|Photo: Thu-Huong Ha|
Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, announced last week (June 16) that he’s donating €300,000 to digitize a collection of ancient books. The 4,600 pre-1900 texts on alchemy, astrology, magic, and theosophy are housed in Amsterdam’s Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, also called the Ritman Library.
They include extremely precious texts on Hermeticism, an occult tradition that began roughly in the second century AD, and early printed editions of the Bible and the Quran:
- Corpus Hermeticum (1472): the source work on Hermetic wisdom. Says Ritman, when the manuscript arrived at the de’Medici court in 1463, scholar Marsilio Ficino was told to stop his translation of all the works of Plato, in order to translate this immediately.
- Jakob Böhme’s works in English (1764-1781): Böhme was a shoemaker who became a seminal figure of German Christian mysticism.
- Giordano Bruno’s Spaccio de la bestia trionfante (1584): Bruno, who lived during the Italian Renaissance, was burned at the stake for refusing to recant his ideas on the infinite universe.
- the first printed version of the tree of life (1516): A graphic representation of the sefirot, the 10 virtues of God according to the Kabbalah.
- an early Quran printed in Arabic (1694): The fourth edition of the printed Quran in Arabic, printed in Hamburg, Germany.
- a copy of a first-edition Quran in Latin (1542-1543): Printed in Basel, Switzerland.
- a hand-colored version of the Bible (1568-1573): A hand-inked version of the Bible printed for King Philips II of Spain, which appeared with four side-by-side translations, in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Chaldaic.