Monday, September 04, 2017

Jacob Boehme: A cobbler who did not stick to his last

Jacob Boehme (1575 – 1624) was an unschooled shoemaker who was born in Saxony (Germany) in 1575 and became one of the world’s deepest and profound mystics with a huge body of written work to his credit. He came from poor but pious parents who were Lutherans. As a young boy he spent most of his time alone taking care of cattle. From an early age he had developed a profound understanding of the scriptures. As a teenager, Jacob concentrated all his efforts on becoming a shoemaker. Then one day whilst serving a customer, the stranger forecast Jacob would become a world famous mystic and philosopher. He was advised to be pious, fear God and revere 'His Word.' throughout his life. The strangers also forecast Jacob would need to endure misery, poverty, and persecution throughout his life and his courage and love of God would see him safely through.

From 1612 to 1624, he wrote thirty books but his greatest work was his first book, “The Aurora: That Is, the Day-Spring” but the publication was banned by the city council and the shoemaker ostracised ordered never to write again. Despite this his fame grew and Jacob eventually years later resumed his work clandestinely.

John Wesley required all of his preachers study the writings of Jacob Boehme. He remained persecuted throughout his live and predicted the date of his own death in 1624.

The Roman writer, Pliny the Elder, told the story in Naturalis Historia [XXXV, 85[1] (Loeb IX, 323–325)], about the painter Apelles of Kos who was in the habit of hanging his pictures where they could be seen by the passers-by, and listening to their comments. One day a shoemaker criticised the sandals in a certain picture, and found next day that they had been repainted. Proud of his success as a critic, the shoemaker began to find fault with a thigh of the picture, when Apelles called out from behind the canvas, "ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret" (a shoemaker should not judge beyond the shoe).

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