Mike A. Zuber

Johann Jacob Zimmermann (1642–1693) is a forgotten proponent of heliocentrism in seventeenth-century Lutheran Germany. In Scriptura Sacra Copernizans (1690), he located himself within an unusual genealogy of Copernicanism, in which the usual heroes of the scientific revolution were missing. And in a pseudonymous work, Exercitatio theoricorum Copernico-coelestium (1689), there was no holding back for theological speculations. Zimmermann’s cosmology carried metaphysical and especially religious significance. Always interpreted morally and spiritually as well, light and darkness were responsible for the matter and fundamental physical forces of his world. In spite of Zimmermann’s appeal to Italian philosophers of the Renaissance, he was much more influenced by Johann Arndt and Jacob Boehme. Their contemplation of nature, and the sun in particular, was taken up by Zimmermann and carried further. According to him, light had Trinitarian properties because of which it was even identified with God. This latent cosmotheism can be placed in the context of contemporary debates on Boehme’s orthodoxy and Pietist enthusiasm.

Mike A. Zuber

Abstract

The unknown southern continent is perhaps one of the most puzzling aspects of Gerardus Mercator's otherwise strikingly modern cartography. This paper is an attempt to reconsider it in view of Renaissance cosmology and to outline two factors that led Mercator to engage with the mythical terra australis over decades: his socio-professional status as an artisan and the desire to be a philosopher, on the one hand, and the harsh business of mapmaking in the Low Countries on the other. The resulting unknown southern continent was intimately connected to the classical tradition and geocentric cosmology but also to the specific social niche Mercator was trying to establish for himself.