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Humanities 2018, 7(4), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040127

Johann Scheffler (Angelus Silesius): The Silesian Mystic as a Boethian Thinker. Universal Insights, Ancient Wisdom, and Baroque Perspectives

Department of German Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Received: 19 October 2018 / Revised: 28 November 2018 / Accepted: 29 November 2018 / Published: 4 December 2018
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Abstract

This paper offers an analysis of a number of the fascinating, thought-provoking, and yet often deeply puzzling epigrams by the German Baroque poet Johann Scheffler (Angelus Silesius), and illustrates how his enigmatic mystical concepts were influenced, to some extent, by the philosophical thoughts offered by the late antique statesman and thinker Boethius (d. 525). While recent research has already reached new insights into the long-term reception history of Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae well into the modern age, including by Scheffler, we still face the critical desideratum to determine the meaning of Scheffler’s spiritual insights in direct correlation with Boethius’s fundamental teachings, and hence, to answer the intriguing and challenging question of why Scheffler, along with Boethius, continues to speak to us today, and this perhaps more than ever before. Even though Scheffler pursued deeply religious questions typical of his time, he obviously greatly profited from Boethius’s musings about the meaning of the absolute Goodness, the vagaries of fortune, and the instability of all material existence in the quest for happiness. Many times we observe that Scheffler offers paradoxical and also apophatic statements, but those make surprisingly astounding sense if we read them, especially in light of Boethius’s teachings, as perceived in the seventeenth century. The epigrams thus prove to be the prolific outcome of universal cross-fertilizations and demonstrate the continued impact of antiquity on the modern world and the growing need today to accept the notion of “world literature” not only in a contemporary, transcultural perspectives, but also in terms of universal interactions throughout time. View Full-Text
Keywords: Johann Scheffler (Angelus Silesius); Boethius; epigrams; mysticism; reception history; Baroque literature; quest for happiness; quest for the Godhead Johann Scheffler (Angelus Silesius); Boethius; epigrams; mysticism; reception history; Baroque literature; quest for happiness; quest for the Godhead
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Classen, A. Johann Scheffler (Angelus Silesius): The Silesian Mystic as a Boethian Thinker. Universal Insights, Ancient Wisdom, and Baroque Perspectives. Humanities 2018, 7, 127.

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