- Cabala Chymica or Chemia Cabalistica - Early Modern Alchemists and Cabala
- Volume | Issue number
- 60 | 4
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
This essay investigates the relationships between early modern alchemy and the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, following its introduction to the Christian West by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola at the end of the fifteenth century, and its promulgation by Johannes Reuchlin in the early sixteenth century. New exponents of Christian Cabala were excited by the exegetical methods of Kabbalah, and some alchemists, seeking fresh ways of interpreting enigmatic alchemical texts and the Book of Nature, experimented with novel combinations of the two practices in the hope of gaining insights into their work. While many of these figures were engaged in the broader concerns of Paracelsian philosophy, those experimenting with combinations of alchemy and Cabala nevertheless spanned the spectrum from metallic transmutation to chemical medicine. While focusing on the investigation of kabbalistic elements in alchemical texts produced by Christian authors, rather than the discussion of alchemical material in Jewish Kabbalistic sources, I also briefly consider one apparently authentic Jewish combination of alchemy and Kabbalah: the Aesch Mezareph, published by Christian Knorr von Rosenroth in the Kabbala Denudata.
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