"Ein Liebhaber des Mysterii, und ein grosser Verwandter desselben." Toward the life of Balthasar Walther: Kabbalist, alchemist and wandering Paracelsian physician

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Abstract

Despite the attention recently paid to Jakob Böhme's life and works, the Görlitz theosopher's most famous disciple, Balthasar Walther (1558-c.1630), remains something of a historical puzzle. Utilizing several recently rediscovered print and manuscript sources located by the author, the present article seeks to provide the first detailed biographical study of Walther, highlighting his significance to sixteenth and seventeenth century history in a myriad of contexts. Far from being merely a follower of Böhme, Walther emerges as significant in his own right as a physician, Paracelsian, Kabbalist, Weigelian, religious heretic, and distributor of magical manuscripts, whose personal networks extended across Europe and beyond. In addition to providing a biography, this article seeks to discover new avenues of enquiry in which information concerning Walther's life and thought might be uncovered and contextualized. This investigation simultaneously throws light upon Walther himself, as well as Jakob Böhme's often neglected intellectual and social Umwelt. It also points to new and entirely unexamined sources for Böhme's thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-99
Number of pages27
JournalSudhoffs Archiv
Volume94
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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