Prophecy, Alchemy, and the End of Time: John of Rupecissa in the Late Middle Ages

Prophecy, Alchemy, and the End of Time: John of Rupecissa in the Late Middle Ages

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by Leah DeVun
     
 

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In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Franciscan friar John of Rupescissa sent a dramatic warning to his followers: the end times were coming; the apocalypse was near. Rupescissa's teachings were unique in his era. He claimed that knowledge of the natural world, and alchemy in particular, could act as a defense against the calamity of the last days. He

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Overview

In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Franciscan friar John of Rupescissa sent a dramatic warning to his followers: the end times were coming; the apocalypse was near. Rupescissa's teachings were unique in his era. He claimed that knowledge of the natural world, and alchemy in particular, could act as a defense against the calamity of the last days. He treated alchemy as medicine (his work was the conceptual forerunner of pharmacology), and reflected emerging technologies and views that sought to combat famine, plague, religious persecution, and war. In order to understand scientific knowledge as it is today, Leah DeVun asks that we revisit the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War, and the Avignon Papacy through Rupescissa's eyes. The advances he pioneered, along with the exciting strides made by his contemporaries, shed critical light on future developments in medicine, pharmacology, and chemistry.

Columbia University Press

Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review - Chara Crisciani

DeVun's book is well-constructed, thoroughly documented, instructive, and very useful.

SPECULUM - Stanton J. Linden

[H]ighly readable text, amply supported by some fifty pages of endnotes, a bibliography, and a usefully compiled index, Leah DeVun has produced an original and valuable book.

Church History - David E. Timmer

This book offers the reader a tour of one of the more peculiar corners of medieval thought, a corner defined by the intersection of three enterprises: Spiritual Franciscanism, Joachite apocalypticism, and alchemical speculation.

Medievalia et Humanistica - Laura Ackerman Smoller

DeVun has written a splendid book about medieval alchemy and apocalyptic prophecy that is truly a pleasure to read. Prophecy, Alchemy, and the End of Time will be an essential item for anyone hoping to understand the history of science and religion in the later Middle Ages.

H-German - Gregory J. Miller

An excellent study.... not only for its careful description of an underappreciated figure, but also because of the important theoretical contributions [DeVun] makes to a more holistic approach to our understanding of the history of science and to late medieval culture.

American Historical Review
DeVun's book is well-constructed, thoroughly documented, instructive, and very useful.

— Chara Crisciani

Speculum
[H]ighly readable text, amply supported by some fifty pages of endnotes, a bibliography, and a usefully compiled index, Leah DeVun has produced an original and valuable book.

— Stanton J. Linden, Washington State University

Journal of Church History
[Devun's] book is a valuable addition to recent scholarship on late medieval "ousiders," following in the footsteps of Robert E. Lerner and Bernard McGinn.

— David E. Timmer, Central College

Speculuma Journal of Medieval Studies

In 163 pages of highly readable text...Leah DeVun has produced an original and valueable book that illuminates the activities and writings of the Franciscan Friar John of Rupecissa

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231519342
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
06/19/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
File size:
19 MB
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What People are saying about this

Robert Lerner

Leah DeVun's study is original in conception, thoroughly researched, and written with distinction. Most important, it is fully persuasive concerning the ideological link between prophecy and alchemy in the agenda of its fascinating protagonist, John of Rupescissa. Prophecy, Alchemy, and the End of Time will be of interest to students of both apocalypticism and medieval scientific thought.

Laura Ackerman Smoller

Prophecy, Alchemy, and the End of Time is a splendid book. In vivid, accessible prose, Leah DeVun brings to life the mental and spiritual worlds of a fourteenth-century seer and alchemist. DeVun is the first to examine John of Rupescissa as a whole person, placing his alchemical writings squarely in an apocalyptic context. Deftly crossing a number of disciplinary boundaries, she masterfully demonstrates that our modern distinction between 'science' and 'religion' is meaningless when applied to Rupescissa's fourteenth-century context. A genuine pleasure to read, this book will appeal to scholars in a number of fields and will provide the general reader with a compelling introduction to the effort made by medieval authors to use human reason in approaching the secrets of God.

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