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The Religions of the World
Christianity (violet), Islam (green), Buddhism (yellow), Judaism (blue), Hinduism (orange)

Christianity (from GreekΧριστιανισμός Christianismós) is the largest religion on Earth, with over 2.2 billion adherents (2010)[1], ahead of Islam with about 1.3 billion[2] and Hinduism with about 1 billion[3]. Christianity spread to all continents through missionary work or Christianisation, which was partly peaceful, but also partly violent.

„But when religion will be absorbed in knowledge, when man will no longer be given religion according to the old form, that he will only be pointed by faith to the wisdom that guides evolution, will Christianity also be no more? No other religion will be that is built on mere faith. Christianity will remain, for Christianity may have been religion in its beginning, but Christianity is greater than all religion! That is the Rosicrucian wisdom. More comprehensive was the religious principle of Christianity in its beginning than the religious principle of all other religions. But Christianity is still greater than the religious principle itself. When the shells of faith will fall away, it will be a form of wisdom. It can completely cast off the shells of faith and become a wisdom religion, and spiritual science will help to prepare people for this. People will be able to live without the old forms of religion and faith, but they will not be able to live without Christianity; for Christianity is greater than all religion. Christianity is there to burst all forms of religion, and that which fills men as Christianity will still be when human souls have outgrown all mere religious life.“ (Lit.:GA 102, p. 115f)

„After Christianity - this is quite clear to one who knows the foundation of Christianity - a new religion can no longer be founded. One would understand Christianity incorrectly if one believed that a new religion could be founded.“ (Lit.:GA 211, p. 139)

„Christianity began as a religion, but it is greater than all religions. What Christianity gives will be carried into all times of the future and will still be one of the most important impulses of humanity when there will be no more religion. Even when people have overcome religious life, Christianity will remain. That it was first religion is connected with the development of humanity; but Christianity as a conception of the world is greater than all religions.“ (Lit.:GA 102, p. 161)

Christianity and Raphael's School of Athens

„Before Raphael's gaze there may have stood what is written in the Acts of the Apostles: 'As one goes among the Athenians and says - even the gesture is represented there - 'You people of Athens, you have offered sacrifices to the gods in outward signs.' But there is a knowledge of that God who lives and weaves in all life. This is the Christ who passed through death and rose again, and who thereby gave people the impulse to resurrection. - Some did not listen and others found it strange. In Raphael's mind, this became the picture that we find today in the Vatican, which bears the incorrect name "The School of Athens". In reality, it shows the figure of Paul teaching the Athenians about the basic nature of Christianity. Raphael has created something that appears to be a heraldry of Christianity above the denominations. Little has been understood so far, the deep meaning of this picture has not yet dawned on people.“ (Lit.:GA 143, p. 178)

„Over the course of time, people have painted all kinds of things over this picture, which was often - but only later - called the "School of Athens", and so one man standing in the middle has "Etica" painted on the book, the other "Timeo", all this was painted over it later. The picture has been ruined many times over, and of course today in Rome you can no longer get a proper idea of the picture as it originally was. In Raphael's time it was never called 'The School of Athens', it came later; but then people made theories about it.“ (Lit.:GA 292, p. 266)

„If we look at one picture, the so-called "School of Athens" - it is not my opinion that this designation is justified, but it is the easiest way to communicate - if we let this picture work on us, we see, perhaps without it having lived fully in Raphael's consciousness, that it represents what the human soul can recognise when it directs its gaze towards the external sensual reality and makes use of the intellect, which is bound to the human brain, the human personality. In all its details this comes to us in a wonderful way. If we turn our gaze to the right-hand group of the picture, we see how all kinds of things are astronomically determined, calculated, and then we feel: Not only ordinary things are being calculated, but great events in world history are being deduced from the movement of the stars; science in the cosmic sense is being unfolded. And if we then turn our gaze to the left and see from the expressions that connect the right with the left, how on the left is written down what is read from the constellations on the right and how, if we could really get the books before our eyes, world secrets are written on the left that are ascertained by sensuous observation, then we see: Raphael need not have been aware of this, but therein lay the tradition of the time, how deeply into it was secreted that which constitutes the essence of [rising Christianity vis-à-vis Greek]. And whether we place ourselves on the standpoint of those who see Plato and Aristotle in the central figure, or that we are dealing with an evangelist on the left: in both cases what has now been set apart is quite understandable.“ (Lit.: Rudolf Steiner: Raphael in the Light of Spiritual Science, Public Lecture. Munich, 11 March 1913, Beiträge (Contributions) 82, S. 7)

So Paul is the one on the left in the middle in the red robe, usually taken to be Plato (because of the Timaeus in his hand), with the features of Leonardo da Vinci).


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References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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