A Contemporary Theological Anthropology of Two Jesus Children
By Mark Diebel
This paper will examine Jesus’ genealogies in Matthew and Luke from the perspective of a transracially adopted bi-racial person. It will argue that the two genealogies refer to two different people and that the identities of the two children are transculturally significant. This paper will also be concerned with knowledge and what we allow in respect of gathering information of the kind that situates us in the world so that we achieve our own perspective upon it and upon our existence. The perspective adopted here will presume a reincarnational anthropology that contextualizes the significance of bloodline and biological inheritance. Jesus Christ will be shown to be a complicated person from the perspective of his origins and to have an identity not defined from bloodline.
II. Theology as Anthropology
Let us offer a basis for pursuing a Christology within an anthropological context. The recent experience of women may help make this clearer. One concrete and practical question has been raised as to Jesus’ maleness in respect of salvation as it relates to women. 1 A woman with more at stake in the reply than a man might ask, if what is not assumed is not saved, then is a woman saved? This question is historically young in that for millennia it was common sense that women and men were equally saved by Christ’s salvific work. The question presses more needfully as one inquires regarding a theology of ordination to the priesthood. Can a woman become a priest? Many will argue that a woman cannot. One reason given is that the male is the alter christos and therefore in his body the priest represents Christ. In this theology, the sex of the physical body is significant and essential. In respect of the earlier question, does this thinking imply that the salvation he offers extend only to men? Conversely, does a salvation offered to both men and women have any implications for ordination? What we say theologically, that Christ imparts salvation, therefore relates to certain anthropology and vice versa.
On a more ethereal level, Karl Rahner asks how a theological detail such as angels might be anthropologically considered.2 He first observes that a modern person looking into the “so-called revelation” of angels may be lead to conclude in support of his or her skepticism that angels “drifted into the minds of Old Testament theologians from their cultural and religious environment” and that what angels have to do with him or her is unimportant since their presence in scripture seems little more than an accident of history. Rahner re-frames the question, “where in [a person’s] theological understanding of himself is there an area which might be occupied by an angelology?” In other words, “what is really expressed in revelation is not the existence and nature of angels as such at all, but [humanity’s] relationship with them. Angels are assumed as given.” Angels are part of the cosmos and humans exist in relationship with them. Human beings are changed without angels in the cosmic ecosystem. They are part of anthropology.
There is another way to see the relationship between theology or Christology and anthropology. All theological assertions are simultaneously about humanity.3 Because salvation is the object in all scriptural revelation, all theology is “essentially salvation theology,” and therefore, all theological inquiries are simultaneously inquiries to humanity’s “saving receptivity for” the theological object, the proffer of salvation from God. Therefore there will always be the tendency and requirement to advance explanations in order to take theology from the merely theoretical or abstract. The “saving receptivity...must be reflected upon with reference to the concrete object concerned, which is only theologically relevant as a result of and for the purpose of this receptiveness for salvation [his emphasis]. The object also to some extent lays down the conditions for such receptiveness.”4 This paper will point to concretizing this receptiveness in respect of Jesus’ humanity.
Anthropology is fundamental with respect to Christology and therefore requires detailing, even though such detail will leave much unsaid.
III. Anthropological presumptions
We are presuming a reincarnational view of human beings which is contrary to the view established in the Christian west. The principle reason for the denial of reincarnation is that it conflicts with the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.5 Countering this is the fact that the insight regarding resurrection of the body was relatively young within Judaism before Christ, not much more than one hundred fifty years.6 Also, later Christian insights about it are based upon one known instance. In twenty-centuries there has been relatively little theoretical reflection about it, perhaps the most elegant, simple and often referred to is still Paul’s dicta about physical and spiritual bodies.7 In addition, the relationship between reincarnation and resurrection was not a concern of the New Testament.8 It is also difficult to see that if one were wrong about reincarnation that it would have any necessary bearing on our Christian life which already allows life and salvation without reference to it. In that respect it would fall into the category of beliefs like purgatory which is not necessary for salvation but not harmful.
On the affirmative side, a reason to accept reincarnation is the threefold anthropology of body, soul and spirit. This tripartite anthropology was commonplace in the west through the New Testament period. The spirit is eternal and is what has converse with God.9 The position is coherent in respect of human ontogeny, without which reduces to materialism. It is coherent in respect of transcendental anthropology which holds that humanity is borderless mystery.10 Also, it appears reasonable in that it has been testified to in many cultures through many ages; as well as being supported by practical testimony in regard to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, the Dalai Lama of Tibet. In respect of origin, the human being need not be thought of merely appearing once out of a mother’s womb, but possesses an uncharted history with a parallel future.
Human life on earth is characterized by a maturational process through which develops a sense of identity, self-hood and otherness.11 One’s identity is related to the past but not determined by it. This relationship needs to be examined. In the present age, mature life is characterized by human to human and human to nature relationships. To say that one lives in relationship with angels or spiritual beings of any sort is formally allowed, because God is a spiritual being, but it is philosophically problematic. A turning of some sort, a metanoia, may be required during which a person actively reconsiders his identity and the nature of the world. The requirement appears as an insight and promise. Humanity is capable of bringing forth something new. As persons approach death, self-consciousness, consciousness of existence and the world may intensify.12 Upon dying persons proceed in some mysterious way that is not obvious to everyone.
In respect of cosmic evolution, humanity is a vital part. It continues to become evident that theology should be concerned with evolutionary thought.13 In this paper it is assumed that cosmic evolution has been active during which the cosmos has changed. This cosmic evolution may also be noted to a relative degree in the communications of history through the present, approximately three thousand years. The powers and capacities that humanity possesses, such as sight, hearing, rational thought, memory and so forth, are evolved and were not always present as they are today. Humanity has gained and lost capacities. Jesus Christ, human and divine, has a pivotal relationship to cosmic evolution.
Before turning to the specifically christological focus there is one more contextual feature to introduce.
IV. Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy
Rudolf Steiner was the initiate who provides the claim regarding the two Jesus children. Steiner was born in Kraljevec, Hungary February 27, 1861 and died at Dornach, Switzerland, March 30, 1925. He was trained in the natural sciences but his doctorate concentrated on Fichte’s epistemology. During his late twenties and early thirties he was the editor of Goethe’s scientific writings for German National Literature. His life work may be divided into the periods before and after he turned forty. In the earlier period he was not explicit about being an occultist. He writes, “gently and gradually I led over into esoteric paths.”14 After forty one may “appear publically as a teacher of occultism.”15 Central to his work was science. He writes, “No one would be able to say: this occultist speaks about the spiritual world because he does not know the philosophical and scientific achievements of the age.”16 From his work various movements, including the Anthroposophical Society, took root and sprouted.17 For example, the Camphill Communities serve person with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs.18 Waldorf Schools provide education for children around the world with over 900 schools on five continents.19 Biodynamic farming initiatives exist around the world.20 The Christian Community is a movement for Christian renewal formed with the help of Friedrich Rittelmeyer, a Lutheran pastor. There are Christian Community congregations around the world.
One thing that set Steiner apart from many of his contemporaries was a natural ability to perceive things beyond ordinary sense perception. For example, when he was eight he tells the story of encountering an apparition of a recently deceased relative.
That the spiritual world is a reality was as certain to me as the reality of the physical. But I needed some kind of justification for this assumption. I wanted to prove to myself that it is no more an illusion to experience the spiritual world than it is to experience the physical. In regard to geometry I could say that one is privileged to know something which the soul experiences solely through its own power; this, I felt, justified me in speaking about the spiritual I experienced, just as I spoke about the physical. And I did speak of it that way. My mental pictures were of two kinds; I differentiated between things that were ‘seen’ and things that were ‘not seen.’ This, though as yet undefined, played an important role in my inner life even before my eighth year.21
This gift is what set him on a course of becoming an occultist. It should probably be said that gifts of this sort are not completely uncommon.22 The degree of his gift was uncommon but so was the depth of his desire to relate these perceptions within an Idealist philosophical system and in the context of the material scientific system that then existed. He held that spiritual gifts must be contextualized by taking account of the world as it has become. Revelations from the spiritual world must address that reality. Spiritual life is a discipline that should provide practical wisdom from above.23
What is relevant in the work of Steiner to Christology is compactly expressed in his Autobiographical Sketch where he discusses the Theosophical Society of which he had been a president of the Berlin chapter,
Continued successful development [of the Theosophical Society] in the Western countries is dependent on how far it proves able to assimilate the principle of Western initiation. For Eastern initiations must, of necessity, leave untouched the Christ-principle as the central cosmic factor of evolution. Yet without this principle the Theosophical movement must remain without any decisive effect on Western culture, which has the life of Christ as its point of origin. In the West, the revelations of Oriental initiation would have to live as a mere sectarian alongside the living culture. Their only hope of affecting evolution would be if they could eradicate the Christ-principle from Western Culture. This, however, would be identical with extinguishing the essential meaning of the earth, which lies in the knowledge and realization of the intentions of the living Christ.24
As one can see, for Steiner, Christ is alive and the central agent in the evolution of the earth. This will be a Christology that is cosmic, evolutionary and contextual in respect of its self-conscious western commitments. Methodologically his Christology begins with spiritual perception and in that way is an ascending Christology, though in a different manner than it is usually meant. Ascending Christology usually begins from historical documents and archeological data. In Steiner’s turn, the historical Jesus is knowable and apprehensible through a seer’s ability to read the “Akashic record”. A reader of the Akasha is reading the memory of world and in this way can work from below to form a christology.25 The method works in making concrete claims.
For example, Steiner disclosed that there were in fact two Jesus children.26 These two children had two different sets of parents, both named Mary and Joseph; one family who lived in Nazareth and the other who lived in Bethlehem. In one case, the father received visions anticipating the child and in the other case it was the mother Mary. One child has an interior relation to Zoroaster (=Zarathustra) and the other to the Buddha and who was “once born.” The difference between the children is indicated in various ways by the two respective infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke. That the two infancy narratives were problematic was noted almost as soon as they were compared with one another.27 Eusebius, for example, explains that there were two different Josephs, one descended from Jacob (cf. Matt) and the other from Heli (cf. Luke); one was the actual father and the other the legal.28 With all this in mind we turn to the genealogies of Jesus.
IV. The genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke
Genealogy is a popular hobby these days. It is one of the ways that people understand themselves. Stories about parents, aunts and uncles, help explain why a person looks or moves the way he does. Many adopted persons have the tie to their past severed either through court action or bureaucratic procedures. This hiatus may negatively affect the adoptee and their issue with regard to genetically inheritable conditions. Lack of this fundamental information propels the movement for equal access to birth records.29
In the ancient world it was commonplace knowledge that a person’s origins disclose something about them. Scripture attests to this when John’s Gospel offers “we do not know where he comes from” as evidence of dubiousness as to Jesus’ identity.30 Paul offers his bona fides by citing that he was an “Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.”31 The Old Testament contains many genealogies because lineage was a basic foundation of the social order.32 In post-exilic Israel one’s ability to establish a lineage and the purity of bloodline was a basis for a social caste system headed by Priests, Levites and Israelites followed by the lower classes. The bottom castes, depending on the system, included foundlings, freed slaves or hermaphrodites. The upper classes’ lineage, especially the Priests’, was carefully watched, as were potential wives, through the lens of the “ancient [genealogical] tables.”33 These tables may or may not have been written, but for persons who were not priests there were probably only oral histories. As important as lineage was, there was an exception to its careful and detailed rules of precedence.
A priest precedes a Levite, a Levite an Israelite, an Israelite a bastard, a bastard a Nathin; a Nathin a proselyte, and a proselyte a freed slave. This applies when they all are [otherwise] equal; but if a bastard is learned in the Law and a High Priest is ignorant of the Law, the bastard that is learned in the Law precedes the High Priest that ignorant of the Law.34
Learning the Law trumps bloodline. There was another concern that bloodlines get mixed up and that this will one day make it hard to identify who is who, only Elijah can decide.
R. Johanan [A.D. 75] said: By the Temple! It is in our power [to reveal the families of impure birth in Palestine]; but what shall I do seeing that the greatest men of our time are mixed up therein...Once a family becomes mixed up, it remains so...Such as these Elijah will come to declare unclean or clean, to expel and to admit.35
These examples indicate that society was somewhat practical in respect of bloodline. It is not absolute, it is not solely determinative.
With respect to the Matthean and Lukan nativity stories, including the genealogies, it seems commonplace to minimize their importance, as N.T. Wright does, or to explain them in such a way that their facticity is negated, as we see in Borg. This is a natural enough conclusion since it is hard to see how they can refer to only one person. Wright uses an argument to dismiss them in that they are not an essential part of the gospel as would be identified by Paul in, for example, 1 Cor. 15:3-10.36 Borg argues that they are literary creations but not historically accurate.37 In what sense then are the genealogies significant? If we determine that they signify two separate persons, they may help advance an understanding of the humanity of Jesus.
Curious in both the Matthean and Lukan genealogies is a wealth of detail that does not seem to serve much purpose, or that serves a purpose that seems to harm Jesus’ pedigree. For an example of the latter, Matthew incorporates without qualm Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and ‘the wife of Uriah’ in his genealogy as well as the later King Jechoniah. The Sadducees sought to establish another basis for the kingship than through David and found a polemic to challenge such a pedigree via the presence of gentiles in the Davidic line, namely Tamar, Ruth and Bathsheba.38 The fact that who one married was very important in Judea in Jesus’ day lent weight to these concerns for lineage, a weight not felt so strongly today. Another concern with Bathsheba, who is called in Matthew’s genealogy the “wife of Uriah,” was an ever present reminder of David’s murder of Uriah.39 That murder remained a blemish on David and was felt so even in the intertestamental period.40 Compounding difficulty in the genealogy is Rahab who, like the other women, is a non-Israelite but had never figured in rabbinic thought as part of the Davidic lineage.41 As odd a choice as she is for inclusion in the genealogy, there was a tradition about Rahab [c. 80-120 A.D.] that she was an ancestor of priestly prophets,
Rahab the harlot who was an innkeeper. Eight priests and eight prophets descended from her! They are: Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Seraiah, Machsaiah, Baruch, Meraiah, Hanamel, and Shallum. Also Hulda the prophetess was a descendant of Rahab. Now if she, who came from a people of whom it is said: ‘Thou shalt not leave alive any soul,’ because she drew near [to God], God drew her near [to himself], much more so with Israel.42
Perhaps this inclusion helped Matthew’s message in the community of which he was a part for a reason similar to this midrash: testimony to God’s mercy.
If we accept this as sufficient reason for including this woman, there remains the difficult fact of Jeremiah’s curse of Jechoniah (Jer. 22:24-30) that would seem to preclude all possibility of fruitful issue in that line. That this was seriously considered a problem is noted by Eusebius (ca. 300 CE) who held that Luke had heard the controversies surrounding Jechoniah’s inclusion and created an alternate genealogy to exclude him.43 Notwithstanding Eusebius’ late date, all of these were established lines of concern in pre-Christian rabbinic44 and Christian thought, and stood in the way of Pharisaic Judaism which realized that it must somehow overlook or explain these facts away if it were to continue along coherent lines, with the exception of Rahab. Matthew’s use of these names reflects very deliberate intentions. It is unlikely that Matthew wanted to strengthen an association with Pharisaic party, but perhaps wanted to reach out to the pious Judeans who opposed the rabbis of Jamnia, descendants of the Sadducees who may have been geographic neighbors to him.45 Strengthening ties with the Pharisees works against the overall rhetoric of the gospel itself, though appealing to some among them would make sense in a community in which there was more than one school of Judaism present.46 The so-called index of discontinuity says “historicity is inferred only when a Jesuanic tradition is discontinuous with both the tendencies of the community that transmitted it and the Jewish world within which Jesus lived and taught.”47 This principle would suggest that the genealogy is true or intended as such. The genealogy presented problems in the Jewish world and the community Matthew wrote for which was largely Jewish.
The alternative theory found the Messiah’s lineage through Levi, in a priestly line that went through Nathan, a brother of Solomon.48 If Matthew is presenting something true about Jesus’ genealogy, what are we to make of the Lukan tradition which clearly contradicts it? Johnson makes the case that Luke was aware of a “somewhat esoteric Jewish haggadah: Luke’s rejection of the royal line in favor of Nathan, son of David, is most probably a reflection of a Jewish tradition that identified this Nathan with the prophet.”49 In other words, Luke’s genealogy also expresses substantive information that had been discussed widely, albeit in esoteric circles, in the period leading up to and following Jesus’ life. This does not make particular sense for Luke’s audience which may have been Hellenized Jews and gentiles. Perhaps he was providing a polemical basis for Jesus not being a threat to the social-political order: he was not really a king. Johnson notes that the contradictions between the two genealogies make them incommensurable.50 He concludes that neither of them can be accurate genealogies. In the end, the significance Johnson finds for these complex genealogies, carefully crafted and products of a great deal of controversy and thought, is that they are both a work of art. They are indeed a work of art and profound intelligence; yet, like the rest of the gospels, the genealogies are a disclosure of things which because of inherent unlikeliness are presumed impossible. Both present such an odd and difficult collection of information that is highly esoteric, that is attested in documents, that individually and mutually considered serve to weaken their credibility at the time of their writing and within their respective communities, lend weight to their being very much intended and to be taken seriously as separate genealogies.
V. The Two Children Become One
Marcus Borg says that “how we see Jesus is to a large extent the product of the lenses through which we see him.”51 The first of four lenses that he identifies is foundational, “the modern study of Jesus” which means that the gospels are the product of a developing tradition, containing “history remembered and history metaphorized.” The second lens is the study of ancient Judaism; the third is an interdisciplinary study of Jesus and Christian origins and the fourth is a cross-cultural study of religion.52 The fifth lens added here is the one of Anthroposophy which is properly subject to examination and criticism as his four. Selecting this lens is reasonable in that Anthroposophy represents a living esoteric stream and the fact that esotericism was still a living part of the Hellenic and Judaic world in Jesus’ day. One of the esoteric communities of that day was Essene which may have evolved into an Ebionite sect. Matthew may well have been related to the Essenes.53 The approach here will be to look for documentary support for the theory presented by Steiner.
According to Steiner’s reading of the Akasha, the Jesus child referred to in Matthew’s gospel, who was related to David’s line through Solomon, was a reincarnation of Zoroaster (Golden star). This child will die before reaching maturity but will profoundly affect the life of the other child whose birth was described by Luke. Zoroaster was the pre-historic figure who inaugurated the Persian culture. Respecting literary indications, Oscar Cullman describes an Ebionite tradition of the “True Prophet”, in which may be heard an echo of Zoroaster’s course through world history, “Since the creation of the world, the True Prophet hastens through the centuries, changing his name and form of appearance. He incarnated himself again and again...Jesus is the true incarnation of this Prophet.”54 Zoroastrian scholar James Moulton comments in respect of the gifts of the Magi, in particular the frankincense and myrrh, “the narrative might have been composed by a Magus for the accuracy with which it portrays Magian ideas.”55 Moulton also discusses the Fravashi which in relation to the birth of Zoroaster is described, “…the Glory descending from the eternal light to enter the house where [his] mother is to be born, uniting with her until at the age of fifteen she brings forth her son.” 56 In respect of Solomon, we will also mention the importance to the Essene community of the Zadokite priesthood.57 Zadok was the priest named alongside Abiathar, a levitical priest. Zadok’s origins are obscure in that there is a tradition that he was chief priest of Jebusite Jerusalem, before the city was taken by David.58 The Zadokite priesthood was a thorn in the side of the Levitic in that the Zadokites were pluralist with regard to other religions.59 An indication of Zakok’s closeness to Solomon is that upon Solomon’s accession, Zakok banished Abiathar.60 The Essenes, who were reviving the Zadokite priesthood, may have preserved an insight in respect of Zadok’s relationship to Solomon for the history of Israel and especially in respect of Solomon’s relationship to the royal Messiah. This close feeling for Solomon, revived by the Zadokite priesthood, compounded by Matthew’s possible locus for writing in the NE area of Syria near Edessa where there was “much Persian influence” works to bring Zoroaster up from the utter darkness of impossibility into a sort of glimmer of possibility – allowing, of course, the hypothesis of an Akashic reading.
There are no historical associations, coincidences and co-locations that can prove61 that this Jesus child was indeed Zoroaster’s incarnation. Yet, it may be seriously wondered who chose to wonder it.62 Reasonable questions may arise from a contemporary esoteric stream.
With respect of the Lukan tradition, we have found the genealogy to be a product of “a somewhat esoteric Jewish haggadah.” The Nathan child, according to Steiner, was significant in that he had never before been born and that the Nirmanakaya, the Buddha’s astral body, also called the body of transformations, worked in the angelic hosts who proclaimed Jesus’ birth to the shepherds and later into the astral body of the Nathan Jesus.63 In the respect of incarnations the Nathan child was unlike any human being in that he never experienced the effects of the fall.64 This is the manner in which Jesus is said to be sinless.
One question that must be burning is what happens to the two children. The simple answer is that the two become one, leaving behind one child, the Solomon child who, as said above, dies prematurely. Let it suffice for now to think such a thing is possible without understanding how and let us turn instead to a cross cultural study of religion. An Iranian legend comes to light about two becoming one in the Saoshyant, the savior.
The thing against which the Destructive Spirit struggles most violently is the coming together in full force of the dignities of Kingship and the Good Religion in one person, because such a conjunction must destroy him. For if the highest power of the dignity of Kingship had been joined to the highest power of the dignity of the Good Religion in Jamshid, or if the highest power of the dignity of Kingship as it existed in Jamshid had been joined to the highest dignity of the Good Religion in Zarathustra, then the Destructive Spirit would have met with swift destruction, creation would have escaped from the Aggressor, and the desired Rehabilitation would have been brought about in the two worlds....When these two dignities meet in one man, then will the Aggressor be completely vanquished and creation saved and purged; from this the final Rehabilitation proceeds. The Good Religion reveals that these two dignities will meet together in the Saoshyant.65
According to Welburn, the sense of “dignity” is as an aura of light, the glory (khvarnah) seen around a sacred person. Welburn also says that this Zoroastrian savior “deeply influenced the esoteric thought of the Essenes concerning the two Messiahs, the Priest and King, and the union of both in a single overwhelming figure.”66
In Gnostic materials with a post-Christian date we find Justinius’s Baruch. Baruch is the name of an angelic being who is identified with Zarathustra.67 What happens is recounted by Hippolytus,
Finally, however, in the days of Herod the king, Baruch is dispatched, being sent down once more by Elohim; and coming to Nazareth, he found Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary, a child of twelve years, feeding sheep. And he announces to him all things from the beginning, whatsoever had been done by Edem and Elohim, and whatsoever would be likely to take place hereafter, and spoke the following words: All the prophets anterior to you have been enticed. Put forth an effort, therefore, Jesus, Son of man, not to be allured, but preach this word unto men, and carry back tidings to them of things pertaining to the Father, and things pertaining to the Good One, and ascend to the Good One, and sit there with Elohim, Father of us all. And Jesus was obedient unto the angel, saying that, I shall do all things, Lord, and proceeded to preach.68
The Jesus child here referred to is the Nathan child, indicated by his “feeding sheep,” and the event alluded to pictorially, his proceeding to preach, corresponds to the twelve year old Jesus (Luke 2:42-52) found by his parents in the Temple “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” This may be read as two becoming one. After this “angelic” association with the Nathan child something new begins for the Lukan child. For Zoroaster’s “glory” (khvarnah) something new begins as well, though for the Solomon child there comes an end. What this exchange means for humanity remains to be seen, but a dramatic cosmic plan is imagined in these preparatory events which have yet to discuss how this relates to God as such.
After raising these questions, this paper will skip ahead to discuss new things in respect of the new creation and to Christology.
VI. Old and New Humanity
Worldviews are not something fixed and determined unless we do nothing to affect them. Marcus Borg tells an interesting story about the modern worldview which he says is basically one of “matter and energy, space and time; and it sees the world as a closed system of cause and effect.”69
This worldview has very much affected the modern study of Jesus and the Bible. Not all scholars operate within it, but it has been the majority mindset of the modern academy. When we try to see Jesus within this framework, it radically reduces what we will take seriously. There is much that we will miss, including the centrality of God for Jesus. We focus instead on what makes sense within our way of seeing.
So it was for me. There was a prolonged period in my life when the modern worldview functioned in my mind as the final arbiter of what can be taken seriously. The process was gradual. Raised as a Christian in the middle of this century, I grew up with both a religious and a secular worldview. By early adolescence, the secular worldview had begun to cause problems for my religious worldview. By my late teens and twenties, the problems had become acute. Indeed, the modern worldview had essentially crowded out the religious worldview.
But I now see things differently. In my thirties, I became aware of how
uncritically, unconsciously, and completely I had accepted the modern worldview. I saw that most cultures throughout human history have seen things differently. I realized that there are well-authenticated experiences that radically transcend what the modern worldview can accommodate. I became aware that the modern worldview is itself a relative cultural construction, the product of a particular era in human intellectual history. Though it is still dominant in Western culture, I am confident that the time is soon coming when it will seem as archaic and quaint as the Ptolomaic worldview.70
It may be that the new worldview that is developing is Anthroposophic. Or it may be a firmer version of the matter and energy, cause and effect, religious and secular view; or some other.71 Whichever worldview comes to the fore, it will be produced in the human mind. How consciously humanity considers what it perceives and what rules it applies to its thinking will work in producing the future worldview.
The two major propositions about the two Jesus children, one being related to Zoroaster and the other a unique incarnation in which the Buddha’s Nirmanakaya worked for a time, which are frankly startling, especially in relation to centuries of settled belief. It will also stretch the mind that one child can work within the personality, or as the personality, in the life of another person. This very idea may well bother us that the Nathan child’s identity seems to be stolen by such a process. These questions arise out of a worldview that is quite different than the one in which most of us grew up.
In the end, what this Jesus becomes in this esoteric imagination is a person whose identity is not founded upon bloodline.72 Whatever we make of the genealogies and their historical significance, the human Jesus is no longer merely related to bloodline but to possibilities that transcend inheritance. It was this that struck the chord for the adopted person who has no record of his birth, no name for the mother and father from whom descent may be traced. This finding is not so very different from the Black Christ.73 An adopted person, prevented from obtaining his or her history, is disconnected from the history of blood. In this anthropology of disconnection, Christology must also image disconnection so that Christ can save even these. The old humanity was concerned with bloodlines and inheritance. The new humanity finds something more upon which to base its identity and prospects.
This paper has attempted to take seriously the two genealogies presented by Matthew and Luke and provide some reasons for thinking that make sense. In order to do this it accepted a stream of esotericism developed at the dawn of the twentieth century in central Europe. It argued from a reincarnational anthropology within a Christian context, and that human identity is not determined by bloodline. This paper implicitly argued that an imaginative entrance into the world of the New Testament should be done with deliberate effort at forming a coherent worldview. Further, in order to do this sort of work, one must engage one’s fundamental anthropology without losing track of the need to remain in coherent conversation with present interests. Finally, it argues that a transcultural Christology is plausible from an esoteric perspective.
The question of ongoing revelation through the Akashic record, or anything else, is unapproached. The attraction of such a thought to an adopted person whose history has been denied by various interested and non-interested parties is that important knowledge is not in principle shut-out for lack of empirical records. Science, in restricting itself to empirical data, leaves people on their own as they situate themselves in this existence. On the other hand, theology presupposes that revelation is necessary to so orientate humanity in existence, and uses scripture to that end. Theology does not address where revelation that is already given may be insufficient for the purposes of human inquiry. This is not saying that scripture is insufficient for salvation, sufficiency is granted, but there is no reason that humanity should presuppose that there are no further questions that may be asked of God or any other spiritual being.
In the course of the paper, reincarnation appeared part of the worldview in which Zoroaster passed through many incarnations on his way to Jesus. Reincarnation was held by some in Palestine in the period in which Jesus lived. Likewise, Buddha’s back story involves numerous incarnations as well. It would be of value to understand exactly why reincarnation was lost sight of in the west.
The worldview that Borg discusses, the modern one which he sees coincident with the Enlightenment and the birth of modern science, may actually be an evolution of the old view. That the religious world has been separating from the secular world for millennia, was part of the Zoroastrian insight. Today’s questions of human identity are related to matter (genetics, nature) and to culture (nurture). What does not come from either nature or nurture in respect of human identity but arises within a human embodied life needs further examination.
Adopted persons and persons born using assisted reproductive technology have no choice in the policies which society sets for them. The anthropology we establish, which will relate to the Christology we proclaim, will arise from the methods we use in deciding important things about who we are. Traditional scientific methods will not get us far in terms of human identity. Theology must be more explicit with respect to transcultural anthropology. Both science and theology will need to adjust in response to changing anthropology.
In respect of cosmic evolution, what humanity allows itself to think about will have direct bearing upon the future of the earth and its inhabitants. A sense of compassion for others including nature, and what is at stake if a significant change is not made, may help fire up the courage to think differently. Thinking differently should, however, always be surprising and challenging, since it has not been thought before.
Finally, Jesus Christ must be explicated ever more concretely, as Rahner says. In this movement from abstraction to concrete there is a sort of hope that meaning can bring. It is there, in meaning, that human beings are refreshed.
Mark Diebel was introduced to the work of Rudolf Steiner by reading Owen Barfield’s "Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry" during his undergraduate studies of Chemistry. In his late twenties he pursued a vocation to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. During seminary years he began reading Anthroposophic literature. He wrote several essays on Anthroposophy, one of which was sent to Owen Barfield. He has been a parish priest for twenty-six years, mostly in the mid-Hudson region of New York, an area known for many anthroposophical endeavors. He is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. His thesis project through the Department of Theology and Philosophy concerns the life and experiences of donor conceived adults. Mark is a mixed-race adopted person. He is married to Beth and they have two grown boys. This paper was written for a Christology course at Barry University in August 2009.
1Elizabeth Johnson, “Redeeming the Name of Christ,” in Freeing Theology, ed. Catherine LaCugna, (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1993), 118.
2Karl Rahner, “Theology and Anthropology,” in Theological Investigations IX, trans. Graham Harrison (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1972), 31.
6Karl Rahner, Foundations of the Christian Faith, (New York: Crossroad, 1984), 278.
71 Cor. 15:44. For Schillebeeckx and O’Collins controversy between a more subjective or objective understanding of the resurrection, see: Brian O. McDermott, Word Become Flesh: Dimensions of Christology, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993), 113-118. For a transcendental approach, see: Rahner, 266-285. None of these approaches speak with reference to reincarnation.
8Heb. 9:27 is adduced as anti-reincarnation but from the context does not have reincarnation in view.
91 Cor. 2:12.
14Rudolf Steiner, “Autobiographical Sketch,” in The Essential Steiner: Basic Writings of Rudolf Steiner, ed. Robert A. McDermott, (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984), 18.
19See, http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/06_Global/index.asp (Accessed, July 18, 2009).
21Steiner, Basic Writings, 7.
22For an interesting discussion of CIA experiments into remote viewing, see: Rupert Sheldrake, The Sense of Being Stared at: And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind, (New York: Crown Publishers, 2003), 217-220.
23For a description of what is involved, see: Rudolf Steiner, “Meditation: The Path to Higher Knowledge,” in The Mystery of the Trinity and the Mission of the Spirit, trans. James Hindes, (Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1991), 73-92.
24Steiner, Basic Writings, 22.
25Rudolf Steiner, According to Luke: the Gospel of Compassion and Love Revealed, (Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposphic Press, 2001), 26-27. Responding to the question, “Are memories stored inside the brain?” see, Rupert Sheldrake, The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature, (Rochester VT: Park Street Press, 1988, 1995), 161-167.
26Steiner, Luke, 115-117.
27For a discussion on the relation between Matthew and Luke in creating the genealogies, see, Raymond Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, The Anchor Bible Reference Library, (New York: Bantam Dell Doubleday, 1977, 1993), 618. For a discussion of the theory that JBap and Jesus represent priestly and kingly messiahs, see: Ibid., 267.
28Marshall D. Johnson, The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 243.
29Concerning open records, see Joanne Wolf Small, The Adoption Mystique, (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006), 145-150. For a history of closed records in the United States, see: Elizabeth J. Samuels, “The Idea of Adoption: An Inquiry into the History of Adult Adoptee Access to Birth Records,” Rutgers Law Review, Winter: 2001 (53 Rutgers L. Rev. 367).
34Quoted in Johnson, 93-94.
35Quoted in Johnson, 107.
36Marcus J. Borg and N. T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, (San Francisco: Harper, 1999.), 171.
45Benedict T. Viviano, “The Gospel According to Matthew,” NJBC 42:3; also, V. R. Gold, “Jabneel” in The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962.)
46See Mt. 3:7, 5:20, 9:34, 12:2, 12:14 and others. Mt. 12:14 “the Pharisees went out and conspired against [Jesus], how to destroy him.”
47Raymond F. Collins, Introduction to the New Testament, (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1987), 181.
51Borg & Wright, 8.
53Andrew Welburn, The Beginnings of Christianity: Essene mystery, Gnostic Revelation and the Christian vision, (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1991), 71.
54Quoted in Andrew Welburn, The Beginnings of Christianity: Essene mystery, Gnostic revelation and the Christian vision, (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1991), 88.
55James Hope Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism, (London: Williams and Norgate, 1913), 285.
57O. Betz, “Zadokite Fragments,” IDoB, 932. See also, Brown, 267.
58J.J. Castelot and Aelred Cody, “Religious Institutions of Israel” in NJBC 76:16.
59John W. Miller, The Origins of the Bible: Rethinking Canon History, (New York: Paulist Press, 1994), 34-46.
601 Kings 2:35.
61For a poet’s discussion of proof of something exceptional, see: Howard Nemerov, “Exceptions and Rules,” in Figures of Thought: Speculations on the meaning of poetry and other essays, (Boston: David R. Godine, 1978), 43-48.
62R. Brown discusses later Christian speculation that the “Saušyant” would be born sometime after Zoroaster’s death but says, “there is no evidence that Christians in Matthew’s time knew of this expectation,” 168-169.
63Steiner, Luke, 95.
65Welburn, 131. See also Brown, 168-169, for a discussion of Zoroastrianism in relation to early Christianity.
69Borg & Wright, 10.
71For example, Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, (New York: Plume, 2007), 488-492.
72Steiner, Luke, 134.