Boehme, Jakob

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Boehme or Böhme, Jakob

(bē`mə, Ger. yä`kôp bö`mə), 1575–1624, German religious mystic, a cobbler of Görlitz, in England also called Behmen. He was a student of the Bible and was influenced by Paracelsus. In his major works, De signatura rerum (tr. The Signature of all Things, 1912) and Mysterium magnum, Boehme describes God as the abyss, the nothing and the all, the primordial depths from which the creative will struggles forth to find manifestation and self-consciousness. Evil is a result of the striving of single elements of Deity to become the whole; conflict ensues as man and nature strive to achieve God who, in himself, contains all antithetical principles. Boehme exerted a profound influence on the philosophies of Baader, Schelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer. Boehme claimed divine revelation and had many followers in Germany and Holland. Societies of Behmenites were formed in England; many of them were later absorbed by the Quakers.


See The Confessions of Jacob Boehme, ed. by W. S. Palmer (1954); study by D. Walsh (1983); biography by F. Hartmann (1985).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Boehme, Jakob


Born 1575 in Altseidenberg; died Nov. 17, 1624, in Görlitz. German philosopher, advocate of pantheism. By profession a shoemaker.

Characteristic of Boehme’s works are a fusion of natural philosophy and mysticism, exalted style, and the presence of a great number of biblical and poetic images. God, according to Boehme, is one with nature and encompasses everything within himself—heaven and hell, the inner and the outer, good and evil; he creates himself from “nothing” by splitting his original, undifferentiated unity in half and giving the two parts opposing characteristics: light and dark, good and evil. The elemental-dialectic ideas of Boehme heavily influenced the subsequent development of German philosophy (F. Baader, F. von Schelling, G. W. F. Hegel). K. Marx and F. Engels used Boehme’s term “torment (Qual) of the material” to mean a goal, a life spirit, or a straining for the characteristics of the principle of self-motivation (see Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 2, p. 142).


Sammtliche Werke, vols. 1–7. Leipzig, 1922.
Glaube und Tat. Berlin, 1957.
In Russian translation:
Aurora, ili Utrenniaia zaria v voskhozhdenii. Moscow, 1914. (Translated from German.)


Leven, V. G. “Iakob Beme i ego uchenie.” Vestnik istorii mirovoikul’tury, 1958, no. 5.
Feierbakh, L. Istoriiafilosofii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1967.
Grunsky, H. Jacob Bohme. Stuttgart, 1956.
Stoudt, J. J. Sunrise to Eternity. Philadelphia, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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