Saturday, December 21, 2019

Europe Reconsiders Jacob Boehme

"Strasbourg Inspiration" 

There are some very interesting development regarding Jacob Boehme coming from Europe. Below is an excerpt from an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine about the recent interest in Boehme. For my part I am not so interested in the clinical recitations of the various new finding from antique book shelves. Rather it is the effect after nearly 400 years since the death of the venerable Mr. Boehme that his spirit continues to exert on people. It is the quantum mysterium which captures my reverence.

In den Osten kommt das Licht [To the East Comes the Light]
Von REINER SCHWEINFURTH (International Jacob Boehme Society)
Frankfurter Allgemeine 19Aug2019

“...In addition, the first biographer of Boehme, his confidant Abraham von Franckenberg(1593-1652), published his life report here for the first time. Now a text comparison possible with the saved handwritten manuscripts, which were preserved by the upper class in Silesia. The unrefined edition is accompanied by margin notes from the editors, whoseevaluation promises previously unknown information.

All contributions to the conference in Gotha confirmed the growing international interest in Jacob Boehme the “Philosophicus Teutonicus”. Around the research center led by Martin Mulsow
the Boehme expert Lucinda Martin has created a network. In the Research library at Gotha are about 10, 000 manuscript records, many from the seventeenth century, not yet cataloged.

One of the attractions of exploring Bohemia is the discovery of the far-reaching, often subversive
ties that were already formed during his lifetime, then after his death in 1624, throughout Protestant Europe. His manuscripts were a precious commodity and many trustees profited. The pious and irrational diction of his writings remains a nuisance to positivistic-materialistic minds. Until
today.But after secularization, at least in this country, no one need fear, to be put in prison for spreading Bohemian ideas, for centuries this was different...”
* * *

I want to point out a few items in Mr Schweinfurth’s insightful essay“The pious and irrational diction of his writings remains a nuisance to positivistic/materialistic minds.” This is a very interesting sentence. Allowing for the translation and the cultural difference between the American and German audience the use of the term “...pious and irrational diction...” may be off putting to some as it may seem condescending. I don’t think it is meant that way. I believe this is the way European scholars viewed spiritual philosophy in the recent past where anything “religious” or Christian is often regarded as quaint or intellectually suspect. I think Mr Schweinfurth is attempting to bridge a generational gap here. When writing for an audience who is still mired in European anti-Christian thought where condescension is baked into the cake, Mr. Schweinfurth skillfully sidesteps existing bias but continues to move forward.

Who could blame Europeans for holding rather negative views about Christianity after centuries of war often blamed on religion when economic and territorial motives were the real causes. Between the often oppressive legacy of Roman Catholicism and the neo-Marxist pretensions espoused by John Barth (and others) it is little wonder that religious philosophy is suspected of duplicity. Boehme offers an escape from the doctrines of the past.

It is important to point out that Mr. Schweinfurth continues by emphasizing that “...positivistic-materialistic minds...” may find Boehme difficult due to the “nuisance” of troublesome abstract ideas involved in his writings and advanced concepts often out of reach to the modernist worldview. I believe Mr Schweinfurth is walking a narrow line while making an important point about Boehme at the same time not opening himself up to partisan criticism. Mr. Schweinfurth offers us this extraordinary thought “ one need fear, to be put in prison for spreading Bohemian ideas...”. Except in a clinical (or secular) environment whenever controversial spiritual ideas are discussed there seems to be an underlying element of fear just beyond peripheral vision.

Winter Solstice 2019

(original text)
Hinzu kommt, dass der erste Biograph Böhmes, sein Vertrauter Abraham von Franckenberg
(1593 bis 1652), hier zum ersten Mal seinen Lebensbericht publizierte. Nun ist ein
Textabgleich möglich mit den gesicherten handgeschriebenen Manuskripten, die in der
erweckungswilligen Oberschicht Schlesiens kursierten, gesammelt und teilweise bearbeitet
wurden. Die Karnal-Ausgabe ist mit Marginalien der Herausgeber versehen, deren
Auswertung bisher unbekannte Informationen verspricht.
Alle Beiträge der Tagung in Gotha bestätigten das international wachsende Interesse am
Philosophicus Teutonicus. Rund um das von Martin Mulsow geleitete Forschungszentrum
hat die Böhme-Kennerin Lucinda Martin ein Netzwerk gesponnen. In der
Forschungsbibliothek Gotha sind etwa 10 000 Handschriftensätze, viele aus dem siebzehnten
Jahrhundert, noch gar nicht katalogisiert.
Ein Reiz der Erforschung Böhmes besteht im Aufspüren der weitreichenden, oft subversiv
geknüpften Verbindungen, die sich schon zu seinen Lebzeiten, dann nach seinem Tod 1624,
im ganzen protestantischen Europa nachweisen lassen. Die Manuskripte waren eine kostbare
Ware, von deren Verkauf mancher Treuhänder profitierte. Die fromme und irrationale
Diktion seiner Schriften bleibt für positivistisch-materialistische Gemüter ein Ärgernis. Bis
heute. Doch nach der Säkularisierung muss wenigstens hierzulande niemand mehr fürchten,
wegen Verbreitung Böhmischer Gedanken ins Gefängnis gesteckt zu werden. Über
Jahrhunderte war dies anders.

The entire text is here:

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