Jakob Böhme

Jakob Böhme

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Jakob Böhme was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 Christian mystic and theologian. He is considered an original thinker within the Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 tradition. In contemporary English, his name may be spelled Jacob Boehme; in seventeenth-century England it was also spelled Behmen, approximating the contemporary English pronunciation of the German Böhme.

Biography


Böhme was born in April 1575, at Alt Seidenberg (now a part of Sulików, Lower Silesian Voivodeship
Sulików, Lower Silesian Voivodeship
Sulików is a village in Zgorzelec County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It is the seat of the administrative district called Gmina Sulików, close to the Czech border. Prior to 1945 it was in Germany....

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

), a village near Görlitz
Görlitz
Görlitz is a town in Germany. It is the easternmost town in the country, located on the Lusatian Neisse River in the Bundesland of Saxony. It is opposite the Polish town of Zgorzelec, which was a part of Görlitz until 1945. Historically, Görlitz was in the region of Upper Lusatia...

 in Upper Lusatia
Upper Lusatia
Upper Lusatia is a region a biggest part of which belongs to Saxony, a small eastern part belongs to Poland, the northern part to Brandenburg. In Saxony, Upper Lusatia comprises roughly the districts of Bautzen and Görlitz , in Brandenburg the southern part of district Oberspreewald-Lausitz...

, a territory of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. His father, George Wissen, was reasonably wealthy, but a peasant nonetheless. Böhme's first job was that of a herd boy. He was, however, deemed to be not strong enough for husbandry. When he was 14 years old, he was sent to Seidenberg
Zawidów
Zawidów is a town in Zgorzelec County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland, close to the Czech border. Prior to 1945 it was in Germany...

, as an apprentice to become a shoemaker. His apprenticeship for shoemaking was hard; he lived with a family who were not Christians, which exposed him to the controversies of the time. He regularly prayed and read the Bible as well as works by visionaries such as Paracelsus
Paracelsus
Paracelsus was a German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist....

, Weigel
Valentin Weigel
Valentin Weigel was a German theologian, philosopher and mystical writer, from Saxony, and an important precursor of later theosophy. In English he is often called Valentine Weigel....

 and Schwenckfeld, although he received no formal education. After three years as an apprentice, Böhme left to travel. Although it is unknown just how far he went, he at least made it to Görlitz. By 1599, Böhme was master of his craft with his own premises in Görlitz. That same year he married Katharina daughter of Hans Kuntzschmann, a butcher in Görlitz, and together he and Katharinea had four sons and two daughters.

Böhme had a number of mystical experiences throughout his youth, culminating in a vision
Vision (religion)
In spirituality, a vision is something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy, especially a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation.Visions generally have more clarity than dreams, but traditionally fewer psychological connotations...

 in 1600 as one day he focused his attention onto the exquisite beauty of a beam of sunlight reflected in a pewter dish. He believed this vision revealed to him the spiritual structure of the world, as well as the relationship between God and man, and good and evil. At the time he chose not to speak of this experience openly, preferring instead to continue his work and raise a family.

The shop in Görlitz, which was sold in 1613, had allowed Böhme to buy a house in 1610 and to finish paying for it in 1618. Having given up shoemaking in 1613, Böhme sold woollen gloves for a while, which caused him to regularly visit Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 to sell his wares.

Aurora and writings

There are as many blasphemies in this shoemaker's book as there are lines; it smells of shoemaker's pitch and filthy blacking. May this insufferable stench be far from us. The Arian poison was not so deadly as this shoemaker's poison,
— Gregorius Richter following the publication of Aurora.

Twelve years after the vision in 1600, Böhme began to write his first book, Die Morgenroete im Aufgang. The book was given the name Aurora by a friend; however, Böhme originally wrote the book for himself and it was never completed. A manuscript copy was loaned to Karl von Ender, a nobleman, who had copies made and began to circulate the manuscript. A copy fell into the hands of Gregorius Richter, the chief pastor of Görlitz, who considered it heretical
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 and threatened Böhme with exile if he did not stop writing. As a result, Böhme did not write anything for several years; however, at the insistence of friends who had read Aurora, he started writing again in 1618. It took him two years to finish his second book, which was followed by many other treatises. These were copied by hand and circulated among friends. The year 1622 saw Böhme write some short works; however, these were subsequently published in his first published book on New Year's Day 1624, under the title Weg zu Christo (The Way to Christ).

The publication caused another scandal and following complaints by the clergy, Böhme was summoned to the Town Council on the 26th March 1624. The report of the meeting was that:
I must tell you, sir, that yesterday the pharisaical devil was let loose, cursed me and my little book, and condemned the book to the fire. He charged me with shocking vices; with being a scorner of both Church and Sacraments, and with getting drunk daily on brandy, wine, and beer; all of which is untrue; while he himself is a drunken man."
— Jacob Boehme writing about Gregorius Richter on the 2nd April 1624.

Böhme left for Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

 on 8 or 9 May 1624. For two months, he stayed with the court physician there. He was accepted by the nobility and high clergy in Dresden. Böhme's intellect was recognised by clerics and professors in Dresden, who in a hearing in May 1624, encouraged Böhme to go home to his family in Görlitz. During Böhme's absence his family had suffered during the Thirty Years' War.

Once home, Böhme accepted an invitation to stay with Herr von Schweinitz, who had a country-seat. While there Böhme began to write his last book, the 177 Theosophic Questions. However, he fell terminally ill with a bowel complaint forcing him to travel home on 7 November. Gregorius Richter, Böhme's adversary from Görlitz, died in August 1624, while Böhme was away. The new clergy were still wary. When Böhme wanted to receive the sacrament, he was forced to answer a long list of questions. He died some time in the middle of November 1624.

In this short period, Böhme produced an enormous amount of writing, including his major works De Signatura Rerum and Mysterium Magnum. He also developed a following throughout Europe, where his followers were known as Behmenists
Behmenism
Behmenism, also Behemenism and similar, is the English-language designation for a 17th Century European Christian movement based on the teachings of German mystic and theosopher Jakob Böhme . The term was not usually applied by followers of Böhme's theosophy to themselves, but rather was used by...

.

The son of Böhme's chief antagonist, the pastor primarius of Görlitz Gregorius Richter, edited a collection of extracts from his writings, which were afterwards published complete at Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 with the help of Coenraad van Beuningen
Coenraad van Beuningen
Coenraad van Beuningen was the Dutch Republic's most experienced diplomat, burgemeester of Amsterdam in 1669, 1672, 1680, 1681, 1683 and 1684, and from 1681 a VOC director...

 in the year 1682. Böhme's full works were first printed in 1730.

Theology


The chief concern of Böhme's writing was the nature of sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

, evil
Evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

 and redemption. Consistent with Lutheran theology, Böhme preached that humanity had fallen from a state of divine grace
Divine grace
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

 to a state of sin and suffering, that the forces of evil included fallen angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s who had rebelled against God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, and that God's goal was to restore the world to a state of grace.

There are some serious departures from accepted theology, however, such as his rejection of sola fide
Sola fide
Sola fide , also historically known as the doctrine of justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine that distinguishes most Protestant denominations from Catholicism, Eastern Christianity, and some in the Restoration Movement.The doctrine of sola fide or "by faith alone"...

, as in this passage from The Way to Christ:

"For he that will say, I have a Will, and would willingly do Good, but the earthly Flesh which I carry about me, keepeth me back, so that I cannot; yet I shall be saved by Grace, for the Merits of Christ. I comfort myself with his Merit and Sufferings; who will receive me of mere Grace, without any Merits of my own, and forgive me my Sins. Such a one, I say, is like a Man that knoweth what Food is good for his Health, yet will not eat of it, but eateth Poison instead thereof, from whence Sickness and Death, will certainly follow."


Another place where Böhme may depart from accepted theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 (though this was open to question due to his somewhat obscure, oracular style) was in his description of the Fall
The Fall of Man
In Christian doctrine, the Fall of Man, or simply the Fall, refers to the transition of the first humans from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience to God. In Genesis chapter 2, Adam and Eve live at first with God in a paradise, but the serpent tempts them into...

 as a necessary stage in the evolution of the Universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

. A difficulty with his theology is the fact that he had a mystical vision, which he reinterpreted and reformulated. According to F. von Ingen, to Böhme, in order to reach God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, man has to go through hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 first. God exists without time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 or space
Space
Space is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum...

, he regenerates himself through eternity
Eternity
While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existence for a limitless amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside time. By contrast, infinite temporal existence is then called sempiternity. Something eternal exists outside time; by contrast,...

, so Böhme, who restates the trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 as truly existing but with a novel interpretation. God, the Father is fire, who gives birth to his son, whom Böhme calls light. The Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 is the living principle, or the divine life.

However, it is clear that Böhme never claimed that God sees evil as desirable, necessary or as part of divine will to bring forth good. In his Threefold Life, Böhme states: "[I]n the order of nature, an evil thing cannot produce a good thing out of itself, but one evil thing generates another." Böhme did not believe that there is any "divine mandate or metaphysically inherent necessity for evil and its effects in the scheme of thing." Dr. John Pordage, a commentator on Böhme, wrote that Böhme "whensoever he attributes evil to eternal nature considers it in its fallen state, as it became infected by the fall of Lucifer... ." Evil is seen as "the disorder, rebellion, perversion of making spirit nature's servant", which is to say a perversion of initial Divine order.

Cosmology


In one interpretation of Böhme's cosmology
Religious cosmology
A Religious cosmology is a way of explaining the origin, the history and the evolution of the universe based on the religious mythology of a specific tradition...

, it was necessary for humanity to depart from God, and for all original unities to undergo differentiation, desire and conflict -—as in the rebellion of Satan
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

, the separation of Eve
Eve (Bible)
Eve was, according to the creation of Abrahamic religions, the first woman created by God...

 from Adam and their acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil — in order for creation to evolve to a new state of redeemed harmony that would be more perfect than the original state of innocence, allowing God to achieve a new self-awareness by interacting with a creation that was both part of, and distinct from, Himself. Free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 becomes the most important gift God gives to humanity, allowing us to seek divine grace as a deliberate choice while still allowing us to remain individuals.

Böhme saw the incarnation of Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 not as a sacrificial offering to cancel out human sins, but as an offering of love for humanity, showing God's willingness to bear the suffering that had been a necessary aspect of creation. He also believed the incarnation of Christ conveyed the message that a new state of harmony is possible. This was somewhat at odds with Lutheran teachings, and his suggestion that God would have been somehow incomplete without the Creation was even more controversial, as was his emphasis on faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 and self-awareness rather than strict adherence to dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 or scripture.

Marian views


Böhme believed that the Son of God
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

 became human through the Virgin Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

. Before the birth of Christ, God recognized himself as a virgin. This virgin is therefore a mirror of God's wisdom
Wisdom
Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgements and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one's emotional reactions so that universal principles, reason and...

 and knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

. Böhme follows Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

, in that he views Mary within the context of Christ. Unlike Luther, he does not address himself to dogmatic issues very much, but to the human side of Mary. Like all other women, she was human and therefore subject to sin. Only after God elected her with his grace to become the mother of his son, did she inherit the status of sinlessness. Mary did not move the Word, the Word moved Mary, so Böhme, explaining that all her grace came from Christ. Mary is "blessed among women" but not because of her qualifications, but because of her humility
Humility
Humility is the quality of being modest, and respectful. Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue in many religious and philosophical traditions, being connected with notions of transcendent unity with the universe or the divine, and of egolessness.-Term:The term "humility"...

. Mary is an instrument of God; an example of what God can do: It shall not be forgotten in all eternity, that God became human in her.

Böhme, unlike Luther, does not believe that Mary was the Ever Virgin. Her virginity after the birth of Jesus is unrealistic to Böhme. The true salvation is Christ, not Mary. The importance of Mary, a human like every one of us, is that she gave birth to Jesus Christ as a human being. If Mary had not been human, according to Böhme, Christ would be a stranger and not our brother. Christ must grow in us as he did in Mary. She became blessed by accepting Christ. In a reborn Christian, as in Mary, all that is temporal disappears and only the heavenly part remains for all eternity. Böhme's peculiar theological language, involving fire
Fire
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition....

, light
Light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

 and spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

, which permeates his theology and Marian views, does not distract much from the fact that his basic positions are Lutheran, with the one exception of the virginity of Mary, where he holds a more temporal view.

Influences


Böhme's writing shows the influence of Neoplatonist and alchemical
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

 writers such as Paracelsus
Paracelsus
Paracelsus was a German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist....

, while remaining firmly within a Christian tradition. He has in turn greatly influenced many anti-authoritarian and mystical movements, such as the Religious Society of Friends
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

, the Philadelphians
Philadelphians
The Philadelphians, or the Philadelphian Society, were a Protestant 17th century religious group in England. They were organized around John Pordage , an Anglican priest from Bradfield, Berkshire, who had been ejected from his parish in 1655 because of differing views, but then reinstated in 1660...

, the Gichtelians
Johann Georg Gichtel
Johann Georg Gichtel was a German mystic and religious leader who was a critic of Lutheranism. His followers ultimately separated from this faith.-Biography:...

, the Society of the Woman in the Wilderness
Johannes Kelpius
Johannes Kelpius , a German Pietist, mystic, musician, and writer, interested in the occult, botany, and astronomy, came to believe with his followers in the "Society of the Woman in the Wilderness" that the end of the world would occur in 1694...

, the Ephrata Cloister
Ephrata Cloister
The Ephrata Cloister or Ephrata Community was a religious community, established in 1732 by Johann Conrad Beissel at Ephrata, in what is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania...

, the Harmony Society
Harmony Society
The Harmony Society was a Christian theosophy and pietist society founded in Iptingen, Germany, in 1785. Due to religious persecution by the Lutheran Church and the government in Württemberg, the Harmony Society moved to the United States on October 7, 1803, initially purchasing of land in Butler...

, the Zoarite Separatists
Zoar, Ohio
Zoar is a village in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, United States. The population was 193 at the 2000 census.-History:Zoar was founded by German religious dissenters called the Society of Separatists of Zoar in 1817. It was a communal society, with many German-style structures that have been restored and...

, Rosicrucianism, Martinism
Martinism
Martinism is a form of mystical and esoteric Christianity concerned with the fall of the first man, his state of material privation from his divine source, and the process of his return, called 'Reintegration' or illumination....

 and Christian
Esoteric Christianity
Esoteric Christianity is a term which refers to an ensemble of spiritual currents which regard Christianity as a mystery religion, and profess the existence and possession of certain esoteric doctrines or practices, hidden from the public but accessible only to a narrow circle of "enlightened",...

 theosophy
Theosophy (history of philosophy)
Theosophy , designates several bodies of ideas since Late Antiquity. The Greek term is attested on magical papyri .-Neoplatonism:...

. Böhme's disciple and mentor, the Liegnitz physician Balthasar Walther
Balthasar Walther
Balthasar Walther was a Silesian physician and Christian Kabbalist of German ethnicity. Born in Liegnitz in modern Poland, Walther was a significant influence on the thought of the German theosopher Jakob Böhme. As an itinerant Paracelsian enthusiast, Walther was active throughout the Holy Roman...

, who had travelled to the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

 in search of magical, kabbalistic
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 and alchemical
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

 wisdom, also introduced kabbalistic ideas into Böhme's thought. Boehme was also an important source of German Romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 philosophy, influencing Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling , later von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism, situating him between Fichte, his mentor prior to 1800, and Hegel, his former university roommate and erstwhile friend...

 in particular. In Richard Bucke
Richard Bucke
Richard Maurice Bucke , often called Maurice Bucke, was an important Canadian progressive psychiatrist in the late nineteenth century. An adventurer in his youth, he went on to study medicine, practice psychiatry in Ontario, and befriend a number of noted men of letters in Canada, the U.S., and...

's 1901 treatise Cosmic Consciousness, special attention was given to the profundity of Boehme's spiritual enlightenment, which seemed to reveal to Böhme an ultimate nondifference, or nonduality
Nondualism
Nondualism is a term used to denote affinity, or unity, rather than duality or separateness or multiplicity. In reference to the universe it may be used to denote the idea that things appear distinct while not being separate. The term "nondual" can refer to a belief, condition, theory, practice,...

, between human beings and God. Böhme is also an important influence on the ideas of the English Romantic poet, artist and mystic William Blake
William Blake
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age...

.

Quote


"When you are art gone forth wholly from the creature [human], and have become nothing to all that is nature and creature, then you are in that eternal one, which is God himself, and then you will perceive and feel the highest virtue of love. Also, that I said whoever findes it finds nothing and all things; that is also true, for he finds a supernatural, supersensual Abyss, having no ground, where there is no place to live in; and he finds also nothing that is like it, and therefore it may be compared to nothing, for it is deeper than anything, and is as nothing to all things, for it is not comprehensible; and because it is nothing, it is free from all things, and it is that only Good, which a man cannot express or utter what it is. But that I lastly said, he that finds it, finds all things, is also true; it has been the beginning of all things, and it rules all things. If you find it, you come into that ground from whence all things proceed, and wherein they subsist, and you are in it a king over all the works of God." [The Way to Christ, 1623]

Reaction


In addition to the scientific revolution, the 17th century was a time of mystical revolution in Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. The Protestant revolution developed from Böhme and some medieval mystics. Böhme became important in intellectual circles in Protestant Europe, following from the publication of his books in England, Holland and Germany in the 1640s and 1650s. Böhme was especially important for the Millenarians and was taken seriously by the Cambridge Platonists
Cambridge Platonists
The Cambridge Platonists were a group of philosophers at Cambridge University in the middle of the 17th century .- Programme :...

 and Dutch Collegiants
Collegiants
In Christian theology, the Collegiants , also called Collegians, were an eclectic religious sect, formed in 1619 among the Arminians and Anabaptists in Holland...

. Henry More
Henry More
Henry More FRS was an English philosopher of the Cambridge Platonist school.-Biography:Henry was born at Grantham and was schooled at The King's School, Grantham and at Eton College...

 was critical of Böhme and claimed he was not a real prophet, and had no exceptional insight into metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 questions. More, for example, dismissed Opera Posthuma
Opera Posthuma
The final work of Baruch Spinoza's Opera Posthuma is a grammar of the Hebrew language, Compendium Grammaticus Lingua Hebraeae. It was published 1677.-External links:*...

by Spinoza as a return to Behmenism
Behmenism
Behmenism, also Behemenism and similar, is the English-language designation for a 17th Century European Christian movement based on the teachings of German mystic and theosopher Jakob Böhme . The term was not usually applied by followers of Böhme's theosophy to themselves, but rather was used by...

.

While Böhme was famous in Holland, England, France, Russia and America during the 17th century, he became less influential during the 18th century. A revival, however, occurred late in that century with interest from German Romantics
German Romanticism
For the general context, see Romanticism.In the philosophy, art, and culture of German-speaking countries, German Romanticism was the dominant movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. German Romanticism developed relatively late compared to its English counterpart, coinciding in its...

, who considered Böhme a forerunner to the movement. Poets such as John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

, Ludwig Tieck
Ludwig Tieck
Johann Ludwig Tieck was a German poet, translator, editor, novelist, writer of Novellen, and critic, who was one of the founding fathers of the Romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.-Early life:...

, Novalis
Novalis
Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg , an author and philosopher of early German Romanticism.-Biography:...

 and William Blake
William Blake
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age...

 found inspiration in Böhme's writings. Böhme was highly thought of by the German philosophers Baader
Franz Xaver von Baader
Franz Xaver von Baader was a German Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian.-Life:He was born in Munich, the third son of F. P. Baader, court physician to the Prince-elector of Bavaria. His brothers were both distinguished — the elder, Clemens, as an author; the second, Joseph , as an...

, Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling , later von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism, situating him between Fichte, his mentor prior to 1800, and Hegel, his former university roommate and erstwhile friend...

 and Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

. Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher, one of the creators of German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality as a whole revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.Hegel developed a comprehensive...

 went as far as to say that Böhme was "the first German philosopher."

See also

  • Behmenism
    Behmenism
    Behmenism, also Behemenism and similar, is the English-language designation for a 17th Century European Christian movement based on the teachings of German mystic and theosopher Jakob Böhme . The term was not usually applied by followers of Böhme's theosophy to themselves, but rather was used by...

  • German mysticism
    German mysticism
    German mysticism, sometimes called Dominican mysticism or Rhineland mysticism, was a late medieval Christian mystical movement, that was especially prominent within the Dominican order and in Germany. Although its origins can be traced back to Hildegard of Bingen, it is mostly represented by...

  • Christian mysticism
    Christian mysticism
    Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions...

  • Esoteric Christianity
    Esoteric Christianity
    Esoteric Christianity is a term which refers to an ensemble of spiritual currents which regard Christianity as a mystery religion, and profess the existence and possession of certain esoteric doctrines or practices, hidden from the public but accessible only to a narrow circle of "enlightened",...

  • Sophia (wisdom)
  • "The Secret Miracle
    The Secret Miracle
    "The Secret Miracle" is a short story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It was first published in the magazine Sur in February 1943.-Plot:...

    "

Works

  • Aurora: Die Morgenröte im Aufgang (unfinished
    Unfinished work
    An unfinished work is creative work that has not been finished. Its creator may have chosen never to finish it or may have been prevented from doing so by circumstances outside of their control such as death. Such pieces are often the subject of speculation as to what the finished piece would have...

    ) (1612)
  • The Three Principles of the Divine Essence (1618-1919)
  • The Threefold Life of Man (1620)
  • Answers to Forty Questions Concerning the Soul (1620)
  • The Treatise of the Incarnations: (1620)
    • I. Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ
    • II. Of the Suffering, Dying, Death and Resurrection of Christ
    • III. Of the Tree of Faith
  • The Great Six Points (1620)
  • Of the Earthly and of the Heavenly Mystery (1620)
  • Of the Last Times (1620)
  • De Signatura Rerum (1621)
  • The Four Complexions (1621)
  • Of True Repentance (1622)
  • Of True Resignation (1622)
  • Of Regeneration (1622)
  • Of Predestination (1623)
  • A Short Compendium of Repentance (1623)
  • The Mysterium Magnum (1623)
  • A Table of the Divine Manifestation, or an Exposition of the Threefold World (1623)
  • The Supersensual Life (1624)
  • Of Divine Contemplation or Vision (unfinished) (1624)
  • Of Christ's Testaments (1624)
    • I. Baptism
    • II. The Supper
  • Of Illumination (1624)
  • 177 Theosophic Questions, with Answers to Thirteen of Them (unfinished) (1624)
  • An Epitome of the Mysterium Magnum (1624)
  • The Holy Week or a Prayer Book (unfinished) (1624)
  • A Table of the Three Principles (1624)
  • Of the Last Judgement (lost) (1624)
  • The Clavis (1624)
  • Sixty-two Theosophic Epistles (1618–1624)

Books in Print

  • The Way to Christ (inc. True Repentance, True Resignation, Regeneration or the New Birth, The Supersensual Life, Of Heaven & Hell, The Way from Darkness to True Illumination) edited by William Law
    William Law
    William Law was an English cleric, divine and theological writer.-Early life:Law was born at Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire in 1686. In 1705 he entered as a sizar at Emmanuel College, Cambridge; in 1711 he was elected fellow of his college and was ordained...

    , Diggory Press ISBN 978-1-84685-791-1
  • Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, translated from the german by John Rolleston Earle, London, Constable and Company LTD, 1934.

External links