The Broken Tradition

Uncovering Errors in the Correspondence of Jacob Böhme

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  • 1 The University of Queensland Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities

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The present article documents a series of errors discovered in letters of the Lusatian theosopher Jacob Böhme (1575–1624) dating from 1621 and 1623. These errors, some of which were present in the manuscript tradition, some of which were introduced in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century printed editions, have influenced modern scholarly opinion on Böhme’s works concerning the doctrine of predestination, as well as the identity and influence of several members of his networks. This contribution aims to correct this troubling accumulation of errors by going ad fontes and re-examining the extant manuscript corpus, and uniting insights won through a thorough review of the transmission of the letters with extensive prosopographical research. This investigation highlights the need for a new edition of Böhme’s correspondence, as well as the potential textual unreliability of Theosophia Revelata (1730), the de facto standard edition of Böhme’s works.

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