with copies to the publisher “Verlag am Goetheanum” and to the Executive Council (Vorstand) of the General Anthroposophical Society and to other leading figures at the Goetheanum.
Translation: Tom Mellett and Frank Thomas Smith
April 8, 2013
Dear Mr. Prokofieff,
Your book, Time Travels – A Counter-Image of Anthroposophical Spiritual Research (Verlag am Goetheanum, 2013), provides us with a clear justification to address this open letter to you. We do this because the book is not only a renewed and ruthless attack on Ms. Judith von Halle – against both her person and her writings – but above all because the depictions in your book are neither anthroposophical nor spiritual-scientific, nor can they be upheld in any way as objective, besides which you have so far rejected any discussion in this matter.
Since the book was published at the Goetheanum, then this letter is also being sent to the editorial board of the publisher and the leadership at the Goetheanum. As you know, Ms. von Halle is a member of the General Anthroposophical Society and a member of the Free School for Spiritual Science. She has written a series of books on anthroposophical-Christological themes, and, in most cases, she has provided, “a priori,” a concise characterization of her personal and methodological foundations. They are – in addition to the given “continuity of consciousness” – the specific anthroposophical forms of super-sensible cognition (Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition).
Since 2004, and concomitant with her stigmatization and abstention from food, she has developed an ability to perceive events that are distant both in space and in time – and to perceive them in a sense-perceptible (or “quasi-sense-perceptible”) way. Since that time, Ms. von Halle has described, among other things, the actual events of the life, the dying, the death and resurrection of Christ as well as the lives of other people central to Christianity. The descriptions are partly super-sensible, partly quasi-sensory and partly from both perspectives. You, Mr. Prokofieff, call the work of Ms. von Halle “deeply un-Christian,” or else refer to it as the “end of anthroposophy.”
In your present book, Time Travels, you describe her work as “blasphemous” (p. 17), as a “sophisticated attack on anthroposophy,” as “intentionally occult,” that her work is driven by “explicit spiritual powers" and is “hostile to” Rudolf Steiner and his work (p. 114). All of this could be, according to you, “deduced with certainty” on the basis of anthroposophy (p. 114). These allegations are exceptionally serious because they were formulated when you were still a member of the Vorstand [Executive] of the General Anthroposophical Society, and because your new book has been published by the “Verlag am Goetheanum”. In accordance with our understanding, your intention in making these allegations is to obliterate the existence of Ms. von Halle from the [Anthroposophical] Society. Therefore we are obliged to speak out in no uncertain terms: If your statements in their details and in their totality are not true and if they are not based on Spiritual Science and on the Gospels, but rather on irrational speculation, as it appears to us, then your accusations amount to spiritual defamation. We believe that this is true. Therefore, concerning this matter, we urge you to perform some critical self-reflection. The following examples establish the necessity for it:
You criticize, and in an extremely polemical way (p. 65-68), Ms. von Halle’s interpretation that Lazarus was not merely in a death-like sleep before his raising, but was in fact dead (pp. 65-68). But what do we read in the Gospel of John? Jesus said: “Lazarus is dead.” Martha said: "He already stinks." Rudolf Steiner also related the raising of Lazarus and others to the three-day sleep-like state of the ancient initiations; but, in addition to this, he also said: “The earthly body [of Lazarus] was actually dead for three days.” (GA 08, Chapter: The Lazarus Miracle). Your polemic on this point, Mr. Prokofieff, is utterly devoid of any foundation.
Concerning von Halle’s interpretation, you scoff and write (p. 64): “However, according to von Halle, the bound-up corpse remained behind in the grave and an entirely new body for the I of Lazarus arose within a few hours...” and you see this in contradiction to the Gospel of John, where Lazarus came out of the grave “with his hands and feet bound up in the shroud”. But Ms. von Halle’s description does not allow anyone to conclude that a bound corpse remains behind in the grave. She describes the Raising [of Lazarus] as an unreal figure, appearing to Christ Jesus as “sleepwalking and fully detached from its binding shroud.” [emphasis added by signatories]. (J. von Halle, The Mystery of Lazarus and the Three Johns, 2009, p. 125) . For all your ridicule, Mr. Prokofieff, there is just no underlying factual basis.
Ms. von Halle writes that the two thieves crucified next to Jesus were not nailed down, but instead were tied with their arms spread over the crossbeam. Against this, you hypothesize that this claim cannot possibly be true. Otherwise, since the Sabbath was approaching, the two robbers would not have required their legs to be broken. This was done so that they could no longer be supported by their legs and as a result, they would speedily die. As you write, if the thieves had only been tied, then they “would have been able to survive for hours with broken legs” (p.55). But this is a complete fabrication on your part.
Contrast that with a fact easily accessible in the public domain today: A few years ago, when all Alpine mountain climbers had to be roped under the armpits, they were most terrified by the prospect of “hanging free” at the end of the rope. Why? Because after a few minutes, the climber would lose consciousness and could not survive for long after that. – What’s more: your alleged "circumstantial evidence" presupposes that it was in fact the lower extremities, the "legs," that were deliberately broken. But the Greek word for “legs” = skevlh can also be translated as "limbs" or “bones” and thus there is perfect agreement with the [Biblical] John-Isaiah* prophecy of Christ: “Not a bone of him shall be broken,” ( John 19:37)*. After all, this version exactly fits J. von Halle’s description of the scene. By contrast, your evidence against Ms. von Halle is lacking logical substance.
*[Ed. note: The bone-breaking prophecies are found in Exodus & Psalms, but not in Isaiah and the correct Gospel verse is John 19:36.]
You postulate that Ms. von Halle wants to lead the reader’s view away from the spiritual down to the “mere earthly-physical.” (p. 72). That is an odd assertion. After all, the title of Ms. von Halle’s first book is: And If He Has Not Been Raised... : The Stations of Christ's Path to Spirit Man. Plus her writings all shed light on the spiritual background of the Christian mysteries. Moreover, it is not true that, as you write, that von Halle has focused “solely” on the sufferings of Jesus and that this demonstrates a "ecstatic plunging into her own feelings." Of course we must not overlook the fact that Rudolf Steiner had criticized the exclusively one-sided focus on the suffering of Jesus, but, on the other hand he also said: “the connection of humanity with the pain of Christ must always become more and more specific and concrete.” (GA 148, P. 277/8). And yet it is just these descriptions by Ms. von Halle that can be excellent contributions toward that end.
Next you write that stigmatized individuals, such as Ms. von Halle, are intensely focused on Good Friday, while the Mystery of the Resurrection remains closed to them (p. 75). Thus the stigmatic Anna Katharina Emmerick in her book The Bitter Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, wrote more than 200 pages about Good Friday, but only 7 pages on Holy Saturday and not even 2 pages for the Resurrection on Sunday. But, obviously, in a collection with this title, the Good Friday events must have top priority. If you want to criticize A.K. Emmerick with this line of argument, then you should have already sifted through her entire work, for then, the ratios would turn out to be something else..
But now for Ms. von Halle herself: Her first book, mind you, is entitled And If He Has Not Been Raised... and here we find the exact opposite of what you say: 9 pages about the crucifixion on Good Friday (p. 77-85), 21 pages on the events of Holy Saturday (p. 87-107), and 27 pages concerning the Resurrection on Easter Sunday (pp. 141-167).
Ms. von Halle explains that, at the Last Supper, the chalice contained large and equal quantities of wine and water – all transformed into Christ's own spiritual blood – and it was distributed to the disciples for them to drink. Then Christ washed his own hands in the leftover portion of this spiritual blood. Thus he indicated symbolically that he takes responsibility of his own free will for the sacrifice of his being and was not bound by the capriciousness of the betrayal. Then he had this fluid – wine and water, his spiritual blood – distributed to the disciples in the cup, and they drank it. (J. von Halle, The Last Supper, 2008, pp. 99-100) At this, you comment, Mr. Prokofieff: “In retrospect, I had to ask myself how anyone would really know of such rituals where the hands are washed in the body and blood of a man.”
“Every well-read person knows of such rituals as the black magic mysteries of the Mayans, where, among other things, the body of the captured person was sliced up and the priest actually washed his hands in the blood-soaked intestines or other organs” (p. 38). - Dear Mr. Prokofieff, we are astounded. You denounce von Halle because she attributed a corresponding black magic activity to Christ!
But where does Ms. von Halle write about a prisoner? Or about cutting open his intestines? Where does she mention the material blood of a man slain physically? Or the washing of hands in blood-soaked human bodies? Ms. von Halle wrote of something diametrically opposite: namely, the spiritual blood of Christ, which had moistened his hands. – Mr. Prokofieff, your reasoning is abstruse, and unfortunately your book contains many similar accusations. Even in your earlier writings you have included depictions of Ms. von Halle as completely mistaken and in your latest book you repeat many of them: she’s wrong about the Last Supper, the Grail Cup, Gethsemane, the shape of the cross, the Baptism.
Just as in these other cases, as well as in your accusation of somnambulism, your criticism of Ms. Von Halle is undeniably the same as given in the above examples, that is to say, baseless and specious. The relevant details will be published in an article to appear in the Journal of Anthroposophy in the summer of 2013. That manuscript was already delivered to you by its editors in the fall of 2012, and also the Verlag am Goetheanum and the Goetheanum leadership should have received their copies by now.
It is not only individual examples and specific sentences – all we need do is quote from your current book – but also that your positions and your methodology are in principle extremely dubious. It begins when you omit whatever Ms. von Halle says about her own methodology. You are silent on her specifications for the abilities of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition; and omit her abstention from food and her stigmatization (“I'm not interested”) and you dismiss it as “her private life,” or “a personal matter” (p. 8). On the other hand, however, that has not stopped you from arguing that stigmatization has no justification whatsoever in the context of anthroposophy and furthermore is a symptom of a pathological condition. (S.O. Prokofieff, The Resurrection in the Light of Anthroposophy, 2008, pp. 157-169)
After putting those many blinders on your vision, you end up taking into account only her quasi-sensory perceptions of past events, but then with a peculiar and incomprehensible twist: you refer to these quasi-sensory perceptions – which obviously cannot be achieved with physical sense organs – as “body-bound, sense perceptions” (e.g. p. 22) or as “physically-bound visions,” and then say this is the “counter-image of anthroposophical spiritual science” (the very title of your new book!). But these "body-bound sensory perceptions,” these kinds of visions, are entirely yours, Mr. Prokofieff, they are your own individual and personal misrepresentations of what Judith von Halle stands for. But you do correctly criticize your own distorted imaginings.
According to her own words, Ms. von Halle executes her quasi-sensory perceptions of past events with the help of the so-called phantom-body. As we all know, the phantom-body is a central aspect of anthroposophical christology.
Indeed you yourself built up a sizable theoretical structure against Ms. von Halle upon which your own conception of the Mystery of Golgotha is built, described in your two books The Mystery of the Resurrection in the Light of Anthroposophy (2008) and And the Earth becomes Sun (2012). Your concept contends that the resurrected one did not appear in the phantom-body to Mary Magdalene and the disciples, but in his etheric body. Nevertheless Rudolf Steiner, whom you constantly rely on, specifically emphasizes that Mary and the disciples saw the phantom body (GA 131, 10/12/1911).
Steiner characterized this body seen by the disciples (the phantom-body) as an “etheric body condensed to the point of visibility” (GA 130, 1/9/1912), that is, an etheric body condensed to a physical spatial body, or an etherized physical body, so to speak. The stigmata areas are especially thick, especially compressed. Steiner speaks of “scars” on the condensed etheric body – the phantom-body (GA 130, 1/9/1912).
What happened to this phantom-body? According to Steiner, it was duplicated in the spiritual world and since then can be gradually received by people who prepare themselves for it (GA 131, 10/14/1911). Is it then so difficult to understand that this phantom-body, which is no material body, but a thought-body, a “real thought in the outer world” (GA 131, p. 150), that this phantom-body is not subject to the material conditions of time and space and is endowed “with all the [structural and functional] characteristics of the physical body” (GA 131, 10/11/1911)? Perceiving, which corresponds to sensory perception, is also potentially possible, thus quasi-sensory perceptions, but not bound to spatial and temporal limits; and furthermore that under the influence of this phantom-body, this especially condensed etheric or force-field-body (Steiner used both expressions) can for certain people affect his/her substance formation and therewith also abstention from food.
In this respect, Rudolf Steiner explicitly referred to the hyper-sensitivity of the phantom-body to physical foodstuffs (GA 131, page 185). Anthroposophical conceptions offer an explanation of how, through a special “force of attraction” to the phantom–body (GA 131, 10/14/1911), the following attributes may arise simultaneously, when appropriate: stigmatization, inability to digest food and the capacity for quasi-sensory perception of past events. Therefore the specific situation of Ms. von Halle's life and capabilities betoken neither the “end of anthroposophy”, nor is it “deeply unchristian” and also no “seed for the destruction of the anthroposophical research method” (page 31).
You are obviously mistaken in all this, Mr. Prokofieff, and you have been careless in the selection and details of your arguments. We read that you consider your attacks against Ms. von Halle as your duty towards anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner (page 10). Unfortunately, however, you have thereby fallen completely into error.
In this retort we would have liked to take the condition of your health into consideration; but Ms. von Halle's health has also been considerably affected by the repeated attacks against her person and her work. And unrelated to these personal situations, your accusations are neither comprehensible nor tenable nor acceptable. They are no less than slanderous. There is however a possibility for correction: Beg Ms. von Halle's pardon, distance yourself from the book and instruct the publisher to withdraw it.
Until now you have rejected any discussion about the subject. However, if in reference to this letter you should feel the need, we are ready and willing to discuss it.
Helmut Kiene, Benediktus Hardorp, Wolfgang Gutberlet, Elisabeth Achtschin, Werner Achtschin, Horst Biehl, Lore Deggeller, Rosemarie Froese, Johannes Grebe-Ellis, Harald Johan Hamre, Dorothea Hardorp-Knauer, Angelika Heide-Jensen, Jan Heide-Jensen, Barbara Heitmann, Christof Heitmann, Ingrid Hüther, Rolf Karges, Gunver Sophia Kienle, Karl-Herrmann Lieberknecht, Immanuel Kohn, Alfred Kon, Volker David Lambertz, Silvia Müller-Leuzinger, Josef Morel, Georg Müller, Dietrich Rapp, Gisela Reich, Götz Rehn, Ernst Schuberth, Hermann Seiberth, Rolf Speckner, Kitty Steinbuch, Rob Steinbuch, Peter Tradowsky, Beatrice Werner, Götz Werner, Michael Wiesemüller.
Editor´s note: The signers of this "open letter" are, mostly, "prominent" (meaning influential) German anthroposophists, so their willingness to compose and/or sign this very strong defense of Judith von Halle has already had an effect on the General Anthroposophical Society...and beyond. However, in reading Ms von Halle's latest book, Anna Katharina Emmerick - eine Rehabilitation, (not yet available in English) I came to the conclusion that she is perfectly able to defend herself. The book is not a pamphlet, but a 352 page biography of Emmerick, a nineteenth century Catholic nun who also bore Christ's stigmata. It is called "a Rehabilitation" because von Halle considers that she, Emmerick, has been defamed and slandered by none other than Sergei O. Prokofieff. Von Halle claims that Prokofieff did not take the trouble to investigate the considerable amount of information available in libraries and elsewhere. In fact, he couldn't even spell her name correctly: He calls her "Katharina von Emmerich" - without her first name, misspelling her family name and adding the noble "von", ridiculous for a girl coming from a very poor rural family. It is also obvious that Prokofieff is using Emmerick as a substitute for von Halle.
Following is a paragraph which gives an idea of Judith's style, at least when someone makes her angry (my translation):
"...One of the principal criticisms of Anna Katharina Emmerick which Sergei Prokofieff makes – indirectly but clearly enough and repeatedly – is that she was not an anthroposophist. This criticism may amuse the reader and he may ask himself whether over 40 pages are necessary to assert it, as is the case in the appendix of Prokofieff's above mentioned first volume on the subject. Anna Katharina Emmerick lived about one hundred years before the founding of anthroposophy; she died exactly one hundred years before the founding of the General Anthroposophical Society. Given these facts, it is hardly surprising that she was not an anthroposophist - and that she was not herself the founder of anthroposophy can hardly be held against her..." (Page 28) Frank Thomas Smith