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Cross and Crucible: Alchemy in the Theology of Paracelsus


Gantenbein, Urs Leo (2020). Cross and Crucible: Alchemy in the Theology of Paracelsus. Ambix, 67(1):88-99.

Abstract

Paracelsus was not only a reformer of medicine with a preference for medical alchemy, but also emerged as a radical church reformer. However, he only rarely used the imagery of alchemy as a parable for theological salvation. Fire as the driving force for every alchemical process was also suitable as an image for the purification of souls. A central idea of alchemy, to transfer a substance from its still impure original state into the purified final state, was very much in line with Paracelsus’s doctrine of the Last Supper, according to which the mortal human who had descended from Adam is to be brought to a new birth through baptism with the Holy Spirit. As an alchemist, Paracelsus was keenly interested in the transfiguration of Christ, which he first explained alchemically, but later magically, probably according to the model of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.

Abstract

Paracelsus was not only a reformer of medicine with a preference for medical alchemy, but also emerged as a radical church reformer. However, he only rarely used the imagery of alchemy as a parable for theological salvation. Fire as the driving force for every alchemical process was also suitable as an image for the purification of souls. A central idea of alchemy, to transfer a substance from its still impure original state into the purified final state, was very much in line with Paracelsus’s doctrine of the Last Supper, according to which the mortal human who had descended from Adam is to be brought to a new birth through baptism with the Holy Spirit. As an alchemist, Paracelsus was keenly interested in the transfiguration of Christ, which he first explained alchemically, but later magically, probably according to the model of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Chemistry (miscellaneous)
Social Sciences & Humanities > History and Philosophy of Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:History and Philosophy of Science, Chemistry (miscellaneous)
Language:English
Date:2 January 2020
Deposited On:11 Mar 2020 14:22
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 14:50
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0002-6980
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/00026980.2020.1723944

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