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Anthroposophy in the Light of Goethe's Faust

Writings and Lectures from Mid-1890s to 1916 (CW 272)

Rudolf Steiner Translated by Burley Channer Introduction by Frederick Amrine

512 pp.  
6" x 9 1/4"



Published:  December 2015


15 lectures, Strassburg, Berlin, Dornach, 1910-1916 (CW 272);
1 lecture, Basel, Sept. 15, 1912 (CW 139);
2 lectures, Berlin, Feb. 3, Aug. 19, 1916 (CW 65);
Extracts from Rudolf Steiner's writings on Faust, 1880s-1909 (various volumes);
Introduction: "Rudolf Steiner’s Faust," by Frederick Amrine

  • How all combines into one whole,
  • Each in the other works and lives!
  • How forces of the heavens rise and fall
  • And hand each other golden vessels!
  •           Faust (lines 447ff )

Goethe, the great German polymath poet, scientist, dramatist, and novelist, was a major influence throughout Steiner’s life and teaching. While still a student, Steiner wrote introductions to Goethe’ scientific writings (1884–1890), the collection of which became volume 1 in his Collected Works. He also wrote two volumes on Goethe’s epistemology (1886) and philosophy (1894). As he moved closer to the esoteric world, he also gave seminal lectures on Goethe’s fairy tale, “The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.” Gradually, he finally approach Goethe’s masterwork, the epic (and deeply esoteric) drama, Faust.

This book contains fifteen lectures, given between 1910 and 1916. A companion volume (CW 273, forthcoming) contains thirteen more lectures given between 1916 and 1919. Taken together these two volumes illuminate in deeply esoteric ways both Anthroposophy and Goethe’s own astonishing vision; the first volume focusing more on anthroposophy, the second more on Faust.

Beginning with ten short extracts that span twenty years (from the 1880s to 1909), the first lecture sets the tone—Goethe sought spiritual science, Faust is the record of his striving, and we are led to see how Goethe’s great drama is filled with embryonic insights that developed and became Anthroposophy. This theme is then developed, in lecture after lecture, with ever-deepening focus. Whether it is a question of the spiritual nature of matter, the reverence for truth and knowledge, reincarnation, the Mystery of Golgotha, evil, the nature of the elemental world, aesthetics, the challenge of our times, human destiny and the nature evolution, these lectures show Goethe as the great initiate and develop Anthroposophy—Spiritual Science—in a profoundly esoteric light.

Not previously published in English, this volume has been awaited by many. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Rudolf Steiner and spiritual science.


  • Introduction: Rudolf Steiner’s Faust, by Frederick Amrine


  • 1888 GA 32, Faust Explained According to Goethe’s Own Method
  • 1894 GA 32, A New Book on Goethe’s Faust
  • 1897 GA 29, Faust: A Tragedy by J. W. Goethe
  • 1899/1902 GA 22, Goethe’s Faust as a Picture of His Esoteric View of Life
  • January 26, 1905 GA 53, Goethe’s Gospel
  • July 10, 1905 GA 35, The Esoteric Foundation of Goethe’s Creative Work
  • October 24, 1908 GA 57, Goethe’s Secret Revelation – Esoteric
  • March 11, 1909 GA 57, The Riddles in Goethe’s Faust – Exoteric
  • March 12, 1909 GA 57, The Riddles in Goethe’s Faust – Esoteric


  • January 23, 1910 GA 272, Lecture 1, Strassburg: Goethe’s Faust from the Standpoint of Spiritual Science
  • December 17, 1911 GA 272, Lecture 2, Berlin: The Relationship of Goethe’s Faustto Goethe
  • September 15, 1912 GA 139, Lecture 1, Basel: The Gospel of St. Mark [Excerpt on Faust and Hamlet]
  • April 4, 1915 GA 272, Lecture 3, Dornach: Faust’s Struggle for the Christ-permeated Source of Life
  • April 11, 1915 GA 272, Lecture 4, Dornach: Faust’s Forced Entry into the Spiritual World
  • May 22, 1915 GA 272, Lecture 5, Dornach: Pentecost Mood: Faust’s Initiation with the Spirits of the Earth
  • May 30, 1915 GA 272, Lecture 6, Dornach: Faust, The World’s Greatest Poetic Work of Human Striving: The Classical Phantasmagoria
  • August 14, 1915 GA 272, Lecture 7, Dornach: Faust’s Ascension
  • August 15, 1915 GA 272, Lecture 8, Dornach: Mystical Knowledge and Spiritual Revelation of Nature: Perception of Spirits
  • August 16, 1915 GA 272, Lecture 9, Dornach: The Realm of the Mothers: (Ascension) The Mater Gloriosa
  • December 2, 1915 GA 65, Berlin: Goethe and the Worldview of German Idealism
  • February 3, 1916 GA 65, Berlin: Faust’s Journey through the World and His Rebirth in German Intellectual History
  • August 19, 1916 GA 272, Lecture 10, Dornach: Wisdom – Beauty – Goodness: Michael – Gabriel – Raphael
  • August 20, 1916 GA 272, Lecture 11, Dornach: The Historical Significance of Faust
  • September 4, 1916 GA 272, Lecture 12, Dornach: The “Burial”: The Nature of the Lemures, the Fat Devils and the Skinny Devils
  • September 9, 1916 GA 272, Lecture 13, Dornach: Goethe’s Insights into the Secrets of Human Existence
  • September 10, 1916 GA 272, Lecture 14, Dornach: Perspectives on the True Realities Goethe Was Seeking
  • September 11, 1916 GA 272, Lecture 15, Dornach: Goethe Plumbs the Depths of Evolution and Its Cosmic Secrets in His Faust: The Luciferic and the Ahrimanic Temptation

This book is volume 272 in the Collected Works (CW) of Rudolf Steiner, published by SteinerBooks, 2013. It is a translation of the German Geisteswissenschaftliche Erläuterungen zu Goethes Faust. Band I Faust der Strebende Mensch (Novalis-Verlag Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1955).

Related Titles

  • The Time Is at Hand! : The Rosicrucian Nature of Goethe's Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily and the Mystery Dramas of Rudolf Steiner
  • The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily
  • Nature's Open Secret : Introductions to Goethe's Scientific Writings (CW 1)

    Related Titles by Subject:

    Collected Works ; Anthroposophy: Art & Literature and Anthroposophy: General