Knowledge of Boehme among English Speakers before the English Civil War

In: Daphnis
Author: Ariel Hessayon1
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This article focusses on knowledge of Boehme and his work, particularly among English speakers, before his writings had been translated into English. Accordingly, it covers the period from 1624 to 1641. Unsurprisingly, the people under discussion here – with one known exception – were foreigners, emigrants or those who had travelled abroad. Moreover, as might be expected, they were not monolingual but usually had command of Latin and sometimes German and Dutch as well. Motivations for learning about and engaging with Boehme’s texts varied widely. For some the goal was evidently to achieve Protestant church unity, or at least to be forewarned about the nature of potential sectarian dissent. For others the impulse derived from a new spirit of prophecy that had sprung forth during the Thirty Years’ War – especially following the initial victories of Gustavus Adolphus. For others still, their concern was to accommodate Boehme within Paracelsian, alchemical-medical and Rosicrucian frameworks.

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