Jews and Romans
- I've started reading Steiner's 'Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha', and it's fascinating, erudite and demands a lot of research to corroborate just the first lecture. In the first lecture, Steiner presents a lot of background material and he includes evidence from the Talmud that the first century Jews and Jewish Christians had good relations and understood each other well. In particular, both cultures, Steiner says, drew from a shared understanding of the extant Jewish mysteries (though in the Fifth Gospel Steiner says that Jesus found that the Bath Kol, the voice of prophecy, had gone silent). But Rome was adverse to (foreign) mystery knowledge. Steiner captures the dynamic:
"But the further back we go the more we find that at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha there existed in Judaism, in addition to the exoteric Scriptures of the Old Testament, a genuine esoteric doctrine. It is to this esoteric doctrine that must be attributed in large measure the possibility of interpreting the Old Testament in the right way.
At the time of the Mystery of Golgotha it was Romanism that was most averse to this particular aspect of the Jewish Mysteries. There has hardly ever been perhaps in the history of the world a more deep-seated antagonism than between the spirit of Rome and the Mystery tradition preserved by the initiates of Palestine. We must not, of course, regard the Mystery tradition as it existed in Palestine at that time as Christian, but only as a prophetic prefiguration of Christianity. On the other hand, however, we can only comprehend the ferment within Christianity when we see it against the historical background of the Mystery teachings of Palestine. This Mystery teaching was full of hidden knowledge about the "spiritual man" and provided ample indications of how human cognition could find a path to the spiritual world. Ramifications of this Mystery teaching were also to be found to some extent in the Greek Mysteries and to a lesser extent in the Roman Mysteries. The essence of the Palestinian Mysteries found no place in Romanism, for Rome had evolved a special form of community or social life which was only possible if the spiritual man was ignored. The key to Roman history therefore is to be found in the establishment of a community life under Rome that more or less excluded the spirit. In such a society it would be meaningless to speak of the threefold division of man into body, soul and spirit. The further back we go the more we realize that the understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha in ancient times depended upon this tripartite division of man into body, soul and spirit. Paul for his part spoke of the psychic man and the spiritual man. But this was bound to offend Roman susceptibilities and explains much that followed later."
He's critical of the Sadducees:
"At the trial before the Sanhedrin, which condemned Jesus Christ, the Sadducees played a leading part. Who were the Sadducees (those who have rightly been given the name of Sadducees) (note 8) at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha? They were a sect which wished to eradicate, to suppress everything that proceeded from the ancient Mysteries. They had a fear, a horror of every form of Mystery cult. The courts and the administration were in their hands. They were completely under the influence of the Roman State; in effect they were the servile agents of Rome. There is unmistakable evidence that they purchased preferment for large sums of money and then recouped themselves by dunning the Jewish population of Palestine. It was they who realized and thanks to their Ahrimanic, materialistic outlook they were quick to perceive this that Rome was threatened if it should come to be accepted in any way that the drama of Christ was related to the fundamental teachings of the Mysteries. They had an instinctive feeling that Christianity would give birth to something that would gradually overthrow the authority of Rome. And this accounts for those fierce wars of extermination which Rome waged against Judaism in Palestine during the first century and in later centuries. These wars of extermination were prosecuted with the avowed object of exterminating not only the Jews but all those who knew anything of the reality and traditions of the ancient Mysteries. Everything associated in any way with the Mystery teachings, especially in Palestine, was to be destroyed root and branch.
As a consequence of this suppression of the Mystery teachings the perception of the spiritual in man was lost, the path to the spiritual in man was closed. It would have been dangerous for those who later sought to abolish the spirit under the influence of Rome, of Romanized Christianity, if many of those who had been initiated in the ancient Mystery schools of Palestine had still survived, if those who still preserved a memory of the spirit and could still bear witness to the fact that man consisted of body, soul and spirit. The policy of Romanism was to establish a social order in which the spirit had no place, to encourage an evolutionary trend that would exclude all spiritual impulses. This could not have been realized if too many people had known the interpretation of the Mystery of Golgotha that was adumbrated in the Mysteries. It was instinctively felt that nothing of a spiritual nature could emerge from the Roman State. From the union of the Church and the Roman State was born jurisprudence. In this the spirit had no part. It is important to bear this in mind."
On the Sadducees, Wiki says:
The Sadducees oversaw many formal affairs of the state. Members of the Sadducees:
"Administered the state domestically
Represented the state internationally
Participated in the Sanhedrin, and often encountered the Pharisees there.
Collected taxes. These also came in the form of international tribute from Jews in the Diaspora.
Equipped and led the army
Regulated relations with the Romans
Mediated domestic grievances.
According to Josephus, the Sadducees believed that:
▪ There is no fate
▪ God does not commit evil
▪ man has free will; "man has the free choice of good or evil"
▪ the soul is not immortal; there is no afterlife, and
▪ there are no rewards or penalties after death
The Sadducees rejected the belief in Resurrection of the Dead, which was a central tenet believed by Pharisees and by Early Christians. This often provoked hostilities. Furthermore, the Sadducees rejected the Oral Law as proposed by the Pharisees. Rather, they saw the Torah as the sole source of divine authority."