The paper is an evaluation of differing opinions regarding the authenticity of two of Paracelsus’ works, the Astronomia Magna (1537/1538) and Brief an die Wittenberger Theologen (1525). Karl Sudhoff – the exceptionally erudite and prolific Paracelsus scholar and editor – considered Paracelsus’ letter to Luther and the Wittenberg theologians to be spurious. Others have questioned the extent to which the Astronomia Magna (often considered to be Paracelsus’ Meisterstück) should be placed among the genuine texts of the Paracelsian corpus. Based on historical and conceptual data, and focusing on Paracelsus’ theology, the author argues that both works under consideration are authentic. The study thus highlights the need to develop a diagnostic rubric for evaluating the authenticity of works in the Paracelsian oeuvre and suggests ideas toward this end on the basis of theological motifs prevalent within Paracelsus’ clearly authentic works.
This article surveys the current knowledge of the anti-Paracelsian movement from a confessional perspective. It outlines the rise of the critique of Paracelsus by academic physicians such as Conrad Gessner, Thomas Erastus’s vociferous demonization, and an ambivalent Catholic reaction. Andreas Libavius and other chymical theorists remained critical of Paracelsus’s natural philosophy while engaging aspects of his alchemy. The cumulative impact reveals a widespread anti-Paracelsian discourse, which escalated in the seventeenth century due to the growing popularity of Paracelsian spiritualism.