Nathan Jesus

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Guido Reni: The Adoration of the Shepherds ;c. 1640, National Gallery (London)

Nathan Jesus or Nathanian Jesus is the name given in anthroposophy to the Jesus boy reported in the Gospel of Luke. Rudolf Steiner's spiritual-scientific research led him to the view that not only one, but two Jesus boys were born at the turn of the time. In fact, on closer examination, the Gospels also point in this direction. The birth narrative in Luke's Gospel differs in essential points from that in Matthew's Gospel; in particular, the two Gospels also give clearly different lines of descent. The Jesus boy described in Luke's Gospel comes from the priestly Nathanian line of the house of David, which - unlike in the case of the Solomon Jesus - is traced back to Adam - and "he was of God". What both Jesus boys have in common is that their parents are called Joseph and Mary in the New Testament - names that were widely used in Palestine at the time. The adoration of the shepherds visiting the Nathanian Jesus boy lying in a poor stable in a manger between an ox and a donkey has been a popular motif in Christian art since the Middle Ages. Occasionally the scene is mistakenly mixed with the Adoration of the Magi, which, however, refers to the Solomon Jesus, the reborn Zarathustra.

According to Rudolf Steiner, the Nathanian Jesus is the pure Sibling Soul of Adam, untouched by Luciferic temptation, who remained in the soul world after the Fall of man as an Angelic or Archangel-like being. From the beginning, she stood in close relationship to the Christ, who worked through her and was thus able to accomplish the preliminary stages of the Mystery of Golgotha. Shortly before the dawn of the Kali-Yuga, the dark age in which natural clairvoyance was extinguished in most people, she appeared in the form of Krishna, through whom Vishnu-Christ revealed himself. At the turn of the age, she was born on earth as the Nathanian Jesus boy, whose bodily wrappings made possible the bodily incarnation of the Christ with the the Jordan baptism. At birth, his astral body was overlighted by the Nirmanakaya of the Buddha. It was also through the light of this sister soul of Adam that Paul of Tarsus recognised the Risen Christ during his Damascus experience.

The Report of the Gospel of Luke

The Annunciation and Birth of the Nathanian Jesus

Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The Genealogy of the Nathanian Jesus

The Jesus boy described in the Gospel of Luke comes from the Nathanian line of the House of David and is traced back to Adam, who was "the son of God".

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,[5] the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Explanations by Rudolf Steiner

„Let us take the facts. The writer of the Gospel of Matthew describes that the birth of the Creator of Christianity is foretold, that this birth takes place, that magi come from the East who have perceived the star, that the star has led them to the place where the Redeemer is born. He also describes that Herod is made aware of this and that, in order to escape Herod's measure, which consists of the Bethlehemite infanticide, the parents of the Redeemer flee with the child to Egypt. When Herod was dead, Joseph, the father of Jesus, was told that he could return, and he did not return to Bethlehem for fear of Herod's successor, but went to Nazareth. - Today I want to refrain from the announcement of the Baptist. But I would like to point out that if we compare the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew with each other, in the two Gospels the proclamation of Jesus of Nazareth is made quite differently: in one case it is made to Joseph, in the other to Mary. We then see from Luke's Gospel how the parents of Jesus of Nazareth originally live in Nazareth and then go to Bethlehem on one occasion, namely for the census. While they are there, the Jesus is born. Then after eight days the circumcision takes place - nothing of a flight to Egypt - ; and after some time, which is not far after, the child is presented in the temple. We see that the sacrifice is offered, which is customary, and that afterwards the parents go back with the child to Nazareth and live there. And then we are told of a strange procession, the procession of how the twelve-year-old Jesus stays behind in the temple during a visit that his parents have made to Jerusalem, how they search for him, how they then find him again in the temple among those who interpret the Scriptures, how he confronts them there as an expert in the interpretation of the Scriptures, how he appears intelligent and wise in the circle of the scribes. Then we are told how they take the child home again, how he grows up; and we hear nothing more special about him until John's baptism. There we have two stories of Jesus of Nazareth before the reception of the Christ.“ (Lit.:GA 114, p. 27f)

Rudolf Steiner explains further:

„This entity, which worked in the Nathanian Jesus boy, had for the first time entered into a physical embodiment in the Jesus of Bethlehem. Before that it had taken part in the development of humanity from the spiritual world, but had never lived in a physical human body. She had lived through the times when the human shells were created, through the Saturnian period in which the germ of the physical body was formed, through the solar and lunar periods when the etheric and astral bodies were formed, and through the smaller stages which repeated the great periods of time. But when the human I, in Lemurian times, descended into the three sheaths, this being, as it were, remained in the spiritual worlds as a part of the divine human being and did not take part in the development of the I in the three sheaths and its seduction by the Luciferic-Ahrimanic influence. This part of the divine human being, this spiritual being, which had held itself back in the spiritual worlds, descended for the first time into a physical body as the Nathanian Jesus boy, in order to be illuminated by the Christ. The baptism of John represents the penetration of Jesus by the Christ-Spirit.“ (Lit.:GA 152, p. 93)

According to Rudolf Steiner, the Nathan Jesus was born a few months after the Solomon Jesus and thus escaped - like John the Baptist - the infanticide of Bethlehem ordered by Herod the Great, of which the Gospel of Matthew tells us. The Solomon Jesus was only able to escape the massacre by fleeing to Egypt; in Luke's Gospel, which begins its narrative a little later, the infanticide is no longer described at all.

„The births of the two boys Jesus were separated by a few months. But both the Jesus of Luke's Gospel and John were born so much later that the so-called Bethlehemite infanticide could not have affected them.“ (Lit.:GA 114, p. 97)

However, the time difference between the birth of the two Jesus boys could also have been considerably greater. Since, according to historical sources, Herod the Great had already died in Jericho in March 4 BC, this is even very likely. The Bethlehem infanticide, which is not historically documented, must have taken place before his death. The following reference by Rudolf Steiner makes it clear that a few years difference is not important when dating the birth of the two Jesus boys:

„The Akasha Chronicle tells us that in the time approximately as it is stated in the Bible - a few years' difference is not important - Jesus of Nazareth was born, that in the body of Jesus of Nazareth lived an individuality which in earlier incarnations had already experienced high stages of initiation, had gained high insights into the spiritual world. Yes, the Akasha Chronicle tells us something more, and for the time being I will only go into the outer outlines of what it says. The Akasha Chronicle, which provides the only real history, tells us that the one who appeared in this Jesus of Nazareth had undergone the most diverse initiations in his earlier embodiments in the most diverse regions. And it leads us back to the fact that this later bearer of the name Jesus of Nazareth had originally attained a high, significant level of initiation and a high, significant effectiveness within the Persian world. Thus the Akasha Chronicle shows us how this individuality, which was in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, had also already worked within the spiritual world of ancient Persia, how it had looked up to the Sun and addressed the great Sun-Spirit as Ahura Mazda.“ (Lit.:GA 112, p. 141)

Some astronomers and historians assume that the Star of Bethlehem could have been a Great Conjunction of the planets Saturn and Jupiter in the years 7 to 6 B.C.[1][2] In astrology this constellation is considered a classical royal aspect (coniunctio aurea), representing the union of spiritual wisdom (Jupiter) and worldly creative power (Saturn), but which after all can be interpreted both beneficially and inauspiciously.[3] If one follows this astronomical-astrological interpretation of the Star of Bethlehem as the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, it would have been a good six years between the birth of the two boys.

Other external explanations for the Star of Bethlehem seem less convincing. The two conjunctions of Venus and [[Jupiter}} in the years 3 and 2 BC, which were very conspicuous (at the second encounter they merged into one brightly shining star for the unaided eye), are out of the question, since Herod was already dead at that time. The interpretation as Halley's Comet (12-11 B.C.) opens up a time window between the birth of the two boys Jesus that is probably too large. The reference to a hitherto unknown other comet or a nova in the years 5 or 4 BC remains very vague. Another possibility is a particularly unusual constellation of the Sun, Jupiter, Venus and the Moon in the constellation Aries, which occurred in 6 BC.

The Sibling Soul of Adam

In Lemurian times, the spark of the human I had been ignited by the Elohim sacrificing their I. However, not all of the I and soul substance entered the earthly incarnations of human beings. Part of the soul substance, the Sibling Soul of Adam, as it were, was retained in the spiritual world and kept for the later Nathan Jesus boy, while the I-substance was reserved for John the Baptist (see below):

„We must be clear about the fact that everything that preceded the Lemurian period was really only a repetition of the existence of Saturn, the Sun and the Moon, and that only then was the first germinal plant - as a possibility - laid in man, so that he could take on the fourth member of his being in the development of the Earth: the I. If we take the whole current of the evolution of mankind, we must say that mankind, as it has spread over the Earth - you have described this spread in more detail in the "Secret Science in Outline" - can be traced back in Lemurian times to certain human ancestors of this initial period of our present Earth. And we must fix a point in time in the Lemurian period after which we can properly speak of the human race in the present sense. What went before cannot yet be spoken of in such a way that one could say that those I's were already present in the earthly human beings who then incarnated further and further. That was not the case. Before that, man's I was by no means separated from the substance of that Hierarchy which first gave rise to this I of man, from the Hierarchy of the Spirits of Form. We can now imagine - as occult research shows - that a part of the substance of the Spirits of Form entered, as it were, into the human incarnations for the formation of the human I. But at that time, when man had his fleshly I, it was not separated from the substance of the Hierarchy. But when man was handed over to his fleshly incarnations on Earth, something of what was to become man was retained. So a substance of the I was retained, as it were, which was not led into the stream of fleshly incarnations. If we wanted to imagine this stream of fleshly incarnations of man, which begins with what the Bible calls the progenitor of the human race, Adam, we would have to draw a widely ramified family tree. But we can simply imagine: what has flowed down from the Spirits of Form now flows on; only something was retained, as it were, an I, which was now preserved from entering into the incarnations of the flesh - an I which did not always reappear as a human being, but which retained that form, that substantiality, which the human being had before he had progressed to his first incarnation on Earth. In other words, an I that lived on alongside the rest of humanity and which, up to the time we are now talking about, when the events of Palestine were to take place, had not yet been embodied in a human physical body, an I that was still in the same position as - if we now want to speak biblically - the I of Adam before his first earthly fleshly embodiment. Such an I was always present.

If we now touch a little on the occult knowledge of this I, which is of course something tremendously foolish for the man of today, we see that this I, which was kept back in reserve, as it were, was not conducted into a human body, but was actually only handed over to the sacred mysteries as they existed through the Atlantean times, through the post-Atlantean times. In an important mystery place it was kept as in a tabernacle. This I thus had very special peculiarities; it had the peculiarity that it was untouched by anything that a human I had ever been able to learn on Earth. It was also untouched by all Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences; it was something that we can imagine as an empty sphere in comparison with the other I's of human beings, actually only as something that was still completely virginal in relation to all earthly experiences, a nothing, a negative in relation to all earthly experiences. Therefore, it looked as if that Nathanian Jesus boy, whom the Gospel of Luke describes, had no human I at all, as if he consisted only of physical body, etheric body and astral body. And it suffices completely if we first say: such a developed I as had developed through the Atlantean and post-Atlantean times is not at all present in the Jesus boy of Luke.“ (Lit.:GA 131, p. 177ff)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. Burkard Steinrücken: Der Stern von Bethlehem - Wie weit kann seriöse astronomische Deutung gehen? Westfälische Volkssternwarte und Planetarium Recklinghausen, 26 March 2003, retrieved 11 July 2021 (pdf; 1.8 MB)
  2. Johannes Kepler: De Stella nova in pede Serpentarii (1606)
  3. Great conjunction. Astrowiki, retrieved 12 July 2021.