This German protestant mystic and theologian, was born in the East German town of Goerlitz in 1575. He had little in the way of a formal education and made his living as a shoemaker; he married and had four children. He is considered an original thinker within the Lutheran tradition, his thought drew from a wide range of interests including Paracelsus, the Kabbala, alchemy and the Hermetic tradition.
Böhme had a number of mystical experiences throughout his youth, culminating in a vision in 1600 as one day he focused his attention onto the exquisite beauty of a beam of sunlight reflected in a pewter dish. He believed this vision revealed to him the spiritual structure of the world, as well as the relationship between God and man, and good and evil. At the time he chose not to speak of this experience openly, preferring instead to continue his work and raise a family
In 1610 Böhme experienced another inner vision in which he further understood the unity of the cosmos and felt that he had received a special vocation from God.
Twelve years after the vision in 1600, Böhme began to write his first book, Die Morgenroete im Aufgang (The rising of Dawn). The book was given the name Aurora by a friend; however, Böhme originally wrote the book for himself and it was never completed. A manuscript copy of the unfinished work was loaned to Karl von Ender, a nobleman, who had copies made and began to circulate them. . Like Eckhart and others, Boehme's thought drew fire from the church authorities, who silenced him for five years. In 1618 Boehme began writing again, this time in secrecy after the persistent insistence of friends who had read Aurora,
In 1619 Böhme wrote "De Tribus Principiis" or "On the Three Principles of Divine Being". It took him two years to finish his second book, which was followed by many other treatises, all of which were copied by hand and circulated only among friends. In 1620 Böhme wrote "The Threefold Life of Man", "Forty Questions on the Soul", "The Incarnation of Jesus Christ", "The Six Theosophical Points", "The Six Mystical Points".
In 1622 Böhme wrote "De Signatura Rerum". In 1623 Böhme wrote "On Election to Grace", "On Christ's Testaments", "Mysterium Magnum", "Clavis (Key)". The year 1622 saw Böhme write some short works all of which were subsequently included in his first published book on New Year's Day 1624, under the title Weg zu Christo The Way to Christ.
He again raised the cockles of church authorities, and he was banished from his home. He died soon thereafter, in 1624, after returning home from Dresden. His last words spoken, as he was surrounded by his family, were reported to be, "Now I go hence into Paradise."
Poets such as John Milton, Ludwig Tiack, Novalis and William blake found inspiration in Böhme's writings. His thought influenced major figures in philosophy, especially German Romantics such as Baader, Schelling and Hegel. Hegel.went as far as to say that Böhme was "the first German philosopher."
Indirectly, his influence can be traced to the work of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Hartmann, Bergson, and Heidegger. Paul Tillich and Martin Buber drew heavily from his work -- as did the psychologist, Carl Jung, who made numerous references to Boehme in his writings. Hegel, Baader, and Schelling. . Further,
compiled from several sources
graphic:upper left cover pagefor one of Boehme's tracts
bottom right, from The Life and Doctrines of Jacob Boehme. by Franz Hartmann