From AnthroWiki
Revision as of 23:18, 12 July 2021 by Odyssee (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Giotto di Bondone, Raising of Lazarus (c. 1425), fresco in the Magadalen Chapel in the lower church of San Francesco in Assisi.

Lazarus of Bethany (GreekΛάζαρος Lazaros; Hebrewאֶלְעָזָר Elʿazar "God has helped") was, according to the testimony of John's Gospel, the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethany and, with them, belonged to Christ's closest circle of disciples.

In Luke's Gospel, the parable of the rich man and the poor Lazarus (Luke 16:20–31) is reported, but he is not identical with the Lazarus from Bethany.

Of the canonical Gospels, only the Gospel of John describes the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1–45). A similar but somewhat extended account of the raising of Lazarus is also found in the so-called Secret Gospel of Mark, but its authenticity is disputed.[1]

In Bethany (Hebrewבית עניה bait 'oni "house of poverty" or also "house of death"; from Hebrewעֹנִי 'oni "poverty"), which was later called Lazarion and is today called Arabic العيزرية, a tomb of Lazarus, where the resurrection is said to have taken place, was named as early as the 4th century.

The raising of Lazarus

The Death of Lazarus

1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. 55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Lazarus and John

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Raising of Lazarus, 1609
See also: Lazarus-John

Rudolf Steiner already pointed out in his early work «Christianity as a Mystical Fact and the Mysteries of Antiquity» (1902) and later again and again that the raising of Lazarus from the dead described in the Gospel of John was in truth an act of initiation induced by fate, in the course of which Lazarus, as was customary in the ancient pre-Christian mysteries, went through a three-and-a-half-day sleep of death, from which he was awakened by the Christ. After his awakening, Lazarus bore the initiatory name John, which in Hebrew means "the LORD (YHWH) is gracious" and is understood in Judaism as an expression of a birth given as a divine gift. John, the awakened Lazarus, is, according to Steiner, identical with the writer of the Gospel of John, the evangelist John.

Lazarus and Osiris

The name of Lazarus also contains a reference to the Egyptian god Osiris, who is also translated into Hebrew as El-Azar (Hebrewאֶלְעָזָר "God has helped"). The reawakening of Osiris takes place in the house of the dead, which was called Annu. Lazarus is raised in Bethany (Hebrewבית עניה bait 'oni "house of poverty", or also "house of death"; from Hebrewעֹנִי 'oni "poverty").

The revival of the ancient Persian culture in a renewed form

In the raising of Lazarus, the Christ-I works into the etheric body of Lazarus. At the same time, the ancient Persian culture is reawakened in a renewed form.

„The second post-Atlantean age is that of Zarathustra. It has a special relationship to the Christ through this. For Zarathustra pointed to the Sun God, Ahura Mazdao, who approached the Earth, and who was none other than the future Christ. And in his whole mission Zarathustra was a forerunner for the Christ, teaching to value and work the earth, not to flee from the evil powers, but to overcome them and thereby redeem them. Thus the I of Zarathustra, the highest ascended human I, could be chosen to dwell for 18 years in the sheaths that were then to receive the Christ. His I left the shells shortly before John's baptism in the Jordan. Thus he was not present in the flesh when the Christ walked on earth. He himself incarnated soon after leaving the three shells of the Nathanian Jesus; his ego united with the etheric body of the Solomon Jesus, which had been taken into the spiritual world by the mother of the Nathanian Jesus at his death.

So the Christ Jesus could not awaken Zarathustra as the appointed representative of the second post-Atlantean age. But another individuality was, as it were, embodied on earth in that time, whose development and most important mission for humanity was strangely parallel to that of Zarathustra. This was Lazarus, the reborn Hiram Abiff, the most significant of the Sons of Cain, who had also worked on the earth mission from the human ego, as Zarathustra had done in ancient Persia. He becomes "sick", he "dies" and is laid in the grave. The Christ Jesus learns of his sickness and he speaks to his disciples of the death of Lazarus. "Then said Thomas, which is called the twin, unto the disciples: Let us go with him, that we may die with him." (John 11:16)

In this awakening, which is to take place with Lazarus, the souls belonging to the second post-Atlantean age - as the "people from the city" in the raising of the young man at Nain represent the third post-Atlantean age - are represented by Thomas, the "twin". For the second post-Atlantean period was the period of the twins. His otherwise completely meaningless words testify that the second post-Atlantean period is ready to be raised up by the Christ. That which lived as the germ of culture in the ancient Persian period did not die. It is not the raising of a dead person, but the initiation of a living one. This is the great difference between the narration of this resurrection and the other two. Therefore the Christ Jesus saith, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." And the Christ Jesus cometh to the sepulchre where they had laid Lazarus, who was pronounced dead, and he saith the sacramental words before all the people, "Lazarus, come forth!" - And the deceased came forth, bound with burial cloths on his hands and feet, and his face covered with a face-cloth. And the Christ Jesus speaks the words which indicate, as it were, that from that hour this initiate will begin to work. "Loose him and let him go".

He is not a youth like the youth of Nain, he is a man in full possession of his spiritual powers. And the resurrected Lazarus becomes the writer of the Gospel of John. He is the one who stands at the cross and to whom the Christ Jesus speaks from the cross, pointing to the mother Sophia-Maria: "Behold, this is your mother!" In this way, his peculiar vicarious relationship to the I of Zarathustra, who as the Solomonian Jesus boy was really born as the son of this mother, is once again manifested.

With this power in him he can already work before the sixth post-Atlantean age, already in the fifth cultural age he prepares the sixth, the one which will show the deepest understanding of the Christ-impulse, which will best understand the Gospel of John.

(Among the twelve apostles, Lazarus-John himself is represented, as it were, again by another. John, the brother of James and son of Zebedee, is not an apostle in the proper sense. James and John are in a certain sense one, they represent among the more intimate disciples of the Christ Jesus the power of the intellectual or mind soul, which has a double function in man, but is nevertheless a unity. Hence they are called "sons of thunder", for thunder is macrocosmically the same as thought is in the human microcosm. But when Lazarus becomes John, he takes the place of the one son of Zebedee, and as such he is the one who lay at Jesus' breast at the Last Supper).“ (Lit.:GA 264, p. 230ff)


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. The Secret Gospel of Mark is an expanded textual variant of the canonical Gospel of Mark that survives only in two fragments found in a letter attributed to Clement of Alexandria, but which is preserved only in an 18th century copy. This copy was discovered by Morton Smith (1915-1991) in the monastery of Mar Saba near Jerusalem and published in 1973. The authenticity of the document is not considered certain, but philological investigations suggest that Clement's authorship is quite possible. The passage in question is said to be inserted between Mk 10:34 and 35 and reads:
    "And they came to Bethany, and a certain woman, whose brother was dead, was there. And coming near, she prostrated herself before Jesus, and said unto him, 'Son of David, have mercy on me.' But the disciples rejected her. And Jesus, being enraged, went with her into the garden where the tomb was, and immediately a loud cry was heard from the tomb. And coming nearer, Jesus rolled away the stone from the entrance of the sepulchre. And straightway he went in where the young man was, and put forth his hand, and took hold of the young man's hand, and drew him up. But the young man, when he looked upon him, loved him, and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And they went out of the sepulchre, and came into the young man's house, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what he should do, and in the evening the young man comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over [his] naked [body]. And he stayed with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God. And from there he arose and went back to the other side of the Jordan." [1]
    This is followed in the canonical Gospel of Mark by a conversation of the Christ with the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, about ruling and serving. The second surviving fragment of the Secret Gospel follows directly on from this, adding after the words "And he comes to Jericho" in Mark 10:46:
    "And the sister of the young man whom Jesus loved, and his mother, and Salome [Zebedee's wife and John's mother] were there, and Jesus received them not".
    Then follows the healing of a man born blind at Jericho.