BOEHM, HANS: A popular preacher of the fifteenth century, known as the Drummer of Niklashausen; executed July 19, 1476. He was originally a shepherd at Helmstadt, between Würzburg and Wertheim. Up to the beginning of 1476, he had been used to play the drum and fife for rustic dances, but what he heard of the preaching of the Franciscan Capistrano (see CAPISTRANO, GIOVANNI DI) worked a great change in him. He alleged that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him and called him to be a prophet and preacher of repentance. In the village of Niklashausen near his home there was a picture of her already reputed miraculous and visited by pilgrims. Here, at the end of March, he began to preach, having burnt his drum in token of conversion. Lacking not only secular education but even elementary religious knowledge, he yet made a deep impression on his hearers by the innocence and purity of his nature. He did not stop with calling the peasants to repentance, but showed increasing bitterness against the clergy and nobles, who, he said, would find no place in the kingdom announced to him by the Virgin; taxes were to be abolished, no one was to have more than another, and all men were to live as brothers. His fame soon spread throughout central and southern Germany, and crowds of pilgrims, put as high as 40,000, thronged to hear him. He seems to have intended to lead them in an armed rising; but Bishop Rudolf of Würzburg had him arrested on July 12, and warded off the danger of a great peasants' war. Two days later, 16,000 of his followers appeared to rescue him, but were dispersed; and on the 19th, a recantation having been extorted from him, he perished on the scaffold as a heretic and enchanter.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. A. Barack, Hans Böhm und die Wallfahrt nach Niklashausen im Jahre 1476, Würzburg, 1858; C. Ullmann, Reformers before the Reformation, i, 377-392. Edinburgh, 1877 (a very detailed account); E. Gothein, Politische und religiöse Volksbewegungen vor der Reformation, pp. 10 sqq., Breslau, 1878; H. Haupt, Die religiösen Sekten in Franker vor der Reformation, pp. 57 sqq., Würzburg, 1882.
Early Tendency Toward Mysticism (§ 1).
Mystic Visions (§ 2).
Opposition to his First Book (§ 3).
Finds Sympathy in Dresden (§ 4).
Death of Böhme (§ 5).
His Writings (§ 6).
His Transcendentalism (§ 7).
His Essential Orthodoxy (§ 8).
The famous German mystic Jakob Böhme (often written Behmen or Boehme in English), born at Alt-Seidenberg, near Görlitz, Nov., 1575; d. at Görlitz Nov. 17, 1624. His parents were peasants, from whom he inherited, it seems, a strain of visionary mysticism. Unable to bear the rough outdoor life of the farm, he was put to shoemaking in the little town of Seidenberg, where he had a hard apprenticeship with a family that had no Christian principles, and got an early insight into the controversies of the age. With diligent reading of the Bible and prayer for
A visionary, however, he remained. He tells the story of a stranger coming into his shop and calling him by name, taking him aside to tell him he should be so great that the world should wonder at him, and warning him to remain true to the Word of God and to a life of virtue. Other visions followed. One day the reflection of the sun from a bright metal vessel in his shop seemed to infuse such spiritual light into his soul that the inner mysteries of things were laid open to his sight. He went out into the fields to seek the revelation of God's will in earnest prayer, and found his peace and joy only grow the deeper. None the less, ten years passed before he ventured to put down in writing what he had seen, and then he did so only on the encouragement of a new vision and as a memorandum for himself. The incomplete manuscript, written in great haste, which he called Aurora oder die Morgenröte im Aufgang, began to circulate among his acquaintances at the instance of Karl von Ender, a friendly noble man who was an adherent of Schwenckfeld's.
Thus despised and rejected in his own day, Böhme has been honored by some of the greatest minds of Germany in a later age; such men as Friedrich von Hardenberg, Jung-Stilling, Friedrich Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck, Hegel and Schelling received valuable intellectual impulses from his works, which also attracted much attention in England, where a complete translation appeared between 1644 and 1682. Besides those already named, the most important are Von den drei Principien göttlichen Wesens; Vom dreifachen Leben des Menschen; Vierzig Fragen von der Seele; Von wahrer Busse; Das Gespräch einer unerleuchteten Seele; and Der Weg zu Christo; including two against predestinarianism and two against pantheism. Böhme's influence has never been a popular one, because his train of thought is frequently difficult and sometimes almost impossible to follow. This is due partly to his lack of education, which prevented him from expressing himself clearly, but partly also to the depth and intensity of his thought, which has to struggle for adequate representation in words. With sincere longing, with real hunger of the soul he plunges into the depths of God's being. The traditional theology of the schools, with its strife about the letter, could not content him.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The works of Böhme were collected in Germany by J. G. Gichtel, 1682, and an edition in 7 vols. was edited by Schiebler, Leipsic, 1831-47. The Eng. ed. is mentioned in the text. Early accounts in Eng. of his life were by D. Hotham, London, 1654, and by F. Okeley, Northampton, 1780; in Germ. by J. A. Calo, Wittenberg, 1707. For later accounts consult: J. Claassen, J. Böhme. Sein Leben und seine theosophischen Werke, 3 vols., Stuttgart, 1885; H. L. Martensen, J. Böhme, Copenhagen, 1882, Eng. transl., London, 1885; R. A. Vaughan, Hours with the Mystics, vol. ii, ib. 1888; Schönwälder, Lebensbeschreibung J. Böhmes, Görlitz, 1895. More nearly concerned with his philosophy are: J. Hamberger, Die Lehre des deutschen Philosophen J. Böhme, Munich, 1844: C. F. Baur, Zur Geschichte der protestantischen Mystik, in Theologische Jahrbücher, vii-viii, 1848-49; A. Peip, J. Böhme . . . der Vorläufer christlicher Wissenschaft, Leipsic, 1860; idem, J. Böhme . . . in seiner Stellung zur Kirche, Hamburg, 1862; J. Tulloch, Rational Theology and Christian Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century, Edinburgh, 1874; F. von Baader, Vorlesungen über J. Böhme, in Sämmtliche Werke, vol. xiii, Leipsic, 1855; F. Hartmann, Life and Doctrines of Böhme, the God-taught Philosopher, London, 1893; J. F. Hurst, History of Rationalism, chap. i, New York, 1902. McClintock and Strong, Cyclopdia, ii, 842, gives in Eng. complete list of his works.
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