The Rosicrucian Manuscriptsby Benedict J. Williamson
The Rosicrucian Fraternity announced their existence some four centuries ago. Since then there has been much speculation about the brotherhood regarding their secrets, their history, and their existence. Time has spawned numerous imitators, voluble detractors, and earnest defenders of the Fraternity. The only certainty lies in the early manuscripts and publications; these works are presented together in this volume.Herein are all of the crucial Rosicrucian documents. The Fama Fraternitatis proclaims the existence of the brotherhood to the world and calls for sincere Christian reformation. The Confessio Fraternitatis gives more details on their history and teachings. The Chemical Wedding is considered by some to be a key alchemical work by the brotherhood. When the Fama was first printed, it was accompanied by the by Trajano Bocalini. Each of these works is presented in an early English translation, along with the original prefaces. Also included is Thomas Vaughn's lengthy preface to the first English publication of Fama and Confession This edition includes introductions to every Rosiucrucian work, useful footnotes, historical information, and latin, german and greek translations from noted Rosicrucian scholar Benedict J. Williamson. Williamson has compared numerous translations of the various works to produce the most authoritative and accurate version to date of these forgotten historical treasures.
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This book contains the three major original Rosicrucian works, Fama Fraternitias, Confessio Fraternitias, and The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz, along with a few other short historical pieces. I knew that these were available in places on the internet, but this book was really worth the price because of Williamson's amazing editing job. He went back to the original texts and compiled the most authoritative edition in years. He added historical footnotes, references, and even translated the greek and latin parts of the text. He also placed the works into their historical context by adding easy-to-read introductions. All of the original graphics from the Chymical Weddiing are included, so you get a bit of the RCs symbology. These stories are much clearer, cleaner, and more complete than any version I've seen anywhere. If you are interested in Rosicrucianism, put down all those modern New Age books written by people who don't know what they are talking about, and read these stories, which are the only ones known to have been written by the original Rosicrucians themselves.
I've given this book a five star rating because it is very well produced. I can't say I really liked the contents, though. It has the original Rosicrucian tracts, which seem to basically say that they think people aught to follow the teachings of Jesus (a fine idea). The first publication was accompanied by a spoof called "The General Reformation" translated from some Italian work, which implies that the whole suggestion of a brotherhood is a farce. To make matters more absurd, the first English publication was accompanied by a alchemical work (which is absolutely dreadful) -- this has an amazing amount of obsfucation just to hide the fact the author (Thomas Vaughn) didn't know anything. Likewise, at the end of the volume is another alchemical 'allegory' which is utter dreck, but is assigned to the Rosicrucians. According to the editor of this book, Williamson, this last work was even admitted by the author as being something to see how gullible people were (very, based on a brief search on the internet). Again, the book is very well done, and the editor has a nice introduction and some good footnotes (I wonder what his opinions on the Rosicrucians are -- he remains carefully neutral).