by John-Peter Gernaat
This is not a full summary but rather a focus on the essence of the beginning of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament was written over a period of about a thousand years. It represents a particular story of humanity and of one group of people who carry a thread of human development leading up to a central point in human history. It is not the only story of humanity and most cultures have a story of their development. The Old Testament is the story of the Jewish people who had a particular mission to prepare for the incarnation of the Christ. It, therefore, is for us the story that precedes the Gospel of the New Testament.
The New Testament was written is a relatively short period of time. The books that make up the New Testament were written over a period of 40 to 50 years. The New Testament is also, in a certain sense, the story on one biography and the consequences of that biography. It Is worth remembering that Gospel means Good News and that therefore each book of the New Testament relates to the Good News and can correctly be referred to as Gospel.
The first consideration that arises for anyone who has an understanding of Anthroposophy, is what is the beginning that Genesis refers to? Through Anthroposophy we have come to understand that there were great cycles of time through which we, as human beings, have evolved. The habitation of human beings has likewise evolved. Each of these cycles of time had a beginning and an end. At the end a seed remained of the development that had occurred that could form the beginning of the next cycle of time. There were cycles of time or creative processes even before these, as some of the hierarchies of the spiritual worlds had already reached their full development by the start of the cycles related to our development.
The previous great cycles of time were:
These four cycles of time also leave us with the four elements as understood by the Ancient Greeks: fire, air, water and earth.
Genesis is the beginning of the Earth cycle of time. Therefore it tells the story of a beginning, one of many beginnings.
The author of the book of Genesis is not receiving a dictation from the spiritual worlds, but he was inspired by a true picture for which he must carefully select words that can best inspire us to see this true picture as well. It is not a scientific account of the making of the earth, but it is a true picture that we can come to understand.
So how can one understand the first words of Genesis: Bereshit bara Elohim?
Bereshit can be directly translated as ‘in beginning’ but it also carries the implied meaning that it is in the beginning of something. However, reshit also translates as ‘the first vibration of’ or ‘first tremor of’. This tells us that the process was not yet an act, but rather a conceiving of.
Bara translates as ‘created or creating’ and is in the masculine singular.
Elohim is plural. El is the name of the singular great god of the Canaanite peoples of the Promised Land into which the Israelites were brought by Joshua after Moses’ death. ‘O’ is a sound quality for form, while ‘him’ means strength. The Elohim are ‘form beings of God’ – beings of formative forces out of the strength of God.
Form only comes into being in the Earth cycle of time. This gives us a clear indication of which beginning is referred to.
When the next words of Genesis are also taken into consideration: “the heavens and the earth”; this phrase is a merism (two contrasting parts of a whole that when referred to together, linked by ‘and’, represent the whole) that means the entire cosmos.
The translation that Michaël gives to this first sentence of Genesis is: “In the first tremor of the outer lofty heights of the sky above and the firm inner depths of the earth below the Elohim creatively conceived a formative process”. As Christians, we can go so far as to say that this formative process was to give form to a being in which the Christ could be contained. The Old Testament is the story of how this form becomes possible.
This is not a summary of the second session. It looks at two segments that have a relation to the report of the first session.
Deuteronomy 6 contains the greatest commandment for the Jewish folk: “Hear of Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one”. The word Adonai is used because the name of God may not be used. The name of God is a four-consonant sound: YHWH. The correct translation of the commandment given in Deuteronomy is: “YHWH is our Elohim and YHWH alone”. We would say: Yahweh is our Elohim and Yahweh alone. Yahweh takes the creative conceptualisation of the Elohim described in Genesis 1 and is the one Elohim who makes the earth as a reality for this cycle of time.
In Genesis 2 we read “The Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep”. When we looked at the root of the Hebrew words this sentence actually reads: “The Elohim turned to face the (moving) air, the raying warmth, the (deep) waters.” In other words, the Elohim turned to the elements that had been a reality in the previous cycles of time and, as the Beings of Form, added the element of form or ‘earth’ to create the earth in this cycle of time.
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