbors until they were twelve years old ... [T]he Zarathustra-Ego, which up to then had lived in the body of the Solomon-line Jesus, now left that body and passed into the body of the Nathan-Jesus ... Deep intensity of feeling had already been apparent in the Nathan-Jesus-boy. When the Zarathustra Individuality passed into him, inner illuminations flashed up in him ... The radiant sun of Zoroastrian wisdom flashed up in him...." [pp. 46-49]
"Between the ages of twelve and eighteen, while he was engaged in his daily work of carpentry and wood joining, the Zarthustra-Ego saw the incapacity of souls of his own day to unfold into the light behind the Sun ... His inner eye revealed to him the mismatch between the wisdom of the past and the audiences of today." [p. 51]
"What became of the Solomon-Jesus-child around the age of twelve? When his individuality went out of him, Solomon-Jesus could not continue to develop within Earth conditions ... [I]nevitably a kind of dying or withering process set in ... [T]he young mother of the Nathan-Jesus, called Mary [also] died ... The Nathan-child was now orphaned on his mother's side ... The Solomon-Joseph had already died. So the Solomon-Mary, the older Mary, together with her children...were taken into the house of the Nathan-Joseph." [p. 55]
"Between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four, [Jesus] wandered through neighboring and more remote districts ... Then, in accordance with the Fifth Gospel, a strange thing happened and through the working of cosmic law it happened again and again: as people sat around their table in the evening, they one and all saw him enter as a spirit-form ... The families he had been with [in this way] never again felt separated from him." [pp. 61-62]
"As a result of the Zarathustra-Ego passing over into his soul, Jesus of Nazareth possessed a high degree of clairvoyance. Because of his efforts in other times, he received this in a natural unfolding ... In this way he was able to learn by actual first hand [sic] observation of the souls of the heathen people ... Jesus of Nazareth witnessed a priest enacting rites of a cult at many a heathen altar, he saw how numerous demonic beings were attracted to the spot ... [H]e also often observed these demonic powers passing over into the believers participating in these rites." [pp. 62-63]
"The decay of ancient pagan teachings came before the soul of Jesus of Nazareth even more forcibly than the decline of the ancient Hebrew wisdom ... [T]ruly demonic powers were being invoked in once-sacred rites." [p. 67]
"The first thirty years of the life of Jesus was a human biography ... The three short years between the Baptism and the Mystery of Golgotha are more than a human biography. They contain the progressive miracle of the incarnation of the Christ in the man, Jesus of Nazareth ... What took place at the Baptism was the actual birth into the physical world of the Christ Being ... A unique being was now living on the Earth, a Being free of all Earthly antecedents ... The figure of Jesus of Nazareth in whom the Christ or Logos was incarnated, brought into human life and history what had previously only streamed down to the Earth from the Sun." [pp. 121-122]
There is, of course, much more to the story. Interested readers should get copies of THE FIFTH GOSPEL and/or RUDOLF STEINER'S FIFTH GOSPEL IN STORY FORM and follow the narrative to its conclusion. But we have seen enough to comprehend the general nature of Steiner's "correction" of the New Testament. And perhaps the most important image we should retain is the one Dickson provides when remembering his training to become a Waldorf teacher. He and his fellow aspirants sat "in a comfy living room...reading aloud Rudolf Steiner’s Fifth Gospel transcripts, round-robin style, a paragraph at a time." This image drives home the reality that Waldorf education is tightly linked to the mysticism of Anthroposophy. This reality is often denied, but it is clearly true. Dickson provides an informative glimpse into the actual lives of the sort of mystically-minded individuals who are drawn to become Waldorf teachers. And this raises a question for parents. Do you want people such as these, sitting in that comfy room, reveling in occult fantasies (which they embrace as deep spiritual truths), to take control of your children's education?
Despite having trained to become a Waldorf teacher, Dickson evidently made other career choices, although his interest in Rudolf Steiner — and particularly Steiner’s Fifth Gospel — remained strong. RUDOLF STEINER’S FIFTH GOSPEL IN STORY FORM is a revised version of a previous book of Dickson's titled simply RUDOLF STEINER’S FIFTH GOSPEL (Xlibris, 2001).
(To read other accounts of Waldorf teacher training, along with reports by individuals who have indeed served as Waldorf teachers, see “Teacher Training”, “He Went to Waldorf”, “Ex-Teacher 2”, and the pages that follow “Ex-Teacher 2”.)
Steiner's "Fifth Gospel" is a topic of enduring fascination for Anthroposophists. Here are excerpts from a report on the SteinerBooks Spiritual Research Seminar 2010 titled "The Fifth Gospel: An Opening into the Heart of the Christ’s Ongoing Work for Humanity":
"Chris  gave a full and deep review of the content and significance of Rudolf Steiner’s sharing of a 'fifth gospel,' beginning in October of 1913 in Christiania (now Oslo), Norway, and continuing in other cities into February of 1914. It includes the life events of Jesus from age 12 to age 30, a period left blank in the previously known gospels. This fifth gospel is meant, Chris said, to make possible an 'initiation of the heart.' As a spiritual gospel it was known to the Rosicrucians, but Rudolf Steiner now brought 'icons of cognitive feeling' to transform life. 'We need a school of selflessness,' said Dr. Steiner, and these lectures point toward an all-embracing love made possible by the Holy Spirit.
"Our understanding of Christ must be transformed. His role in history is greater now than ever. Recall how initially He was carried into the hearts of the simplest, uneducated people. And with the first Pentecost or Whitsun, the power of Christ poured out over the Earth. The death of Jesus had meant the birth of Cosmic Love on the Earth. The story of the 'missing' eighteen years of the life of Jesus, followed by the descent of the Christ and his three-and-a-third years in a human body on Earth, as revealed in these lectures, shows the transformation of the deepest passive suffering into active suffering....
"Chris ended with the thought, 'We should be willing to act as balm for all wounds.'"
Peter Selg  was the seminar’s main speaker, giving three talks over the two days....
"Peter expressed his mission of showing Rudolf Steiner’s deeper intentions, especially to younger people today, as reading of the collected works decreases. The Fifth Gospel lectures were closed events for branches only, to help keep them on the original high level. (They were given in the first year after the founding of the original separate Anthroposophical Society.) Now my life task, said Peter, is to open hearts and ears to Steiner’s words, and I want to bring together this Fifth Gospel with our life experience now, with the 20th century’s experiences, and with the future.
"In 1910 in Palermo Rudolf Steiner had mentioned a 'fifth gospel' in connection with the 'reappearance of the Christ in the etheric.'  The whole task of anthroposophy is to prepare this event. Steiner acted in a certain way in the tradition of John-the-Baptist preparing for this event. Yet 'we really know nothing of Steiner’s inner life in these years.' The summer of 1913 was difficult, he had a feeling of dying every morning. It was like the situation of Christ Jesus, and it was a decision of the Christ for Rudolf Steiner to bring forward this Fifth Gospel.
"To talk about this, as Steiner did initially, in Scandinavia, provided a special spiritual atmosphere. He said that all the gospels originated in the spiritual world and should be reproduced in their original forms. Where science today might speak of collective memories, Rudolf Steiner spoke of an 'Akashic record,' a spiritual script, a 'chronicle of becoming' as Steiner said. This is to be contrasted with 'archive truth.' The spiritual world is the life space of the hierarchies. The Archai (who rank above the Angels and Archangels) are the spirits of ends and beginnings.  The task is to read in their consciousness. It is a question of making a commitment to the Archai, a self-sacrifice, of offering oneself, one’s consciousness, as food for them. 'We to the Archai are as grains of wheat to us... I am living their life in them.'
"Higher research is a matter of pain and suffering. And with the original, halting, almost improvised style of the lectures in Christiania, Rudolf Steiner 'became a brother' for his listeners. He had never read about the crucifixion in the Bible, he approached it first from his own research.  The anthroposophical movement was weak, the society was difficult. They did not fully grasp what he offered. Who then was the real audience for these lectures? Unborn souls? The elemental beings? His presentation took on, by the January 1914 lecture in Berlin, a composed, written style. There was more to share, but Rudolf Steiner had to stop bringing it.
"Who is really able to say of himself, herself, that 'I am a pupil of Rudolf Steiner'?"
"Peter Selg continued on Saturday with the remarkable insights provided by Rudolf Steiner into the bodily requirements for the incarnation of a great spiritual being, the Christ. That there were 'two Jesus children' seems at first blush like the most difficult idea to understand, even though the Matthew and Luke Gospels present two different ancestries, birth stories, and childhoods, and we now know that two kinds of Messiah had been expected. One of the Jesus boys was the least earthly of human beings, who had never incarnated before and carried the original human potential without any darkening of karmic error.
"This child, the Luke Jesus, is a 'child of humanity,' intellectually backward but a genius of the heart with special power to feel the joys and sorrows of others. The other child was the reincarnation of the greatest initiate, who had previously attained to the highest insights into the cosmic development and plan for the human being. So when the selfhood of the Matthew child abandons its life and body and enters into the consciousness sheaths of the other child at the age of twelve, a singular human being is prepared who combines wisdom and innocence in the fullest measure.
"And the eighteen years about which the four original gospels are silent — these are a chronicle of profound suffering of soul and spirit. It includes Jesus’ recognition of the loss of spiritual connection in the Israelite mainstream, in the surrounding world of paganism, and even among the reclusive spiritual elite, the Essenes. And when Jesus is thirty and has reached the depth of despair, there is the final sharing of it with Mary. In speaking it to her, the sorrow achieves a further reality. And in hearing and receiving it, she, too, is raised back to a state of innocence. The wise selfhood of the Matthew child now departs the body as he finds his way to the Jordan to be baptized by John and receive the being of the Christ."