De secretis creationis

From Theatrum Paracelsicum
I. Basic information

Printing History, Manuscripts. First published by Michael Toxites as a separate work in 1575. A Latin translation of the last chapter, from a different source, was made by Georg Forberger in 1574 and published in 1575. Three manuscripts. – According to Toxites (dedicatory epistle, dated 1st January 1575), this work will repudiate the accusation that Paracelsus denied the resurrection of the body. Toxites reprinted it in Drey Tractat Ph. Theophrasti Paracelsi in 1577. – The text of the Heidelberg manuscript is part of a collection of alchemical texts. The 1701 edition in Das Geheimnüß der Schöpfung, a collection of mostly (pseudo-)Weigelian texts printed in Amsterdam, has a few notes of the editor that refer to an alchemical context as well.

Editions. Edited by Huser, Chir. 1605, Appendix, 102–115. Not edited by Sudhoff.

Relationship between different versions. The original version contains a diagram with text in 14 circles. This diagram is preserved only in the 1701 edition and (scattered over four pages) in the Heidelberg manuscript. The earlier printed versions, including Huser’s edition, preserve only the text of the diagram.

Structure, genre/form, perspective, style.

Relationship to other texts.

Authenticity, authorship. Georg Forberger doubted the authenticity of the work. In 1574, obviously not knowing the 1575 edition (as Sudhoff surmised), he translated its last chapter into Latin from a manuscript, and wrote in the margin: “Videtur esse fragmentum commentarii in Genesim: dubito tamen an Theophrasti sit.” Rejected as spurious by Huser and Sudhoff. – Fritz Lieb tried to show that Valentin Weigel’s deacon, Benedikt Biedermann, was the author of De secretis creationis; this, however, is not generally accepted. – The Heidelberg manuscript (dated 1574) is not attributed to Paracelsus.

Time of writing. In Toxites’s edition (1575), the text is dated 1570 on the last page (“Gott allein die Ehr. M.D.LXX.”). However, this date may refer either to the original writing of the text, or to the writing of the manuscript copy used by Toxites. Probably written in the 1560s – or in 1570.

II. Sources


  • Hehdelberg, Universitätsbibliothek: Cod. Pal. germ. 598, f. 1r–41r [anonymous]
  • Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek: Hs. Bernus 148, f. 10r–46v
  • Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek: Voss. Chym. Q.59, f. 121r–135v

First printed:

  • 1575 (De secretis creationis. Von Heimligkeiten der Schöpffung aller dingen. Philipp. Theophrastus Paracelsus, ed. Michael Toxites (Strasburg: Christian Müller, 1575); VD16 P 561; Sudhoff, Bibliographia Paracelsica, 277–278 n° 161)
  • 1575 (Latin fragment; in Aureoli Theophrasti Paracelsi eremitae, philosophi summi Operum latine redditorum tomus I, ed. Georg Forberger (Basel: Pietro Perna, 1575); VD16 P 382; Sudhoff, Bibliographia Paracelsica, 284–288 n° 166)
  • 1577 (in: Drey Tractat Ph. Theophrasti Paracelsi, ed. Michael Toxites (Strasburg: Christian Müller, 1577); VD16 P 446; Sudhoff, Bibliographia Paracelsica, 299–300 n° 175)
  • 1701 (in: Das Geheimnüß Der Schöpffung/ Nach ihren sichtbaren und unsichtbaren Wundern (Amsterdam: Heinrich Betke, 1701); VD18, 11639903)

Historical Manuscript Catalogues: Thomasius (1699), 141.

III. Bibliography

Essential bibliography: Sudhoff, Bibliographia Paracelsica, 287, 463; CP 2: 463–476 n° 66, 669; CP 3: 529, 1189.

Further bibliographical references:

Fritz Lieb, Valentin Weigels Kommentar zur Schöpfungsgeschichte und das Schrifttum seines Schülers Benedikt Biedermann. Eine literarkritische Untersuchung zur mystischen Theologie des 16. Jahrhunderts (Zurich, 1962), 21–23, 38, 47, 131–134, 151.

Walter Pagel, Das medizinische Weltbild des Paracelsus. Seine Zusammenhänge mit Neuplatonismus und Gnosis (Wiesbaden, 1962), 108.

Boeren, Codices Vossiani Chymici (1975), 235.

Gilly, Paracelsus in der BPH (1993), 62.

Carlos Gilly, in 500 лет гнозиса в Европе. гностическая традиция в печатных и рукописных книгах (Amsterdam, 1993), 116 n° 20a.

Hildegard Elisabeth Keller, “‘zwo welt in einer haut’. Paracelsische ‘Augenlehr’ am Beispiel der Frau,” Nova Acta Paracelsica, N.F. 14 (2000), 41–78, on 49–59.

Gilly, “Vom ägyptischen Hermes,” 82, 102, 109, 110, 113.

Pamela Kalnig, Matthias Miller and Karin Zimmermann, Die Codices Palatini germanici in der Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg (Cod. Pal. germ. 496–670) (Wiesbaden, 2014), 260–261.