Religion Past and Present

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(1,700 words)

[German Version]

I. Alchemy denotes a particular craft knowledge used first of all for transforming metals; however, its goal was not only the perfecting of the material but also of the human being (e.g. healing or immortality). The origins of Western alchemy are found in Antiquity; in the earliest literary sources (3rd cent. ce) Greek philosophy of nature played as much a part as Hellenistic astrology, Gnosis and mythology. Reciprocal contacts and influences between comparable manifestations in Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor, India and China are plausible but diff…

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Jödicke, Ansgar, “Alchemy”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 11 August 2022 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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