The Incredible Births of Jesus

The Incredible Births of Jesus

By Edward Reaugh Smith
Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1998, Paperback, 109 pages.

The gospel accounts of the life of Jesus are, as is well known, inconsistent with each other and in some respects contradictory. A single example, one of many, will illustrate. Matthew and Luke give different genealogies for Jesus. Both trace the descent of Jesus from David (important for establishing his claim to Messiahship), but do so by quite different lineages. Matthew (1.6) reports that Jesus descended from David's son Solomon, whereas Luke (3.31) reports a descent from David's son Nathan.

Annie Besant discovered such contradictions when she tried to make a harmony of the gospels, and that discovery broke her faith in a simple, pious acceptance of literal Christianity and started her on the road to Theosophy. Today the contradictions are a problem mainly for fundamentalist believers in the literal truth of scripture. Scholars generally regard the gospels as attempts to set forth certain ideas through whatever history, myths, legends, or traditional topoi best served the purpose. Theosophists tend to regard them as symbolical or metaphorical expressions of spiritual realities.

The German esotericist, quondam Theosophist, and founder of Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner, had his own ideas about the subject, which are the basis for The Incredible Births of Jesus. Briefly, "the divine spiritual intuition of Rudolf Steiner" (66) was that there were really two persons named "Jesus." One, the descendant of Solomon, who was a reincarnation of "the most advanced Ego humanity has produced, that of the ancient Zarathustra" (67), was born in Bethlehem but was taken to Nazareth as a youngster. The other, the descendant of Nathan, was born in Nazareth He had no permanent Ego, but was the recipient of the astral body of the Buddha.

When the Nathan Jesus was twelve years old, his parents presented him at the Temple, and at that time the Zarathustra Ego left the body of the Solomon Jesus (who then died) and entered the body of the Nathan Jesus. The father of the Solomon Jesus also died, as did the mother of the Nathan Jesus. The surviving parents married each other, and thenceforth there was one family and one Jesus. The story is much more complex than that, those being only the bare bones of the tale.

What is perhaps most interesting about this Anthroposophical interpretation is that it accepts as literal truth the gospel accounts of the nativity and tries to make sense out of their contradictions. That aim accords with the aspirations of the most literalist of Christian fundamentalists. Few of the latter, however, are likely to find much satisfaction in this effort to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable.


March/April 2001