Alchemy as donum dei

Hyle 4 (1):63 - 80 (1998)

Abstract
The view of alchemy as a gift of God is traced from her origin in the Hellenistic world through the Arabic world to Latin Europe. In the course of this history the attitude towards divine intervention changed; Hermes, the legendary (semidivine) founder of this science was not yet expected to intervene into the work of an alchemist. Already in the Hellenistic world alchemy became donum dei; the role of God graduated in the later cultures, and persisted surprisingly long in Latin Europe. Here, God was the decisive force presenting only selected people with his gift, the knowledge of alchemy. Crafts based on chemistry and metallurgy developed simultaneously in the same social and religious environment, but they took quite a different position - free access for people to learn all knowledge. Therefore, alchemy and crafts are to be compared also from the point of view of donum dei
Keywords Philosophy of Chemistry  alchemy  religion  transmutation  donum dei  crafts
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