An article originally published
May/Jun 1977 Vol.18 No. 3
Continuing his series for students, Mr. Farthing introduces us to the profound esotericism of the Bible, a compendium of the Wisdom tradition. In the next article, some New Testament references will be taken up.[Ed. The Theosophical Journal 1977; Ianthe Hoskins.]
THEOSOPHICAL literature is extraordinarily rich in the history of the Bible as a book and in explanations of many of its otherwise obscure passages. To read what our literature has to say is an education in itself and a very liberating experience. The quotations and references which follow are a very small random selection out of literally hundreds of relevant passages.
1. It is not easy to get an overall idea of the esoteric story or meaning of the Bible. One trouble is that we are really given too much information. The vast subject is described and explained to us against a background not only of the scriptures of other living religions but also of the old pantheisms and in the light of all the ancient philosophical systems and the writings of the great independent philosophers.
However, we can take what we can assimilate from all that is offered and our horizons will expand as we go. What is offered is quite remarkable in its extent. It is easy to believe that such an amount of knowledge could never have been acquired in the ordinary way by any individual scholar, however great, in a lifetime. In itself this can be taken as evidence of the co-operation of Masters of Wisdom in the writing of our classics.
2. The pattern of the specimen extracts and references offered below is that of the Bible itself, with the Old and the New Testaments as natural divisions. The Bible is regarded as an occult book, but keys are necessary for the understanding of it and of its dramatis personae.
We are given information about the history of the Bible as a book. We are given keys to the meaning of its multitudinous allegories, e.g. from Genesis-Adam, the Garden of Eden, Satan, Noah, the Ark and Abraham. Later on, the Gospels are explained esoterically: we are told of the training of Jesus, what the term Christ really signifies, and - last but not least - what Christian Theology has made of the original teachings.
3. (a) Genesis is a secret book:
"The Old Testament was compiled and arranged from oral tradition; the masses never knew its real meaning ... ". (Isis Unveiled Vol.I p435).
"We are no less right in always maintaining that the Jewish biblical history was a compilation of historical facts, arranged from other peoples' history in Jewish garb - Genesis excluded, which is esotericism pure and simple". (The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p203/Vol.II p.213/ Vol.III p.208)
(b) In notes appended to an article by Charles Johnston 'analyzing the inner meaning of the first chapter of Genesis', H.P. Blavatsky summarizes the esoteric teaching: there were two creations, a primary (Chapter I) and a secondary (Chapter II); Adam is not a man but the collectivity of the Sephiroth (Adam Kadmon, the "Heavenly Man"); the animals mentioned in the first chapter are the zodiacal signs; "Light" refers to the angelic hosts. (Collected Writings of H.P. Blavatsky Vol. IX p237 & p238).
(c) "From verse 24 to 34, Chapter XXV of Genesis contains the allegorical history of the birth of the Fifth Race". (The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p705/Vol.II p745/Vol.IV p275).
(d) A brief look at the Adam and Eve story.
" ... who was the first to create that original and henceforward universal tempter of man - the woman? Not the Serpent, surely, but the "Lord God" himself ... If the unpleasant little incident that followed was and is still to be regarded as the "original sin", then it exhibits the Creator's divine foresight in a poor light indeed ... Those who read (these events) esoterically are not reduced to fanciful speculations and hypotheses; they know how to read the symbolism therein contained, and cannot err". (The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p387/ Vol.II p405/ Vol.III p 386).
(e) Of Adam's rib: the separation of the sexes.
"How was the separation of sexes effected? ... Are we to believe in the old Jewish fable of the rib of Adam yielding Eve? Even such belief is more logical and reasonable than the descent of man from the Quadrumana without any reservation: as the former hides an esoteric truth under a fabulous version, while the latter conceals no deeper fact than a desire to force upon mankind a materialistic fiction. The rib is bone, and when we read in Genesis that Eve was made out of the rib, it only means that the Race with bones was produced out of a previous Race and Races, which were "boneless". This is an esoteric tenet spread far and wide. It is almost universal under its various forms". (The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p193/ Vol.II p203/ Vol.III p199).
(f) The Secret Doctrine teaches " ... that man, in this Round, preceded every mammalian - the anthropoids included - in the animal kingdom".
To this statement is added a footnote: "See Genesis II 19. Adam is formed in verse 7, and in verse 19 it is said: "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them". Thus man was created before the animals; for the animals mentioned in chapter I are the signs of the Zodiac, while the man, "male and female", is not man, but the Host of the Sephiroth, FORCES, or Angels, "Made in his (God's) image and after his likeness". The Adam, man, is not made in that likeness, nor is it so asserted in the Bible. Moreover, the Second Adam is esoterically a septenary which represents seven men, or rather groups of men. For the first Adam, the Kadmon, is the synthesis of the ten Sephiroth. Of these, the upper Triad remains in the Archetypal World as the future "Trinity", while the seven lower Sephiroth create the manifested material world; and this septennate is the Second Adam. Genesis, and the mysteries upon which it was fabricated, came from Egypt. The "God" of the first chapter of Genesis, is the Logos, and the "Lord God" of the second chapter the Creative Elohim, the lower Powers. (The Secret Doctrine Vol.II pps1, 2, 112 and footnotes/ Vol.II pps1, 2, 118, 119 and footnotes/ Vol.III pps15, 16, 120 and footnotes).
(g) Of the Garden of Eden.
"What is the etymological meaning of the word Eden? In Greek it is hedone, signifying "voluptuousness". In this aspect it is no better than the Olympus of the Greek, Indra's Heaven, Svarga, on Mount Meru, and even the Paradise full of Houris, promised by Mahomet to the faithful. The Garden of Eden was never the property of the Jews, for China, which can hardly he suspected of having known anything of the Jews 2,000 B.C, had such a primitive Garden in Central Asia inhabited by the "Dragons of Wisdom", the Initiates ...”
"But this is not the Genetic Eden; nor is it the Kabalistical Garden of Eden. For the former - Eden Illa-ah - means in one sense Wisdom, a state like that of Nirvana, a Paradise of Bliss; while in another sense it refers to Intellectual Man himself, the container of the Eden in which grows the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil; man being the Knower thereof". (The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p203, p204/ Vol.II p213 p214/ Vol.III p208).
The above are a very few samples of the explanations of the many stories in the Old Testament. The student is recommended to read up the references for himself because the amplification of the points made in the text leads into an insight of the real occult meaning. This can be very illuminating and exciting.
Isis Unveiled H.P. Blavatsky.
The Secret Doctrine: References to the three editions in general use are given in the order of publication, viz: 1888 (Original) 1893-7
Collected Writings of H. P. Blavatsky. link
The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett: the page numbers in brackets refer to the 3rd (1972) Edition.
Geoffrey Farthing (1909-2004), author and international lecturer made the study of Theosophy, and in particular the esoteric writings of H.P. Blavatsky, his abiding interest for over 60 years. Geoffrey held most positions in the Theosophical Society in England including General Secretary (1969-72). He served a term as a member of the Society's General Council at Adyar, India, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the European Federation for a number of years. He founded The Blavatsky Trust, an educational charity, in England in 1974. In the same year he gave the prestigious Blavatsky Lecture at the Annual Convention of the English Theosophical Society on Life, Death and Dreams, and in 1996, was awarded the Subba Row Medal for his significant contribution to theosophical literature.