Saturday, 7 July 2012

1. Jacob Boehme

French physicist Basarab Nicolescu has argued in his book Science, Meaning and Evolution that the obscure poetical cosmology of the German cobbler Jacob Boehme (1575-1624) provides us with the basis for restoring the Philosophy of Nature in our time, and hopes for a New Renaissance as the likely result. Catholic physicist Wolfgang Smith in Christian Gnosis: From St Paul to Meister Eckhart seems to concur, or at least sees in Boehme’s writings a Naturphilosophie of the deepest order.

A contemporary of Francis Bacon and follower of Paracelsus, Boehme was a gentle and devout Lutheran. A family man, with little education, around 1600 he received a remarkable illumination which became the basis for his obscure but influential visionary writings. Although he never broke from his church, the Lutheran authorities deemed him unorthodox, and as a result he was forced into an itinerant life. Boehme was an influence not only on William Blake but on Isaac Newton, and on Catholics and Protestants alike, from Franz von Baader and F.C. Oetinger to William Law and Hegel (who took from him the dialectic but appears to have misunderstood the rest), Vladimir Solovyev and Nicolas Berdyaev.

I am writing about Boehme simply because I found some notes on him in my files as I was working on my next book for Angelico Press – but can't quite see where to fit them in yet. They seemed interesting enough to make available online. In future posts I will look at some of Boehme’s key ideas, guided in part by Hans L. Martensen (1808-1884), Bishop of Denmark, who wrote a useful book on the mystic in which he tried to salvage from Boehme whatever could be reconciled with Christian orthodoxy. In fact there is quite a lot, as we shall see. But for Balthasar's critique of Boehme, you'll have to read Theo-Drama II, or wait for my book,

2. Boehme and the birth of God.
3. Boehme's myth of the Trinity.

Illustration: Jacob Böhme's House in Zgorzelec (Poland), by Varp, from Wikimedia Commons.

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