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Ad fontes – On the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica

Ad fontes – On the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica

By Frans A. Janssen

Published in Quaerendo 27 (1997), p. 251-279

When the Dutch government decided in November 1994 to place the entire collection of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (BPH) – the name of the private library of Mr J.R. Ritman of Amsterdam – on the list of protected collections coming under the Cultural Heritage Act, it characterized the library as follows: ‘A very special library with great significance for scholarship, both nationally and internationally, and an irreplaceable collection of culturally and historically valuable manuscripts and incunables. This library is unique from the point of view of scholarship because it has been built up on the basis of one single binding concept, the Christian-hermetic tradition within Western cultural history. The library is the only virtually complete centre where research in the field of the Christian-hermetic tradition can be carried out.’ The library is the second library to have been designated a protected collection; the first one is the medieval Librije belonging to the St Walburgis church in Zutphen.

The above characterization points to the double importance of the library, as a book collection and as a research institute in the field of hermetic Christianity. As a collection the BPH is dedicated to the ‘ad fontes’ principle in bringing together sources: that is to say that the texts within the library’s field are collected in their most authentic forms, in the way in which authors and editors, copyists and illuminators, printers, engravers, binders and collectors have passed on these texts. The works held by the BPH include medieval and later manuscripts and first and later editions, together spanning a period of more than a thousand years. These sources are thematically related, and in this the BPH differs from most other libraries. As a research institute, the BPH catalogues and indexes and also studies these sources. This article will concentrate not so much on the many fine works from our library, but rather on the library’s theme, the collection areas and their backgrounds, and their mutual relationships.

In addition to its significance as a thematic collection bridging philosophy and religion, there is a second aspect which is illustrated by the following remark issuing from Dutch book historical circles: ‘That it is possible even in the present day to bring together an outstanding collection of old and rare books is witnessed by the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, which is entirely focussed on the development through the ages of western mysticism and spirituality. The first, and beautifully produced, special catalogue of this private collection appeared in 1990.1 This remark points to the significance of the BPH as an example of private book collecting, a tradition which is modestly represented in the Netherlands (e.g. Meerman, Westreenen – both collections now housed in the Museum of the Book in The Hague), and which was pursued on a wider scale in the United States (e.g. Pierpont Morgan, Huntington – now independent institutions). Private book collectors aim to bring together treasures from the world of manuscripts and printed books. As the library’s collection of works on hermetic Christianity also incorporates works which belong in each collection (e.g. Plato, Books of Hours), the library’s activities are part of this tradition.


To begin with the name of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica: what is understood by ‘hermetica’ or ‘hermetic philosophy’? In a broader sense it is used to cover the entire field of esoteric thought, but in a more specific sense it refers to the philosophy contained in a number of short treatises, which were originally composed in Greek in Alexandria between the first and the third century C.E. and which are attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. There is no actual author behind this name; the figure of Hermes Trismegistus is an assimilation of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Toth. During the Middle Ages these Greek texts were known (amongst others to the church fathers Lactantius and Augustine) and influenced diverse Latin works, but in the Renaissance these texts also experienced a real revival, in particular when they were translated into Latin by Marsilio Ficino at the request of Cosimo de Medici, which made them much more accessible; the first edition of this translation appeared in 1471, and a great many editions and translations were to follow. They are collectively known to scholars as the Corpus Hermeticum.

What is contained in these texts to which the name of the BPH refers? The answer to this question is on the one hand simple, on the other hand complex. Simple, because there exists a good recent English translation of the Corpus Hermeticum with excellent commentaries; the BPH’s own publishing house for that matter brought out a scholarly Dutch translation with commentary some years ago.2 Complex, because hermetic philosophy cannot be explained in a few words. Today we characterize these texts as religious-philosophical treatises, originating in the Hellenistic period, and revealing Greek (Platonism), Judaeo-Christian (the Bible, in particular Genesis) and Egyptian influences (mystery religions). In as far as they were familiar with them, the Middle Ages opposed the world of thought behind these texts, but the Renaissance – in particular due to the Latin translation already mentioned above – saw in them revelations of the Godhead, older than those of Christ, older than those of Plato (whose works were also considered to belong to the divine revelation), and sometimes even older than Moses; the Corpus Hermeticum was considered to be part of the divine revelation which was to find its completion in the New Testament. The historian of religions Mircea Eliade spoke about ‘the thirst among the humanists for a primordial revelation which would permit them to welcome Plato and Hermes the Egyptian into the bosom of Christianity.’ It was not until 1614 that the philologist Isaac Casaubon was to demonstrate that these works attributed to Hermes Trismegistus were in fact written in the first centuries after Christ, and this is still the current view. Incidentally, in Egypt in 1945, near Nag Hammadi, fragments were found of Hermetic texts in Coptic which were composed in the fourth century; all Greek manuscripts which have been preserved are fourteenth-century copies.

The following may serve to characterize an aspect of the philosophy of the Corpus Hermeticum: ‘The human on earth is a mortal god, god in heaven is an immortal human.4 This idea is connected with a second passage, taken from the Asclepius, one of the texts by Hermes Trismegistus which, strictly speaking, does not belong to the Corpus Hermeticum because it has a different textual history (it is only known in a Latin translation): ‘Because of this, Asclepius, a human being is a great wonder, a living thing to be worshipped and honored: for he changes his nature into a god’s, as if he were a god; he knows the demonic kind inasmuch as he recognizes that he originated among them; he despises the part of him that is human nature, having put his trust in the divinity of his other part. How much happier is the blend of human nature!’5 The first part of the quote (‘a human being is a great wonder’) has become famous because it has been used in the preface of what has been termed the supreme manifesto of the Renaissance: Pico della Mirandola’s Oratio de hominis dignitate (On the dignity of man), written in 1487, first edition 1496: ‘I have read in the records of the Arabians, that Abdul the Saracen, on being asked what thing on, so to speak, the world’s stage, he viewed as most greatly worthy of wonder, answered that he viewed nothing more wonderful than man. And Mercury’s “a great wonder, Asclepius, is man!” agrees with that opinion.’6 In his treatise Pico develops the idea of man’s possibilities, placed between ‘high’ and ‘low’, with reference to Plato, Pythagoras, Moses and others. What we see in this Oratio – and also in other authors of the Renaissance who were influenced by Hermeticism – is a desire for the union between philosophy and religion, a connection between notions which to us are opposite. The terms used in this connection are ‘docta religio’ (learned religion) and ‘pia philosophia’ (pious philosophy), and in this interplay of opposites we see the desire for a connection between elements from Ancient philosophy and Christianity, perhaps I might say: between Plato and Hermes Trismegistus on the one hand and Moses and Christ on the other. Theologia Platonica [The platonic theology], the title of the chief work of Ficino, the translator of the Corpus Hermeticum, who has already been mentioned above, also illustrates that connection.

In order to characterize the world of thought of hermetic philosophy I give another quotation, this time from a work attributed to Hermes Trismegistus (but actually dating to the eleventh century), the Liber XXIV philosophorum [The book of the 24 philosophers]: ‘God is an infinite sphere, the centre of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere’.7 This hermetic statement, too, would not easily be found in a work by the Pope of Rome, nor would it be found in the works of Luther or Calvin. An entire study has been devoted to this sentence and its context,8 which has been used and adapted by a succession of medieval and Renaissance authors (the list, incidentally, could easily be enlarged). Among the authors who have written about this hermetic sentence are historians such as Vincent of Beauvais, mystics such as Eckhart and Suso, theologians such as Albertus Magnus, hermeticists such as Robert Fludd, writers such as the authors of the Roman de la Rose and Pascal, but also someone from Plantin’s circle: Guy le Fèvre de la Boderie, in a poem dedicated to the great Antwerp printer.9

To illustrate the value attached in the Renaissance to the works of Hermes Trismegistus, I draw attention to a remark by the sixteenth-century spiritual reformer Sebastian Franck. He translated the entire Corpus Hermeticum together with the Asclepius into German (the translation was never printed, we only have a manuscript version).10 In his compilation Die guldin Arch, printed in 1538, he gives a paraphrase of the first chapter of the Corpus and notes: ‘I have read Hermes Trismegistus with admiration, and have not found his equal in Plato nor in any other philosopher. He contains all that a Christian needs to know’, and he calls him ‘this Egyptian Moses’.11 This is illustrative of the reception of the Corpus in the Renaissance: Franck says that a Christian finds sufficient spiritual nourishment in the Corpus Hermeticum, a text in which Christ is not even mentioned.

Regarding the importance attached to the hermetic writings, we also have a commentary from a rather unexpected and unsuspected angle, which is that of a sceptic and freethinker, the seventeenth-century librarian Gabriel Naudé. The latter says in his well-known manual for the librarian, Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque of 1627, in the chapter on the arrangement of books, that in the philosophy section the works of Hermes Trismegistus should be placed first, followed by the works of Plato and Aristotle, in the same way as bibles should be placed first in the theology section: because, he says, in each section the most universal and oldest works should precede all others.12

I may now perhaps state my point more exactly: hermetic philosophy is part of Renaissance culture. This insight is relatively young. In Burckhardt’s Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien, the classical study on the Renaissance published in 1860, we find only a first intimation of this idea. Although he does mention Platonism, the name Hermes Trismegistus does not occur in his book. He calls Platonism, which, just as the related Hermeticism, experienced a revival in the Renaissance, ‘a second and higher rebirth of Antiquity’ and concludes his book with the remark that as a result of the marriage of medieval mysticism and Platonism, the Italian Renaissance became ‘the guiding lady of our new era’ – in my view momentous statements, issuing from his convictions about existence, which he felt was based on metaphysics and religion.13 It was not until after Burckhardt that historians of the Renaissance became aware of Hermes Trismegistus and hermetic philosophy; of the number of scholars who have been pioneers in this field I shall only mention two: the German-American philologist Paul Oskar Kristeller, who published amongst others studies on Ficino,14 and the art historian of the Warburg Institute Frances Yates, whose seminal magnum opus Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic tradition has already been mentioned earlier (see note 3).

Since then virtually every book that has been published on the Renaissance and on humanism mentions hermetic philosophy and its influence on culture. As an example I quote Sem Dresden’s L’humanisme et la renaissance of 1967, which – based on secondary literature, including Kristeller and Yates – opens with some hundred pages in which hermetic philosophy and related movements such as neoplatonism are posited as having been at the roots of the Renaissance.

The Warburg Institute mentioned above (now part of London University), which is devoted to the study of the survival of classical antiquity in the Renaissance, attempts amongst others to trace elements in the art of the Renaissance which derive from hermetic philosophy. Edgar Wind, a Fellow of the renowned institute, gave Botticelli’s Prima vera, painted in 1477-78, a neoplatonic-hermetic interpretation. Likewise, Dürer’s well-known engraving Melencolia of 1514 has been explained by fellows of the Warburg Institute on the basis of the world of thought underpinning hermetic philosophy.15

In this context I should like to draw attention to two representations of the figure of Hermes. The first is the mosaic in the floor of the Cathedral of Siena, where we can also find inscribed a quotation from the Asclepius. Giovanni da Stefano, who made this work of art in 1488, did not really thus introduce a pagan element into a catholic edifice. According to Renaissance beliefs, God also revealed himself in the works of Hermes Trismegistus, and furthermore the location of this particular mosaic is symbolical: it is the first mosaic which can be seen in the centre aisle as one enters the church through the main entrance; then follow, continuing in the direction of the altar, representations from the Old Testament, while the altar of course represents the New Testament (furthermore we find, on either side of the centre aisle, Sybils, pagan female prophets, whose prophecies were also interpreted in a Christian sense). We see here the revelations in the works of Hermes Trismegistus foreshadowing the revelations in the Bible.16 The vault paintings of ca. 1495 in the St Walburgis Church in Zutphen (the Netherlands), which include representations of the Sybils and of Hermes Trismegistus, fulfill a similar function.

The second representation is a painting by Luca Horfei on a pillar in the Vatican Library (called Sala Sistina after Pope Sixtus V who had this room built in 1587), in which Hermes is depicted with an alphabet attributed to him. The caption identifies Hermes with the Egyptian god Toth, who is traditionally credited with the invention of the holy Egyptian characters. Hermes, as well as for that matter Moses, Esdras, Pythagoras and others, are here placed in the context of a hermetically tinged cabbala, in which characters have a magical function.


What, then, is the position of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in this context? The hermetic tradition which has been outlined above has provided an important enough basis for the BPH to have been named after it. Some would prefer the term ‘gnosis’ for the religious and philosophical traditions which developed at the beginning of our era in the Hellenistic world, one of the most important characteristics of gnosis being the recognition of intuition as the source of knowledge, through which man may achieve a union with the divine. Gnosis is strongly associated with hermetic philosophy, the primary collection area of the BPH. There are three other, related collection areas, which can also be linked to the tradition of gnosis. Mysticism, both the medieval stream (with authors such as Meister Eckhart, Suso and Ruusbroec) as well as the later protestant stream (with Jacob Böhme as the major representative), can be regarded as the leavening of the hermetic-Platonic tradition throughout Christianity. Alchemy, having as one of its most fundamental works the Tabula smaragdina [The emerald table], a short work attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, is concerned not so much with the practical art of making gold as well as with a hermetically tinged study of nature and the cosmos and the relationship between these two; it is not so much a chemical, but rather a spiritual matter: many alchemists equate the much sought-after ‘philosophers’ stone’ with Christ. The fourth collection area is the early seventeenth-century spiritual reformation movement of the Rosicrucians, which – as will appear further on – was greatly influenced by the other three traditions.

These four areas are the main fields of the BPH, while there are also a number of related subsidiary areas such as Cathars, Freemasons and the legend of the Grail.18 All these (and many more) areas have been described in The encyclopedia of religion, the impressive reference work which appeared in sixteen volumes under the editorship of Mircea Eliade in 1987. As the philosopher Ernst Cassirer remarked with regard to the Warburg Library: in essence it is not so much the collection of books, not even the separate collection areas, but the cohesive principle underlying it all.19

In 1984 the private collection of J.R. Ritman was transformed into a scholarly institution. This means that the BPH, like any other similar institute, engages in three activities. First of all there is the collecting of works, of enlarging the thematic collection of works on hermetic Christianity. Next comes cataloguing and indexing, i.e. making the collection accessible to the interested public; this is realized not only by means of a computerized catalogue, but also by means of elaborate bibliographical and cultural-historical descriptions of the library’s holdings in the form of (exhibition) catalogues and other forms of academic research (studies, translations). The librarian of the BPH, historian of ideas Dr Carlos Gilly, plays a major role in the library’s scholarly research. His wide-ranging research into the history of the Early Rosicrucians and their ideas has already yielded a number of special studies, and will be crowned by an annotated bibliography. The BPH’s publishing house ‘In de Pelikaan’ was set up to accommodate the scholarly activities of the library; a small number of its publications is mentioned here in the notes. Finally there is the activity of documenting: In the context of his research, Dr Gilly has brought together material held elsewhere by other libraries and archives in the hermetic-Christian field: not only the titles, but also the works themselves are collected in the form of microfilms or microfiches (and also already in a digital format). The virtual library is now not far away.


Following the principle of the BPH, which is that of an eternal return ‘ad fontes’, to the sources, to the manuscripts and printed works in which successive generations have laid down the texts of hermetic Christianity, I should like to demonstrate the library’s thematic approach by means of seven examples; at the same time I shall on each occasion make clear what is done with these books which are so important in cultural-historical and scholarly respect.

I shall begin with the Corpus Hermeticum, a choice which, after the previous discussion, should come as no surprise. Why does the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica collect as many manuscripts and printed works as possible of this text which, after all, is also available in excellent modern editions, both in the original Greek and in English, French, German and Dutch translations? Two reasons may be mentioned here. First of all these texts, continually copied and/or printed, testify to the interest shown in this tradition during successive periods and by various persons. But there is also a philological motif: there is no definitive text of the Corpus Hermeticum, we can only dispose of mansucripts, printed editions, adaptations, commentaries, which each time tell a different story, both in a factual sense (the letter of the text) and in a hermeneutical sense (the cultural-historical aspect). Each new generation of interested readers must therefore reconsider these sources.

As has been said, the Corpus Hermeticum appeared in print for the first time in 1471, in a Latin translation by Ficino; it was printed in Treviso, in the printing-house of Gerard de Lisa, a printer originating from Flanders. But rather than dwelling on the BPH’s copy of this incunable, I prefer to discuss one of the many editions, adaptations and translations, with or without annotations, which the library holds, namely the ninth edition, which appeared in Paris in 1505, printed by Henri Estienne and edited by the Christian humanist Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples: The actual Corpus Hermeticum is here called Pimander or Liber de potestate et sapientia Dei [The book of the power and wisdom of God], which is in fact the title of the first treatise of the Corpus. A second text by Hermes has been added, the Asclepius, and a third one, the Crater Hermetis [The mixing bowl of Hermes] by Ludovico Lazarelli, a later hermetic text belonging to the Renaissance. Lefèvre added comments and a few marginal notes to these editions of Hermes. One of those marginal notes is particularly striking: the editor had the words ‘Lapsus Hermetis’ (‘an error of Hermes’) printed in the margin of a passage in the Asclepius. This caution to the reader is put next to a passage in which the text, in a religious sense, ventures beyond the Corpus Hermeticum: it contains magical elements claiming that man can create gods through magical acts, a dangerous opinion in a purely Christian setting and which Lefèvre could not pass over without a warning. Although Augustine had already condemned this passage, one is inclined to think that the humanist and admirer of hermetic philosophy in Lefèvre was here corrected by the Christian and follower of the Devotio Moderna. In the text of the third work, by Lazarelli, such magical passages are, incidentally, interpreted in a Christian sense – another solution to the problem which this aspect of hermetic philosophy posed to Christian humanists (two years later Symphorien Champier provides an alternative way out: the magical passages were to have been interpolations by the Latin translator). Furthermore, in his comments Lefèvre continually points to the parallels between the works of Hermes Trismegistus and the Bible: he appropriates the Corpus Hermeticum and the Asclepius, he renders Hermes acceptable to Christianity, he presents Hermes as the pagan prophet of Christian revelation, and thus places himself in the Renaissance tradition which I have indicated above. Thus this ninth edition has its own special place amongst the ‘fontes’ collected by the BPH.

A book with such an undogmatic character was of course also printed in the Netherlands, where in the seventeenth century works of all manner of dissidents could more or less be published freely. We know of two Dutch translations in three different editions. The first is tucked away in a description of Cornelis Drebbel’s perpetuum mobile: Wonder-vondt van de eeuwighe bewegingh…Ooc mede by gevoeght een Boeck Pymander, beschreven van Mercurius driemael de grootste [Marvellous discovery of the perpetual motion…Also added a Book Pymander, written by the Thrice-Greatest Mercury], printed in Alkmaar in 1607; only one copy is known, now in Leiden. The BPH does own a copy of a second translation, acquired from the Theosophical Society in Amsterdam: Sesthien boecken van den voor-treffelijcken ouden philosooph Hermes Tris-Megistus [Sixteen books of the eminent ancient philosopher Hermes Trismegistus], published in Amsterdam in 1643 by Ysbrant Ryvertsz and printed by Nicolaas van Ravesteyn: In this book we find of course the highly characteristic sentence on the mortal god and the immortal human which I quoted earlier from the recent English translation (p. 107, par. 98). What is striking in the Dutch translation of 1643 is the use of a remarkable hyphen: it is clearly a division mark between parts of a compound which individually also carry meaning, such as Tris-Megistus (=thrice greatest). The background to this idiosyncratic use of a hyphen must be sought in the person of the man behind this book, who in the epilogue refers to himself with the initials A.W.V.B. He is the Amsterdam merchant Abraham Willemsz van Beyerland, an idealistic mecenas who brought together texts in the fields of Hermetica and mysticism, many of which he translated himself, while he also carried the costs of publication. He is the translator of the Corpus Hermeticum, he financed the compositorial and printing expenses, and he is also responsible for this so remarkable division mark, which – as it was not a standard item in the typecase – had to be cast especially for the printer. Apart from this work and the second edition of 1652, it is used exclusively in a series of editions of the works of the German mystic Jacob Böhme which Van Beyerland commissioned from the printer Van Ravesteyn at his own expense in 1642. The Amsterdam mecenas may have encountered this typographical mark in a few French hermetic printed works of the sixteenth century, in particular in the French translation of the Corpus Hermeticum by Gabriel du Préau from 1549, where it occurs once or twice. It can also be found in works by the Cabbalist Guillaume Postel, and is a mark used in alchemy. Eventually it goes back to a hyphen in classical Latin. The Amsterdam University Library holds a special, interleaved copy of Van Beyerland’s Dutch translation of the Corpus Hermeticum, which is interspersed with extensive comments and also drawings by Reinier de Graaf (1674-1717, son of the physician of the same name); the BPH has made a start with a study of these commentaries.

As has been mentioned above, the printer of this book, Nicolaas van Ravesteyn, printed a number of mystical works for Van Beyerland. A number of Amsterdam printers followed in his wake and specialized in the production of hermetical, mystical and alchemical works, in particular of authors living in Amsterdam, such as Comenius; here I shall only mention Johannes Janssonius (who may perhaps also have been behind the pseudonym ‘Hans Fabel’), Henricus Betkius, Johannes Janssonius van Waesberge, Jan Rieuwertsz, Henricus Wetstein. In many cases these book producers were supported by Amsterdam patrons: Van Beyerland, father and son De Geer, Coenraad van Beuningen and also a non-Amsterdammer, the Arnhem mayor Gozewijn Huygens. A study of these patrons interested in hermetic Christianity and their printers, would be an appropriate addition to the research into cultural patronage in early times which, witnessing the influential study of Peter Burke on the Italian Renaissance as well as studies on the printer Jenson and the painter Saenredam – to name but a few examples – is very much in the focus of interest nowadays.

The next example also concerns Van Beyerland. It was he who played a crucial role in spreading the works of the protestant mystic Jacob Böhme. During the life of this ‘Teutonic Theosopher’ as he came to be known posthumously, only one short work appeared, in 1624, incidentally without his authorization. However, the circulation of his works on a large scale began in Amsterdam, and through the offices of Van Beyerland. Between 1632 and his death in 1648, he collected a large number of manuscripts, both autographs by Böhme as well as copies by others, which had been supplied to him – often various copies of the same text – by followers of the mystical author. Van Beyerland translated the larger part of those works into Dutch and sponsored the publication of editions in Dutch as well as in the original German. We owe the preservation of the works of Böhme to him. One of the manuscripts in his possession finally returned after many peregrinations to Amsterdam in 1993, to the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. It concerns an early copy of what may perhaps be called Böhme’s magnum opus: Mysterium magnum, oder Erklärung über das erste Buch Mosis [Mysterium magnum, or an exposition of the first book of Moses], written in 1623. What follows is based on preliminary research. Van Beyerland at one point owned four manuscript copies of this work, two of which (including this one) were copied by Carl and Michael von Ender; this manuscript in any case reached him shortly before 1640. In 1680, a few decades after Van Beyerland’s death, his heirs turned over all Böhme manuscripts to the Arnhem mayor Gozewijn Huygens, mentioned earlier, who placed them at the disposal of Johann Georg Gichtel, the editor of the 1682 edition of the collected works of Böhme. After Huygens’s death, they remained in Dutch hands until 1728, when Isaak Enschedé saw to it that they were placed in a circle of German Böhme adepts, who incidentally did not carry them to Germany until around 1750. They came to rest in Linz, where they were described by Böhme’s bibliographer, Buddecke, in 1934, although he was not allowed to reveal their whereabouts in his published work. Part of the collection was seized by the Gestapo in 1941, and later this manuscript was taken to Münich, from where it disappeared at the end of the war, to resurface at auction in New York in 1993 and finally return to Amsterdam.

It can easily be established that this manuscript is an apograph, as we know Böhme’s hand from a number of autographs kept in the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. But this manuscript has two very important features: it served as printer’s copy for the first, anonymously published, edition of 1640, and it has notes in Dutch in the margins. To begin with the first aspect: we are dealing with a manuscript which in 1640 served as copy in a printing-house. This can be established immediately by means of certain signs pencilled in red in the margin, accompanied by underlining in the text: Occasionally one can also find dashes in the text which relate to calculation, i.e. determining the envisaged amount of paper necessary for printing. The former signs in the margins are so-called compositor’s marks, which the compositor put in the margins of his copy each time he had made up a page, so that he could be sure of a correlation between printer’s copy and printed text. On page 68 of the copy, for instance, we read in the margin ‘5 H 61’: this is precisely the place where in the printed edition of 1640 page 61 begins, which is page 5 of gathering H: ‘und die Sternen/hauchen ein Geistlich Wesen auss sich’ [and the stars do breathe forth a spiritual essence out of themselves) (see for the printed edition]. This quotation, incidentally, is representative of Böhme’s recondite style: the description of the creation by means of alchemical imagery which Böhme offers in this book, is illustrative of this abstruse text. Further research might be able to demonstrate that these signs could be casting-off marks, noted down with an eye to setting by formes. Whatever the case may be, we have here a rare example of copy used in the Netherlands in the first half of the seventeenth century, although the question remains which printing-house composed and printed the text, because the published text does not give the printer’s name or place of publication. As has been said, Van Ravesteyn did print for Van Beyerland, but the typography of the edition of 1640 does not resemble the products of his press. Together with Bruckner, the bibliographer of German-language work printed in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, one might suggest the printer Johannes Janssonius, also from Amsterdam, who earlier, in 1634, had printed Jacob Böhme’s Aurora in a related typography.

In the margin of the manuscript we find Dutch-language notes made by the first Dutch owner: Van Beyerland. Textually, both the manuscript and the printed edition are somewhat disappointing; shortly after 1640 Van Beyerland received a superior manuscript from the Böhme disciple Abraham van Franckenberg together with a list of corrections made on the basis of the 1640 edition, and the Amsterdammer had to admit: ‘the printed Mysterium Magnum, in German, is full of copying and printing errors.’ Nevertheless, this manuscript is extremely important among the ‘fontes’ of the BPH, which possesses circa 200 editions of Böhme’s works prior to 1800 in circa 400 copies.

The fourth work which I should like to comment on is the famous Poliphilus, the full title of which is Hypnerotomachia Poliphili [The battle in the dream of Poliphilus], by Francesco Colonna, printed by Aldus Manutius in Venice in 1499: 36 Although renowned, the work is by no means rare: Grolier owned five copies and nowadays in the Netherlands alone there are five copies. 37 The book is famous for its typography: ‘the most beautifully printed book of all times’ is a qualification often heard, and indeed the letters, initials, the layout of the page and the clear woodcuts compose a typographical jewel. And yet this is not the reason why this book can be found in the BPH. Four other grounds for its presence in the BPH may be advanced. The fame of this book also rests on the text, written in Italian: it is a so-called Bildungsroman, an adventure story in which the hero, Poliphilus, becomes purified. The story draws its inspiration from the mythology, archeology, art and architecture of Antiquity; it includes hieroglyphs which are considered to be mysterious, as well as a number of neoplatonic elements and Christian symbols. The story also lends itself to an alchemistical interpretation, as was provided by the French alchemist Jacques Gohory, who was involved in the French translation printed in 1546, 1554 and 1561; it is also no coincidence that a French alchemist, Béroalde de Verville, published an adaptation in 1600 of this translation (all these French editions are in the BPH). 38 Research has also yielded that this symbolical novel has influenced one of the so-called Rosicrucian Manifestos, the symbolical tale Chymische Hochzeit [The chymical wedding] by Johann Valentin Andreae, which was published in 1616 (see below). A special reason for acquiring the copy of the Poliphilus which came into the BPH’s possession some ten years ago was its provenance: on the second title-page: former owner wrote his name: ‘Orontii Finaei Regii Mathematicarum professoris’; ‘Oronce Fine, Royal Professor in Mathematics’ (at the Collège de France). The French mathematician and astronomer Oronce Fine (1494-1555) himself also designed initials and ornaments in the style of the Renaissance and was therefore undoubtedly also interested in this typographical masterpiece. But this is not all: Fine, too, was an alchemist and was therefore interested in a number of special features of the contents of the book.

Bookbindings from the library of Duodo are not rare. 40 The late sixteenth-century diplomat Pietro Duodo brought together a fine travelling library bound in Parisian bindings, of which more than 130 have survived. They were bound for him during his term as Venetian ambassador at the court of Henry IV. The BPH owns one work, not because of the extraordinary binding but because of its interesting contents: the letters on the back read: ‘Dion. Areop. Iambl.’: It is a Sammelband containing two editions. First of all an edition of the Opera of pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, to which texts by Hieronymus and other early Christian authors were added (Lyon, G. Rouillé, 1585). Secondly an edition of De mysteriis by Jamblichus, to which a series of works by Proclus and other neo-Platonic authors as well as the Corpus Hermeticum are added (Lyon, J. de Tournes, 1577); this edition, also based on earlier editions, rightly places Hermes Trismegistus in the neo-Platonic tradition. What Duodo did when he ordered these two editions to be put together in a Sammelband, is in fact providing an interpretation: he links early Christian theology with philosophy from late Antiquity, he considers Platonism to be allied to Christianity (Dionysius Areopagita already tried to unify both). Duodo, wishing to establish a union between theology and philosophy, acts like a Renaissance man with an interest in Hermetica.

My next example does not concern a famous typographical masterpiece, but an anonymous and rare pamphlet, of which the BPH possesses the fourth known copy. It is one of the many responses to the appearance of the Rosicrucians in the early seventeenth century: Examen sur l’inconnue et nouvelle caballe des Freres de la Croix Rosee [Investigation concerning the unknown and new cabal of the Brothers of the Rosy Cross]: published in Paris in 1623 by Pierre de la Fosse, but not printed by him, as the word ‘pour’ indicates. Such occasional publications survive their own day only when they find their way into a large library soon after publication and furthermore when they are included in a Sammelband together with other similar minor printed work. The former happened with this little book – the foliation ‘280’ etc. added in pen points to this fact – but later it must have been lifted from the volume. Two of the four known copies are held by the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris (Gabriel Naudé, mentioned earlier, was its librarian between 1642 and 1652) are in a Sammelband. It may also be noted that inclusion in a Sammelband changes the character of this work: from a polemical pamphlet it is raised to the status of historical source material. One of these two copies has a peculiarity which presents us with a problem: it is printed from the same type as the other copies, but has in the imprint instead of ‘pour Pierre de la Fosse’ the words ‘chez David Ferrand’. This means we are dealing with a shared edition, a print run divided amongst the actual publisher (Fosse) and the printer (the printer-poet David II Ferrand in Rouen). In order to divide the edition between the two, the printing press was stopped after a number of copies, the name was changed (at the same time corrections in page number 3 and 5 were carried out) and the printing continued. This is a regular phenomenon in the case of expensive products, but such is not the case for this pamphlet; we must therefore assume that the printer wished to be known as fellow-distributor.

Who were these Rosicrucians and what is the pamphlet about? A number of new documents concerning the Christian reformation movement of the Roscirucians have in the past decades been brought together by Dr Carlos Gilly. When comparing his publications with previous studies, notably with a well-known study by Frances Yates, 43 one can see how much has been gained; only now has the world of the Early Rosicrucians been fully charted. The Rosicrucians leapt into public awareness in Germany at the beginning of the seventeenth century by means of three works, which we now call the Rosicrucian Manifestos: Fama Fraternitatis [The Fame of the Fraternity], Confessio Fraternitatis [The Confession of the Fraternity] and Chymische Hochzeit [The chymical wedding]; they appeared anonymously, but it has been established that the Lutheran Johann Valentin Andreae was the author. The latter work, as has been stated earlier, was influenced by the symbolical novel Poliphilus. 44 There are various modern editions of these Manifestos, including editions for a wider audience than the historically interested readers: a fact which shows that these texts still inspire today. 45 In these writings, the Rosicrucians called for a spiritual reformation of religion, philosophy and the sciences, drawing on mysticism, alchemy and hermetic philosophy. These programmatic Manifestos provoked a flood of written and printed responses, both for and against: all of them are collected by the BPH. One of those responses, a very dismissive one, was written by the famous French librarian Gabriel Naudé, whom we encounter here once more. In his work Instruction a la France sur la verité de l’histoire des Freres de la Roze-Croix [Instruction to France concerning the truth of the history of the Brothers of the Rosy Cross], published in 1623, the same year in which the anonymous Examen appeared, he shows himself to be well-informed in the sense that he places the Rosicrucians in the context of hermetic philosophy and mentions the name of Hermes Trismegistus. There is also internal evidence in the text of the Manifestos to show that Andreae knew works of hermetic authors such as Paracelsus; 46 he mentions Hermes once, in the Chymische Hochzeit: ‘Hermes Princeps’ (‘Hermes the Soveraign’, of the philosophers), but a reference to the Corpus Hermeticum is lacking. And yet early Rosicrucians knew the works of Hermes Trismegistus, first of all indirectly through their reading of authors who quoted and used the Corpus, but also directly, because we know for instance that in the library of Christian Besold, one of the inspiring personalities behind the Rosicrucians, there were three versions of the Corpus Hermeticum, two printed editions and one manuscript version. Like Naudé’s Instruction, the Examen is very negative about the new reformation movement, although it takes off from a different angle: the anonymous author is ‘most Catholic’ and discusses the ‘Bande infernalle’ [the hellish band], as he calls his fellow-Christians, followers of the Manifestos: ‘Le principal de cet abominable College est Sathan’ [foremost amongst this abominable college is Satan]. Not only because of this fierce opposition, but also because a number of initiators, in particular Andreae himself, later dissociated themselves from the brotherhood, the Rosicrucians did not develop into a large movement. Their ideas, however, influenced both theosophical literature as well as Freemasonry in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. There was a revival of interest in the twentieth century as a result of the anthroposophical movement.

For my last example I shall return to the late Middle Ages and the Netherlands, to one of the many Books of Hours from the collection: a Dutch-language manuscript, produced around 1475 in Delft (BPH 56, 47 It is a beautifully illuminated manuscript on vellum, but, as with the Poliphilus, this book is not in the BPH for purely esthetical reasons. Books of Hours, containing prayers based on psalms and other religious texts which were read at certain hours during the day, were not meant to be used in church or convent, but were meant to serve the private devotion of laymen; they can be regarded as expressions of Christian spirituality. Furthermore Geert Grote, the founder of the spiritual reformation movement for laymen, the Devotio Moderna (which arose in the late fourteenth century), introduced in his vernacular Book of Hours a chapter entitled ‘The Hours of the Eternal Wisdom’ : ‘Hier beghint die ghetide der ewiger wijsheit’; Here begin the hours of the eternal wisdom). His adaptation of the Book of Hours was immensely popular: some three hundred manuscripts have survived carrying this addition, of which this copy is one. Grote derived this chapter from Cursus de aeterna sapientia [Course of the eternal wisdom], part of Horologium sapientiae [The Hourwork of Wisdom], the main work of the great German mystic Heinrich Seuse or Suso, who is also well represented in the BPH in both manuscript and printed form. Because of this addition, the Dutch Book of Hours acquires a mystical dimension, appropriate to stimulate the ‘fervour of the heart’ so sought after by the Devotio Moderna movement. 48 This purely mystical aspect forms the major reason for including this Dutch Book of Hours in the BPH’s collection.

My brief discussion of seven ‘fontes’ – examples of the source material collected by the BPH – can obviously afford only a glimpse of the library and only sheds some light on the hermetic-Christian component of our culture. Nevertheless I hope that these observations may serve to clarify the motives underlying the library’s existence.

(This is the text of a lecture delivered in 1995 and 1996.)


1 O.S. Lankhorst and P.G. Hoftijzer, Drukkers, boekverkopers en lezers in Nederland tijdens de Republiek (The Hague 1995), p. 45.

2 Scholarly editions of the Greek text: Corpus Hermeticum. Ed. with French tr. A.D. Nock and A.-J. Festugière. 4 vols (Paris 1945-54; reprinted several times); Hermetica. Ed. with English tr. W. Scott. 4 vols (Oxford 1924-36; repr. 1985). Recent English translation: Hermetica. The Greek ‘Corpus Hermeticum’ and the Latin ‘Asclepius’. English transl. B.P. Copenhaver (New York 1992). Recent German translation: Das Corpus Hermeticum Deutsch. Ed. C. Colpe and J. Holzhausen (Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt 1997). The Dutch translation published by the BPH: Corpus Hermeticum. Tr. R. van den Broek and G. Quispel. 5th ed. (Amsterdam 2003).
An English version with an elaborate esoteric commentary has been included in: J. van Rijckenborgh, The Egyptian Arch-Gnosis and its call in the eternal present. 4 vols (Haarlem 1982).

3 See in addition to Copenhaver (note 2) also F.A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the hermetic tradition (London 1964), chapters 1-2; J.-P. Mahé, Hermès en Haute-Egypte. 2 vols (Québec 1978-82). The quotation from Eliade can be found in his No souvenirs. Journal 1957-1969 (London 1978), p. 173.

4 Tr. Copenhaver, p. 36.

5 Tr. Copenhaver, p. 69. A Dutch translation was published by the BPH: Asclepius. Tr. G. Quispel (Amsterdam 1996).

6 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, De dignitate hominis. Ed. with German transl. E. Garin (Bad Homburg etc. 1968), p. 26-7; English translation: On the dignity of man. Tr. C. Glenn Wallis. 6th pr. (Indianapolis 1977), p. 3.

7 Le livre des XXIV philosophes. Transl. by F. Hudry (Grenoble 1989), pp. 95-8.

8 D. Mahnke, Unendliche Sphäre und Allmittelpunkt (Halle 1937; repr. 1966); cf. S.K. Heninger, Touches of sweet harmony (San Marino 1974), p. 111 and n. 92.

9 Supplément à la correspondance de Cristophe Plantin. Ed. M. van Durme (Anvers 1955), p. 325.

10 (C. Gilly), Cimelia Rhodostaurotica. Die Rosenkreuzer im Spiegel der zwischen 1610 und 1660 entstandenen Handschriften und Drucke. Ausstellung der Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica Amsterdam und der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. 2nd rev. ed. (Amsterdam 1995), p. 3.

11 S. Franck, Die Guldin Arch (Augsburg, Heinrich Steiner 1538), fol.xli recto.

12 G. Naudé, Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque 2nd ed. (Paris 1644; repr. 1990), p. 132-3; English translation: Advice on establishing a library (Berkeley-Los Angeles 1950), p. 65-6. For the backgrounds to this Advis see: J. Revel, ‘Entre deux mondes: la bibliothèque de Gabriel Naudé’, in: Le pouvoir des bibliothèques. Ed. M. Baratin & C. Jacob (Paris 1996), p. 243-50.

13 J. Burckhardt, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien. Ed. W. Goetz (Stuttgart 1958), p. 200 and 527; cf. W. Kaegi, Jacob Burckhardt. Eine Biographie. Vol. 3 (Basel-Stuttgart 1956), p. 741-3.

14 P. O. Kristeller, Supplementum Ficinianum. 2vols. (Florence 1937; repr. 1973).

15 Respectively E. Wind, Pagan mysteries in the Renaissance (London 1958; revised ed. 1967), p. 113 ff (cf. J. Snow-Smith, The ‘Primavera’ of Sandro Botticelli. A neoplatonic interpretation. New York 1993), and R. Klibansky, E. Panofsky and F. Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy. Studies in the history of natural philosophy, religion and art (London 1964), p. 284 ff, in particular p. 345 ff.

16 B. Santi, The marble pavement of the cathedral of Siena (Firenze 1982); cf A. Faivre, The eternal Hermes. (Grand Rapids 1995), p. 131.

17 See: P.J.J. van Thiel, ‘Litterarum inventores. Een uniek thema in de Sala Sistina van het Vaticaan’, in Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 15 (1964), pp. 105-31; The type specimen of the Vatican Press 1628. Ed. H.D.L. Vervliet (Amsterdam 1967), p. 17 ff; F.A. Janssen, Zetten en drukken in de achttiende eeuw. 2nd rev. ed. (Haarlem 1986), p. 94, 457; Faivre (see note 16), p. 134-5. On cabbala see: G. Scholem, Kabbalah. (New York [etc.] 1978).

18 The connection between these four areas has been described in: J.R. Ritman, ‘De Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica’, in: De hermetische gnosis in de loop der eeuwen. Ed. G. Quispel. 2nd ed. (Baarn 1994), p. 643-62, and in: (F. van Lamoen), De hermetische gnosis. Catalogus van een tentoonstelling in de BPH (Amsterdam 1986; 2nd rev. ed. 1990; English translation: The hermetic gnosis, Amsterdam 1988; French translation: La gnose hermétique, Amsterdam 1991); see also: (C. Gilly), 500 years of gnosis in Europe. Exhibition of printed books and manuscripts from the gnostic tradition, Moscow & St. Petersburg. Organized by Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica and M.I. Rudomino Russian State Library for Foreign Literature (Amsterdam 1993).

19 Quoted in: S. Settis, ‘Warburg continuatus. Description d’une bibliothèque’, in: Le pouvoir des bibliothèques (see note 12), p. 126.

20 This copy has been described in the first part of the incunabula catalogue of the BPH: (M.L. Ford), Christ, Plato, Hermes Trismegistus. The dawn of printing. Catalogue of the incunabula in the BPH (Amsterdam 1990), no. 113.

21 Almost all known manuscripts and printed editions – from the fourteenth century to the recent Dutch translation – have been brought together in a descriptive survey (F. van Lamoen), Hermes Trismegistus, Pater Philosophorum. Tekstgeschiedenis van het ‘Corpus Hermeticum’. Tentoonstelling in de BPH. 2nd ed. (Amsterdam 1991).

22 See amongst others: I. Pantin, ‘Les “commentaires” de Lefèvre d’Etaples au Corpus Hermeticum‘, in: Présence d’Hermès Trismégiste. Ed. A. Faivre (Paris 1988), p. 167-83; F.A. Janssen, Typografische vormgeving in enkele drukken van Henri Estienne. Een leidraad voor studenten (Amsterdam 1996), p. 20-4.

23 See F.A. Janssen, ‘Dutch translations of the Corpus Hermeticum‘, in: Theatrum orbis librorum. Liber amicorum Nico Israel. Ed. T. Croiset van Uchelen et al. (Utrecht 1989), p. 230-41.

24 See: (F. van Lamoen), Abraham Willemsz van Beyerland. Jacob Böhme en het Nederlands hermetisme in de 17e eeuw. Catalogus van een tentoonstelling in de BPH (Amsterdam 1986); F. van Ingen, Böhme und Böhmisten in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert (Bonn 1984), p. 12-6.

25 Hermes Trismegistus, De la puissance et sapience de Dieu (Paris 1549). The division-mark also occurs once in: Orphei seu Mercurii Termaximi prognostica a terrae motibus. Tr. I.A. Baifius (Paris 1586), p. 2 (‘Mercurii Ter-Maximi’); we also find it in a manuscript copy from 1740 after Van Beyerland’s translation: see Van Lamoen (note 21), no. 15.

26 M.L. Kuntz, Guillaume Postel (The Hague [etc.] 1981), p. 155-6; as an alchemistic symbol for ‘praecipitare’ (=to precipitate) see for instance M.P. Hall, An encyclopedic outline of masonic…symbolical philosophy (San Franscisco 1928, many reprints), p. CLV.

27 F.M. O’Hara, ‘The use of the hyphen in printing to indicate divided words’ in: Visible language 5 (1971), pp. 112, 121.

28 Respectively: P. Burke, The Italian Renaissance (London 1986); M. Lowry, Nicholas Jenson (Oxford 1991); G. Schwarz and M.J. Bok, Pieter Saenredam (Maarssen-‘s-Gravenhage 1989).

29 Auction Sotheby’s New York, Fine books and manuscripts 14-15 June 1993, no. 9.

30 For the history of the Böhme manuscripts see the literature listed in F.A. Janssen, ‘Böhme’s Wercken (1682): its editor, its publisher, its printer’, in: Quaerendo 16 (1986), p. 138; cf Van Lamoen (see note 24), p. 7-12. See also Abraham von Franckenberg, Briefwechsel. Ed. Joachim Telle (Stuttgart 1995), p. 118-26, 337.

31 W. Buddecke, Verzeichnis von Jacob Böhme-Handschriften (Göttingen 1934), no. 143 and 143a.

32 Communication by H. Borst, who is preparing a dissertation on Van Ravesteyn.

33 J. Bruckner, A bibliographical catalogue of seventeenth-century German books published in Holland (The Hague 1971), no. 91, cf. p. xi and 63; cf: Catalogus universalis. Facs. ed. of the Dutch booktrade catalogues compiled and published by Broer Jansz, Amsterdam 1640-1652. Ed. H.W. de Kooker (Utrecht 1986), part 2, no. 65: ‘by Johan Jansson’ (the lists of Broer Jansz, however, sometimes only indicate that the title could be bought from the bookseller mentioned). Bruckner’s attribution has been adopted by G. Dünnhaupt, Personalbibliographien zu den Drucken des Barock, 2nd. ed. (Stuttgart 1990), Vol. 1, p. 691 and in (D.L. Paisey), Catalogue of books printed in the German-speaking countries … from 1600 to 1700 now in the British Library (London 1994), no. B 1655.

34 We know his hand from a manuscript kept in the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel: Buddecke (see note 31), no. 7.

35 Buddecke (see note 31, no. 143 and 145; Van Lamoen (see note 24), p. 24. There are later and also modern editions of the Mysterium magnum, in English, French and Dutch, but for the German text we still have to rely on the edition of Böhme’s collected works from 1730: facs. ed. in Sämtliche Schriften. Ed. W.-E. Peuckert (Stuttgart 1958), vol. 7-8.

36 There are various (facsimile) editions; one of them containing an extensive commentary by G.D. Painter (London 1963); there are also French and English translations. The best modern edition is: F. Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Ed. G. Pozzi & L.A. Ciapponi (Padua 1980), with extensive commentary; cf. F. Colonna, Le songe de Poliphile. Tr. J. Martin, prés. G. Polizzi (Paris 1994). Of the many studies I only mention L. Birchler, ‘Über die “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili”’, in Librarium 1 (1958), pp. 37-47 and A. Blunt, ‘The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in 17th-century France’, in Journal of the Warburg Institute 1 (1937-8), pp. 117-37. A recent study attributes the work to the architect Alberti: L. Lefaivre, Leon Battista Alberti’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Cambridge, Mass.- London 1997).

37 G. Austin, The library of Jean Grolier (New York 1971), no. 141-4; Incunabula in Dutch libraries (Nieuwkoop 1983), no. 1353.

38 Ford (see note 20), no. 72; A. McLean, The Silent Language. The symbols of hermetic philosophy. Exhibition in the BPH (Amsterdam 1994), p. 30; J. Van Lennep, Alchimie (Bruxelles 1984), pp. 97. 167. There even exists a Jungian interpretation of the Poliphilus: L. Fierz-David, Der Liebestraum des Poliphilo (Zürich 1947), tr. The dream of Poliphilo (New York 1950; repr. 1987). On alchemy see also: (H.M.E. de Jong), Les symboles spirituels de l’alchimie. Exposition BPH (Amsterdam 1988).

39 See: Van Lennep (see note 38) p. 246; R. Brun, ‘Maquettes d’éditions d’Oronce Fine’, in: Studia bibliographica in honorem H. de la Fontaine Verwey (Amsterdam 1966), pp. 36-42. The incunables from Fine’s library are now kept in the Médiathèque Luxembourg in Meaux (Patrimoine des bibliothèques de France, vol. 1 (Paris 1995), p. 36).

40 A. Hobson & P. Culot, Italian and French 16th-century bookbindings (Brussels 1990), no. 66.

41 For Ferrand see J.-D. Mellot, Dynamique provincial et centralisme parisien: l’edition rouennaise et ses marchés. Thèse Université Paris I (Paris 1991-2), Annexe, p. 93.

42 (C. Gilly), Johann Valentin Andreae 1586-1986. Die Manifeste der Rosenkreuzerbruderschaft. Katalog einer Ausstellung in der BPH. 2nd ed. (Amsterdam 1986); C. Gilly, Cimelia (see note 10); C. Gilly, Adam Haslmayr. Der erste Verkünder der Manifeste der Rosenkreuzer (Amsterdam 1994); cf. Das Erbe des Christian Rosenkreuz. Vorträge gehalten anläßlich des Amsterdamer Symposiums 1986 (Amsterdam 1988).

43 F. Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London 1972); Yates’s insights concerning the backgrounds to the movement of the Early Rosicrucians did not meet with undivided support and have lost their validity especially since Gilly’s publications.

44 See: R. Frey-Jaun, Die Berufung des Türhüters. Zur ‘Chymischen Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz’ von Johann Valentin Andreae (Bern 1989), p. 48-51.

45 See the English translation with extensive esoteric commentary by J. van Rijckenborgh, The secrets of the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross. 3 vols (Haarlem 1991). A scholarly edition is being prepared in the edition of the collected works of J.V.Andreae (Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt 1994 ff). At this moment the best edition is: J.V. Andreae, Fama, Confessio, Chymische Hochzeit. Ed. R. van Dülmen (Stuttgart 1981).

46 On Paracelsus and the Rosicrucians see (C. Gilly), Paracelsus in der Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (Amsterdam 1993).

47 This Book of Hours has been loaned in the past to various exhibitions: The golden age of Dutch manuscript painting (New York 1990), no. 91; Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen. Randversiering in Noordnederlandse handschriften uit de vijftiende eeuw (Zutphen 1992), no. 35. The manuscript used to belong to the famous collector Chester Beatty.

48 G. Grote, Getijden van de eeuwige wijsheid. Ed. A.G. Weiler (Baarn 1984). An edition of the entire Book of Hours by Geert Grote: Het Getijdenboek van Geert Groote naar het Haagse handschrift 133 E 21. Ed. N. van Wijk. Leiden 1940; cf. Heinrich Susos Horlogium Sapientiae. Ed. P. Künzle (Freiburg 1977), p. 262-3, Suso’s text on p. 606-18.