Thesis ID: CBB001561969

Paracelsus' Astronomia Magna (1537/38): Bible-Based Science and the Religious Roots of the Scientific Revolution (2003)


Daniel, Dane T. (Author)

Indiana University
Newman, William R.

Publication Date: 2003
Edition Details: Advisor: Newman, William R.
Physical Details: 293 pp.
Language: English

Focusing on the Astronomia Magna, the magnum opus of Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim, or Paracelsus (1493/4--1541), the dissertation provides a detailed look into Paracelsus' oft-neglected and misrepresented views on the make-up of humans and the universe, and highlights the religious values fundamental to the formation, expression, and reception of his science, Robert K. Merton and Reijer Hookyaas have helpfully pointed to salient religious factors in the development of modern science, but they overemphasize seventeenth-century English Calvinism. A century earlier, Paracelsus had molded a unique, influential, and thoroughly biblical and ethical system of the world, and with many of the same goals as the Puritans. Paracelsus---whose ideas were often referred to and even incorporated by the likes of Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Francis Bacon, and Joan Baptista van Helmont---insisted that humans were created to research, discover, and utilize nature. Book I of the Astronomia Magna, highlighting the sidereal and elemental bodies of humans, is a systematic explication of natural magic, human nature, and cosmology. There are clear alchemical and Neoplatonic sources, but the discussion is rooted in Paracelsus' Genesis exegesis. Book II---focusing on the soul and the immortal body, the latter acquired in baptism---contains a summary of Paracelsus' soteriological and eschatological views, and reiterates Paracelsus' eucharistic theology. Books I and II thus encapsulate Paracelsus' universe of two analogous realms, mortal and divine---Book IV regards the demonic. Scholars point to the influence of Paracelsus' theology in the seventeenth-century, but downplay its early reception. However, various sixteenth-century intellectuals eagerly produced Paracelsus' works despite their divisive religious content, and some of his followers adopted his spiritualism, ethics, and heterodoxy. Toxites' preface to the first edition of the Astronomia Magna (1571) is largely a summary and endorsement of Paracelsus' theology. Scholarly treatments of the Scientific Revolution, even within Paracelsus studies itself, fail to capture the unity of Paracelsus' theological and medical-natural philosophical works and ideas, hence producing incomplete and flawed interpretations. Thus, it is essential to build on the insightful work of Kurt Goldammer, Hartmut Rudolph, Allen Debus, and Charles Webster, and to explore more deeply Paracelsus' bible-based science.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 64 (2004): 4183. UMI order no. 3111854.

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Authors & Contributors
Lehmann, Hartmut
Trepp, Anne-Charlott
Shackelford, Jole R.
Principe, Lawrence M.
Telle, Joachim
Linden, Stanton J.
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Foundations of Chemistry
Medical History
Azogue: Revista Electrónica Dedicada al Estudio Histórico-Crítico de la Alquimia
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Science History Publications
AMS Press
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Science and religion
Revolutions in science
Paracelsus, Theophrast von Hohenheim
Galilei, Galileo
Boerhaave, Herman
Copernicus, Nicolaus
Helmont, Jan Baptista van
Kircher, Athanasius
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
Early modern
18th century
15th century

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