Jacob Boehme : insights into the challenge of evil

by Ann Liem

Pamphlet, 1977



Call number

CP 214


Wallingford, Pa. : Pendle Hill Publications, 1977.

Original publication date



0875742149 / 9780875742144

Local notes

also reprinted as PHP 351

User reviews

LibraryThing member bookcrazed
Author Ann Liem’s interest in German mystic Jakob Boehme (1575-1624) is the striking similarity of Boehme’s life and teachings to that of George Fox (1624-1691), founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Just as Boehme suffered censure and criticism from the Lutheran Church during
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his lifetime, Fox was persecuted by the Church of England for his teachings. Both were propelled forward in their work by guiding visions.

Boehme’s writings on the nature of God and the creation of the universe often conflicted with Lutheran teachings, and his insights about good and evil and the road to salvation were both original and far removed from the thinking of his time. God created all things as an expression of pure joy, he wrote:
God did not create for the purpose of perfecting Himself, but to reveal Himself to Himself in joy and magnificence. This joy did not start with the creation of this world, but has been from all eternity, a subjective state in God.

Just as theoretical physicists propose that our universe eternally adjusts to achieve balance, Boehme wrote that our existence depends on paired opposites that create the tension necessary to the creative process—male and female, hot and cold, dark and light, good and evil, and on and on. Thus evil is essential to our universe and embodied in all human beings.

Boehme does not abandon humanity to a destiny of eternal suffering at the hands of evil, but rather emphasizes that each of us can exercise our free will to choose between good and evil. “For there is nothing so evil, but hath a good in it, whereby it may rule and be predominant over the evil,” he writes. He refers to a return to God, which will happen when all souls have been saved (made good by their own choosing). This has the ring of the Buddhist philosophy that souls reincarnate time and time again in an effort to achieve perfection. Boehme’s universe has no chosen people, no one predestined to achieve unity with God, nor any magic number of souls who will ascend.

Liem has done a fine job of distilling and simplifying Boehme’s writings, which are dense and repetitive. Though free access to a complete collection of his work is available on the Internet for anyone courageous enough to tackle it, Liem’s 36-page pamphlet is a good introduction.
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LibraryThing member QuakerReviews
For those interested in the history of mysticism, this pamphlet about one of the great Christian mystics will be very interesting. Boehme, 1575-1624, a Christian mystic born into a Lutheran peasant family in Bohemia, wrote about 30 books and treatises that were influential among Reformation
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dissent, including in England in the 17th century. This pamphlet gives an introduction to his mystical ideas.
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Call number

CP 214


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