the timing is off
- Some notes toward a critical review of Robert
Powell's *Chronicle of the Living Christ*
History: The Anthroposophic Press publishes many
books by Robert Powell, including his *Chronicle
of the Living Christ*. I haven't read his other
books, but apparently this one is somewhat of his
*magnum opus*. From the fact that these books are
published by the Anthroposophical Press, one might
get the impression that Powell's work is
Anthroposophical and is in harmony with Steiner's
teachings. But there is good reason to believe
that this would be an erroneous impression, as I
will try to show here by a partial review of this
Powell professes to be making a further
development of "astrosophy" -- the new
astrological wisdom inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner
and expanded by Elisabeth Vreede and Willi Sucher.
I don't claim to be much of an astrosopher, but I
will rely mainly on common sense and simple
arithmetic rather than astrological calculations,
with some references to the work of Willi Sucher
and, of course, Rudolf Steiner.
Some months ago I got into a cyber-discussion with
someone who knows Powell and passed along some of
my critical comments to him. Powell answered back
with his rejoinders, sticking to his position, and
his comments were passed along to me. In the text
below I will indicate Powell's comments and my
replies to them.
I don't have *Chronicle* in hand, and my own notes
are very disorganized, but I'll try to hit the
main points. Hopefully, these notes here will
make some sense even for those who haven't read
Powell's book or studied astrosophy.
-- Powell acknowledges Steiner and Willi Sucher as
his teachers, but Powell's chronology is
impossible to reconcile with either Steiner's or
Sucher's. Powell agrees on the dates of the
Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and
Pentecost -- but not much else in the life of
Jesus. He relies mostly on AC Emmerich, and
apparently that's how he gets into trouble. He
makes much of the fact that ACE got right the
weekdays of the Hebrew dates, but naming the
weekdays correctly does not prove at all that what
one says happened on those days really happened.
If I said that November 22, 1963 fell on Friday,
this would not prove that I would be correct in
saying that Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone killed
JFK. Powell also makes it seem that Steiner
endorsed the accuracy of ACE's visions, but if one
reads Steiner's words exactly (as Powell quotes
them), one can see that he stopped far short of
endorsing everything that she said.
Willi Sucher (in *Cosmic Christianity*) follows
the Gospels closely and comes up with a chronology
that accords with Steiner's statements, and with
which he also makes some far-reaching
astrosophical calculations. Emil Bock (*The Three
Years*) and Ormond Edwards (*The Time of Christ*)
also follow the Gospels and come up with
chronologies that essentially agree (with some
small discrepancies). On the one side we have the
Gospels, tradition, Steiner, Bock, Sucher, and
Edwards -- and on the other we have Powell and
Emmerich. But Powell tries to skate around his
differences with Steiner, and I don't recall that
he even acknowledges his differences with the
(Powell dates the birth of the Solomon [Matthew]
Jesus at March 5, 6 BC; the birth of the Nathan
[Luke] Jesus at December 6/7, 2 BC; and the
Baptism at September 23, 29 AD -- making the life
of the Luke Jesus very nearly 33 1/3 years and the
Incarnation nearly 3 1/2 years. Sucher, et al.
put the Matthew Nativity at January 6, 1 BC; the
Luke Nativity at December 25, 1 BC; and the
Baptism at January 6, 31 AD -- making the life of
the Luke Jesus to be about 32 1/4 years and the
Incarnation approximately 2 1/4 years.)
-- For one of the specifics: Powell dates the
Feeding of the 5000 at January 29, 31 AD. But
*John* 6;4 rather clearly indicates that this
Feeding happened when the Passover "was nigh". We
know that Passover comes only in the early Spring.
Obviously, for Powell to be right *John* must be
Powell's rejoinder: The Passover took place
either on March 27 or March 28 in the year 31 AD,
so the Feeding of the 5000 took place two months
prior to this. Thus, the Feast of the Passover
"was nigh" at the time of the Feeding of the 5000.
But: Two months doesn't seem very "nigh" to me.
We need to compare what John meant by "at hand" in
6;4 with what he meant by that term elsewhere, and
with the standard New Testament Greek meaning.
I searched around a little, and came to the "Blue
Letter Bible" website; it's very handy for this
kind of research. The Greek word translated as
*at hand* is *eggys*. (The "Strong's Number" is
*1451*.) It has a spatial, a religious, and a
1) near, of place and positiona) nearb) those who
are near access to God
1) Jews, as opposed to those who are alien from
God and his blessings
2) The Rabbis used the term "to make nigh" as
equivalent to "to make a proselyte"
2) of time
a) of times imminent and soon to come pass
The question is: How "imminent and soon"? John
uses this word in the temporal sense in several
Jhn 2:13 And 2532 the Jews 2453' passover 3957
was 2258 at hand 1451, and 2532 Jesus 2424 went up
305 to 1519 Jerusalem 2414,
Jhn 6:4 And 1161 the passover 3957, a feast 1859
of the Jews 2453, was 2258 nigh 1451.
Jhn 7:2 Now 1161 the Jews 2453' feast 1859 of
tabernacles 4634 was 2258 at hand 1451.
Jhn 11:55 And 1161 the Jews 2453' passover 3957
was 2258 nigh at hand 1451: and 2532 many 4183
went 305 out of 1537 the country 5561 up 1519 to
Jerusalem 2414 before 4253 the passover 3957, to
2443 purify 48 themselves 1438.
In Chpt. 2, as the quote shows, Jesus went *when*
the Passover was "eggys". In Chpt. 6 the Feeding
of the 5000 was about to take place. In Chpt. 7
Jesus' brothers were trying to get him to go to
the feast *when* it was "eggys". In Chpt. 11 the
Jews were going to the Passover feast *when* it
It does seem that John used *eggys* to mean *It's
time to get on the road and go, if you want to get
there*. In this meaning, two months is obviously
more than "eggys", even when considering
travelling from Galilee to Jerusalem on foot. --
No; Powell is stretching *nigh* much too far, just
to make it fit his chronology.
(And Sucher gives some astroposophical
considerations about the movement of Mercury,
consistent with the dating of the Feeding of the
5000 around Passover of 32 AD.)
-- For another example: RS (*The Fifth Gospel*)
says that at the time of the Baptism the Solomon
Mary was "between her 45th and 46th year". If, as
Powell indicates, the Luke Jesus was around 29.8
years old and the Solomon Jesus was born about 4.5
years earlier (34.3 years before the Baptism),
then the Solomon Mary would have had to have been
around 10.2 (9.7 to 10.7) years old at the birth
of the Solomon Jesus -- not very likely, but
demanded by Powell's chronology if RS was right.
Powell's rejoinder refers to the discussion of
this in the *Chronicle*, p. 87. The reasoning
here, leading to the conclusion that the Solomon
Mary was 9 or 10 years old at the birth of the
Solomon Jesus is faulty. As shown in the
Chronicle, she was 14 1/2 years old when the
Solomon Jesus was born.
But: I don't have the book in hand. And I don't
see what is supposed to be this unspecified
"faulty" reasoning. Powell dates the birth of the
Solomon Jesus at March 5, 6 BC. He dates the
Baptism at September 23, 29 AD. 28.72 (appx) plus
5.83 (appx) equals 34.55 (putative years from the
birth of the Solomon Jesus until the Baptism). 45
minus 34.55 equals 10.45 (years of the approximate
age of the Solomon Mary at that birth, give or
take half a year, assuming Steiner's statement of
her age). But taking January 6, 1 BC as the birth
of the Solomon Jesus (Three Kings Day) and January
6, 31 AD as the Baptism (Sucher, Edwards, etc.) as
the Baptism, that gives a difference of exactly 31
years, making the Solomon Mary around 14 years old
at that birth; a far more plausible age.
-- And another: Following the Gospel, Bock allows
three Springtimes between the Baptism and the
Crucifixion, inclusive. But according to Powell's
dating, there must have been four.
Powell counters that Biblical scholars are divided
as to whether there were three or four Passovers
during Christ's Ministry. Bock opted for three.
However, his is only one perspective. Other
Biblical scholars argue that there must have been
four Passovers (including a "silent Passover" not
mentioned in the Gospels). The Chronicle shows
that these scholars are right.
But: If you look around enough, you can always
find scholars who will disagree on almost
anything. I would assume that Bock "opted" for
three because only three are listed in the
Gospels, and because three fits with the other
correspondences that are required. And three fits
very well with the other dates demanded by the
Gospels, known history, Steiner, and the
astrosophy of Sucher. The *Chronicle* shows, at
most, that four accords with AC Emmerich and
Powell's own astrosophy.
-- And there is the problem of Powell's
abandonment of the traditional dates for Christmas
and Epiphany in the life of Jesus. It would seem
to me that the events in the life of Jesus should
have been in harmony with the yearly rhythm of the
Earth. If Powell is right, then what happens to
the significance of the 12 Holy Nights?
Powell replies that one has to distinguish between
the yearly rhythm of the Earth and the sidereal
rhythm of the stars. The Chronicle is concerned
with the latter â€" that is, with determining the
cosmic stellar configurations at events in the
life of Christ. This in no way undermines the
celebration of the traditional Christian
festivals, which have a symbolic significance in
relation to the Earth's yearly cycle. All of this
is discussed at length in the Chronicle.
But: And the "rhythms of the stars" according to
Sucher accord well with the traditional dates for
the Nativity, Epiphany, and the Three Kings Day --
without abandoning the harmony of those
traditional dates with the Earthly rhythm -- and
without introducing the host of other difficulties
that Powell's chronology does. And plainly,
Powell's dating really does undermine the
traditional Christian festivals. If Jesus were
not born on December 25, then the Christmas
festival is misplaced. If the Baptism were not on
January 6, then the Epiphany festival is
In practically all of Steiner's discussions of
Christmas and Epiphany it is implicit, and
sometimes explicit, that the Baptism was on
January 6 and the birth of the Luke Jesus on
December 25. If Powell is correct in his dating
of these events, isn't it strange that RS in all
his teachings never mentioned that the traditional
dates of these festivals are completely wrong?
For instance, in the lecture "The Birth of the
Sun-Spirit as the Spirit of the Earth" (Hanover,
26th December, 1911) RS explains how the early
Christian celebration of the Birth on Jan. 6 was
correct for the Cosmic Christ, but changed through
a Providential confusion to the Christmas date of
the birth of the innocent soul of the Luke Jesus.
(RS also implies that the Baptism happened on
January 6, for he says:
("When understanding was lost of what had streamed
from cosmic worlds in the event which would
rightly have been celebrated on the 6th of January
. . . ."
(In other words, RS was saying that the Christ
Spirit was "born" [as it were; in another sense,
the right word is *begotten*, as Paul has it]
during the Baptism which happened on January 6.
Of course, this contradicts Powell's chronology.)
In *Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts* A CHRISTMAS
STUDY: THE MYSTERY OF THE LOGOS, RS says
explicitly that "the Jesus child . . . appears on
Earth during the cosmic Initiation-Night . . . .
In *The Cycle of the Year*, Lecture
331p01.hml>RS explains at length why Jesus had to
be born at Christmas. (Incidentally, he also
explains the earthly-breathing significance of St.
John's Day being on June 24. He doesn't say
explicitly that the Baptist was in fact born on
this day, but it seems to be implicit. And that
approximate date is demanded by the Gospel
account. It would seem that RS should have
mentioned that the Baptist wasn't born then, if in
fact he had been born at some other time, as
Powell's chronology says.) But just a snip about
from this lecture about the timing of Christmas:
"At the end of December the Earth has fully in-
breathed and is holding in herself the forces of
which I just spoke. She has entirely sucked in her
soul element, for the forces of which I have
spoken are the soul element of the Earth. She has
drawn it completely in, just as a man who has
inhaled holds the air entirely in himself. This is
the time at which with good reason the birth of
Jesus has been set, because Jesus is thus born out
of an Earth force which contains the entire soul
element of the Earth within it."
-- Those are just a few citations out of I-don't-
know however many possible. Powell's chronology
makes nonsense of Steiner's teaching on Christmas,
Epiphany, and the 13 Holy Days, as it does of so
much of Steiner's teaching. There really is no
way to reconcile the teachings of Powell and
Steiner; at least one of them must be very wrong.
-- And so on. Obviously, there are huge problems
with Powell's chronology; and I've hardly
scratched the surface.
I'd suggest that anyone interested might want to
read at least Sucher's *Cosmic Christianity*. One
could see at least how his astrosophical
considerations are in harmony with the traditional
dating of the life of Jesus, and also with
Steiner's of the two Jesus boys. And Bock's *The
Three Years* shows much about that dating that is
closely aligned with the Gospels.
(And since Powell seems to have a high opinion of
Tomberg [Powell apparently considers Tomberg to be
the Maitreya, though he doesn't discuss this
question in *Chronicle*], one might want to read
Prokofieff's two books on Tomberg . . . and for
that matter, Irina Gordienko's book on
-- About the 33 1/3 year rhythm:
According to Steiner, Sucher, etc., the life of
(the Luke) Jesus was not 33 1/3 years exactly.
But still, the physical life of Jesus was 33 years
*qualitatively* in quantity, as it were. The
32.28 years took place *in* 33 years, just as the
2 1/4 years of the Incarnation took place *in* 3
years. This is how time was often meant in the
Bible; as when Jesus said, "Destroy this temple,
and in three days I will raise it up." The
roughly 39 hours from the death on the cross until
the Resurrection were spread over three
consecutive days, so the Temple was rebuilt in
three days, qualitatively. -- Emil Bock discusses
this question; as does Sucher, I think.
Powell mentions Steiner's "Et Incarnatus Est"
lecture, and tries to make it support the
*Chronicle*. I have only a snip from this
lecture, so I don't know exactly all that RS said
about this (or more so, exactly what he meant;
considering the standard *caveat* about the
lecture transcripts), but he did speak loosely,
approximately sometimes, as he spoke of "33
years" when he meant *one third of a century*.
In that snip RS discusses the "Christian Year".
(text found online, taken from: 23 Dec. 1917, in:
"Et Incarnatus Est... The Time-cycle in Historic
Events", pp.1-3, unpubl. Typescript courtesy RSL)
Here RS says:
". . . . the period between Christmas and Easter
is seen as a picture of the 33 years of Christ's
life on Earth. . . . The time interval between
Christmas and Easter is to be understood as
consisting of 33 years. This is the key. What does
this mean? That the Christmas festival celebrated
this year belongs to the Easter festival that
follows 33 years later, while the Easter festival
we celebrate this year belongs to the Christmas of
Since this lecture was given in 1917, and the
interval between Christmas 1884 and Easter 1917 is
32 1/4 years, the implication is that *the 33
years of Christ's life on Earth* means *33* in the
qualitative sense, that the life of the Luke Jesus
body was 32 1/4 years from birth. Thus, RS
contradicts Powell on this point and supports
Bock, Sucher, et al.
-- Another point: Abandoning Powell's chronology
does not imply the abandonment of the significance
of the Great Conjunction of 7-6 BC. Sucher
discusses this event in connection with the
"spiritual nativity" of Jesus and the healing of
the man who had been sick for 38 years (*John* 5).
Steiner discusses "spiritual nativity" in lecture
4 of *Human and Cosmic Thought*:
". . . . these constellations are of much greater
importance in the life of the person than the
constellations of the external horoscope, and do
not necessarily coincide with the 'nativity' - the
external horoscope. For the enhanced influence
which is exerted on the soul by this standing of
Mysticism in the sign of Idealism waits for the
propitious moment when it can lay hold of the soul
most fruitfully. Such influences need not assert
themselves just at the time of birth; they can do
so before birth, or after it. In short, they await
the point of time when these predispositions can
best be built into the human organism, according
to its inner configuration. Hence the ordinary
astrological 'nativity' does not come into account
Sucher tells how he calculates this "spiritual
nativity", and he comes to 7 or 6 BC for the Luke
Jesus. (His discussion isn't very precise, by
Powell's standards.) He goes on to connect this
with the 38 years (qualitatively) that elapsed
until the healing of the man who had been sick for
38 years -- two Moon node cycles, qualitatively.
-- I noticed another specific discrepancy with the
Gospel: Powell puts the raising of Lazarus at
July 26, 32 AD. But according to *John* (10-11)
this raising came between the Feast of the
Dedication (winter; late Nov. to Dec. in different
years) and the final Passover (AD 33). So the
most natural reading is to date this raising in
the Winter of 32-33 AD, as do Edwards et al. But
Powell dates it in the preceding Summer. He would
have to hold that *John* 10 refers to the
preceding Winter, and this raises the host of
difficulties that come with stretching the
Incarnation over another year. But there is no
need to conjure up all those difficulties, if one
just reads *John* in the natural way.
-- Steiner said that the Solomon Jesus was born "a
period of months" before the Nathan Jesus and died
soon after his 12th year. This is reinforced by
his statement about the age of the Solomon Mary.
Powell puts the birth of the Solomon Jesus almost
five years before the date required by Steiner's
statements, and he tries to get around the
discrepancies. But there is no way to get around
them; he must say that Steiner was wrong, and
repeatedly wrong on the same point. As Steiner
must have been wrong about the dates of the first
Christmas and Epiphany. Yet, he cites Steiner as
his teacher and tries (strains) to enlist him to
vouch for the accuracy of AC Emmerich's visions. -
- No, it doesn't work; Powell and Steiner can't be
reconciled. At least one of them must be very
-- For other critiques of Powell's work, I know of
An *Info3* article points out difficulties in
It's in German, but with Freetranslation.com or
Babelfish one can make sense enough out of it.
(search for thread: "2nd Coming"; 1999-20-11) one
can find a discussion of the German edition of the
book in which (apparently) Powell makes his
calculations of the 2nd Coming.
Again, there's Proky's first *Tomberg* book; it
contains a brief critique of RP's support of
Tomberg, which apparently includes the
identification of Tomberg with the Maitreya
-- Speculative addendum: Considering the 33 1/3
year period more exactly --
If we abandon Powell's chronology (which has the
life of Jesus fit this time period almost exactly)
and stick to Jan. 6 and Dec. 25, 1 BC as the
birthdays of the Solomon and Nathan boys (as
Sucher et al. have it), then what happens to the
33 1/3 year period in the life of Jesus?
Ponder: Ascension was May 14, 33 AD. That's 39
days after Resurrection Day. Add 39 days to Dec.
6-7, 1 BC, and we come to Jan. 14-5, 1 BC. [31-
6=25; 39-25=14] Count back another 1 1/2 days
from Ascension, and we come to Jan. 13, 1BC.
That's 7 days after the birth of the Solomon
Jesus, i.e. on the 8th day. That's the day of the
Mosaic circumcision, isn't it? So there are (very
nearly) 33 1/3 years from the circumcision of the
Solomon Jesus until the Ascension.
There is undoubtedly an esoteric meaning to the
Mosaic rite of circumcision. It has something to
do with the curtailing of sexuality. Sexuality
and death are inextricably linked together. The
Resurrection redeemed the Phantom body, making it
a template of a deathless physical body; hence the
deathless form-body also overcomes sexuality.
Might we also assume that the immortality of the
form-body came about because it was joined to the
life-body? RS sometimes when discussing the
Resurrection Body did not clearly distinguish
between the immortal etheric body and the form
body of Jesus. The Ascension somehow joined the
resurrection body to the etheric body of the Earth
We might hypothesize that the circumcision of the
Solomon Jesus was somehow transferred, in effect,
to the life body and form body of the Luke Jesus.
The Zarathustra Ego also brought his memories into
the sheaths of the Luke Jesus, and memories are
carried in the etheric body. These memories of
the Solomon Jesus worked into the sheaths of the
Luke Jesus for a little more that one Moon node
Somehow, the curtailment of sexuality, and hence
of death-forces, in the Solomon Jesus must (?)
have carried some effect into the overcoming of
death in the resurrection body of Christ Jesus,
and this redeemed Phantom Body achieved some kind
of cosmic culmination at the Ascension, very
nearly 33 1/3 years after the circumcision of the
I get the feeling that there is a profound Mystery
hidden here, and I can only grope at it in the
dark. But all these considerations do indicate
that the 33 1/3 year cycle does have significance
when we postulate the correctness of the
chronology of Bock, Sucher, etc.
- Thanks Steve, for taking a look at it.
It's amazing my sense of relief when I see/hear Spiritual Science being
expressed with feeling and understanding.
I become dumbfounded when it doesn't run this course. That's probably
what motivates me to insist so intensely - to get myself out of a
'dumbfounded' bind and up to where pristine living thoughts flow -
within the creation of another.
--- In email@example.com, "Stephen Hale" <sardisian01@...>
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "carol" organicethics@ wrote:
> > In the second instance, I retained from reading this lecture what I
> > judged to have been a great injustice done to Bradford, by you Steve
> > in that your underlying soul configuration implicating Romanism andclever
> > invigorated Greece, was not well directed.
> > Carol.
> I thought about going to Canada back in 1970 when my name came up in
> the draft, but decided against it, and take my lumps. Well, I was
> found to be 4-F for flat feet, which seemed to displease my dad
> greatly; apparently, he either wanted me to get killed fighting the
> Viet Cong, or become a man and take some responsibility. So, I opted
> for the Air Force instead, which doesn't care about feet.
> And based on the above comments concerning injustice, I will always
> implicate Romanism over an invigorated Greece. Remember, both
> platonism and aristotelianism developed in that great age of deductive
> reasoning, where something was drawn down out of nothing. The
> distinctive character of the Roman age is to apply *that* something in
> an inductive or additive process, which makes for a mechanistic-
> materialistic world-view of three-dimensional proportions.
> So, I doubt that I would ever extol a superiority of romanistic
> proportioning over the Greek Ideal; the reason being that idealism is
> closer to underlying causality, while roman empiricism has had the
> effect of burying causes in effective representation.
> And that is why cultivating an intelligence of the miraculous through
> spiritual science has the reward of knocking again at the door of the
> originating ideas first brought down by the Greeks. But also allows
> the horizontal plane to remain as is, with head over heart.
> No, I am no fan of American imperialism, which dictated the last one
> hundred years of Soradt's second incarnation (1898-1998) through
> and insidious territorial expansions. If anything, middle America
> (USA) is the New Rome. Consider that!