Kees Zoeteman

In the second half of 2018, Judith von Halle’s small book on Die Apokalypse des Johannes, Bindeglied zwischen judischer Mystik und christlich-anthroposophischer Geisteswisschenschaft (The Apocalypse of John, Binding link between Judaic Mysticism and Christian-Anthroposophical Spiritual Science), was published. It concerns two lectures which she gave in Berlin on 18 and 25 October 2003 and which are now published by Verlag fur Anthroposophie in Dornach, Switzerland (ISBN 978-3-03769-056-7). The booklet is, despite it’s only 75 pages of text, rich in information and appears to have been specially published for participants in later seminars in 2014 and 2016 by Judith von Halle on the Apocalypse, which included more than 30 lectures. Thus, the reader will have a lot to gain if these lectures will hopefully also be published in a book someday.

First lecture on the initiation through the Christ

In the first lecture she discusses the old Jewish context of the Apocalypse, which the reader needs to understand in order to gain some access to this book. The spiritual initiation was different in the pre-Christian mysteries than it was after the coming of the Christ. Before the coming of the Christ, the disciple had to surrender completely to the guidance of his teacher during a three-and-a-half day’s sleep of initiation, which resembled death. Today, man consciously experiences the Christian initiation. The first initiations through Christ concern Lazarus-John and Paul. Von Halle describes, as she did in earlier books such as Vom Mysterium des Lazarus und der drei Johannes (2009), the spiritual background of the writer of the Apocalypse.  She sees in him the young apostle John, merging with Lazarus and the previously deceased John the Baptist, resulting  in the young man whom Jesus loved. The Apocalypse is a proclamation of the future, which is still current after two thousand years and still points to the future today. It is an open book of initiation. Von Halle points out that writing and making public the Apocalypse at that time was seen as a betrayal of the mystery, which had to be followed which the death penalty. Just as Jesus had to be crucified, because he had raised Lazarus before the eyes of the people from the sleep of initiation. In esoteric Judaism, it is central that man is the bearer of the blood of his ancestors. This is also reflected in the role of a priest who must have come from the Cohen family. In Christianity it is no longer the role of being blood bearer of the ancestors that is central, but the role of individual bearer of love, of brotherly love that is completely selfless. This is symbolized by the white robe that appears at the opening of the fifth seal and that appeals to us in this day and age because we can now realize our aptitude for this.

Second lecture on Hebrew mysteries

In the second lecture she further explores the assignment to penetrate the Self, the self-consciousness, with spirituality. This requires an appeal to our willpower. John uses many concepts borrowed from the ancient Hebrew mysteries, which have been preserved to this day in ultra-orthodox Judaism. Von Halle discusses the seven communities and the seven seals, which she explains mainly on the basis of Rudolf Steiner’s interpretations, and then dwells on the Lamb, which occupies an important place in Judaism at the Feast of Passover, as well as on the symbols of the sealed book and the white robe. The symbol of the sealed book is connected with the Jewish feast of Yom Kippur. After New Year’s Day, Rosch ha Schana, there is a ten-day period of reflection during which old sins and debts can be settled by repentance. The breaking of the seals caused by the repentance of sinful deeds then takes place at Yom Kippur, where all sins against God are forgiven by repentance, and where the rabbi and the cantor wear a white robe as a sign of purifiation. The blood of the Lamb has a special meaning for the Jewish people because during the exile in Egypt it was placed above the doorpost, after which the angel of death passed by their houses. This became the sign of the exodus from Egypt of the Jewish people and the sign of being the chosen people of God. The Jewish temple also plays a central role in the Apocalypse. Furthermore, the numerical symbolism used is the same as in the ancient Hebrew rites and symbols. Von Halle specifically addresses the number 144 000. She ends with the promises of the new Jerusalem.

In summary, both lectures provide a number of important elements for the understanding of the Apocalypse. Of course, it had to remain fragmentary. As she herself says: “One’s life is not sufficient to understand all mysteries of the evolution of the world which are touched upon in the Apocalypse” (p.11).