All Space Will Pass Away: The Spiritual, Spaceless and Incorporeal Heaven of Valentin Weigel (1533–1588)

  • Alessandro ScafiEmail author
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 41)


The cosmology of Valentin Weigel (1533–1588) offers an example of the changing understanding of space and the universe between medieval and modern times. The aim of this essay is to explore his discussion of the nature of space in the treatise Vom Ort der Welt (On the Place of the World, 1576) in relation to his views concerning the Christian heaven and the resurrected body. Adopting the distinction between “locative” and “utopian” tendencies in religion drawn in the field of religious studies by Jonathan Z. Smith, Weigel’s views on earthly space and historical time in relation to heaven and eternity bear the hallmark of a utopian vision. Weigel was an advocate of the true Christian faith—received as a gift of the Holy Spirit acting within the soul and forming a spiritual brotherhood—as opposed to the visible and organised Church, and combined mystical, Lutheran and Paracelsian theories to provide an original way to envisage the relation between time and eternity, space and infinity, human realm and divine dimension. He envisioned the material and visible world as floating against the infinite abyss of God, saw the Kingdom of Heaven as accessible from within and radically opposed spirit and matter, light and darkness, freedom and bondage.


Human Nature Visible World Christian Tradition Utopian Vision Divine Dimension 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aarsleff, Hans. 1976. Weigel, Valentin. In Dictionary of scientific biography, ed. Charles C. Gillispie, 16 vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970–1980, XIV, 225–227.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. 1939. On the heavens, The Loeb Classical Library (transl. W.K.C. Guthrie). London and Cambridge MA: Heinemann and Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Aristotle, 1929. Physics, The Loeb Classical Library (transl. Philip H. Wicksteed and Francis M. Cornford), 2 vols. London and New York: W. Heinemann and G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1929–1934, I.Google Scholar
  4. Bodeus, Richard. 2000. Aristotle and the theology of the living immortals. Albany NY: Suny Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bos, Abraham P. 1994. Cosmic and meta-cosmic theology in greek philosophy and gnosticism. In Hellenization revisited: shaping a christian response within the Greco-Roman world, ed. Wendy E. Helleman, 1–21. Lanham: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  6. Bynum, Caroline Walker. 1995. The resurrection of the body in western christianity, 200–1336. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Clough, Cecil H. 1994. The new world and the Italian Renaissance. In The European outthrust and encounter: the first phase c. 1400–c. 1700: essays in tribute to David Beers Quinn on his 85th birthday, eds. Clough and P.E.H. Hair, 291–328. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cosgrove, Denis E. 2007. Images of Renaissance cosmography, 1450–1650. In The history of cartography, III: cartography in the renaissance, ed. David Woodward, 55–98. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Crane, Nicholas. 2002. Mercator: the man who mapped the planet. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.Google Scholar
  10. Edson, Evelyn. 2007. The world map 1300–1492: the persistence of tradition and transformation. Baltimore MD: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Elders, Leo. 1966. Aristotle’s cosmology: a commentary on the De Caelo. Assen: Van Gorgum and Prakke.Google Scholar
  12. Festugière, A.J. 1990. La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste, II, Le Dieu cosmique, 2nd edn. Paris: J. Gabalda, 1950, repr. Les Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  13. Festugière, A.J. 1967. Hermétisme et mystique païenne. Paris: Aubier-Montaigne.Google Scholar
  14. Gilly, Carlos. 1998. THEOPHRASTIA SANCTA—Paracelsianism as a religion, in conflict with the established churches. In Paracelsus: The Man and His Reputation, His Ideas and Their Transformation, ed. Ole Peter Grell, 151–185. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  15. Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas. 2008. The Western esoteric traditions: a historical introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grant, Edward. 1981. Much ado about nothing: theories of space and vacuum from the middle ages to the scientific revolution. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grant, Edward. 1994. Planets, stars, and orbs: the medieval cosmos, 1200–1687. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Harries, Karsten. 2001. Infinity and perspective. Cambridge MA and London: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hugh of St. Victor. 1939. Didascalicon, ed. Ch.H. Buttimer. Washington DC: The Catholic University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Israel, August. 1888. M. Valentin Weigels Leben und Schriften. Zschopau: F.A. Raschke.Google Scholar
  21. Keizer, Helena Maria. 1999. Life time entirety. A study of AION in greek literature and philosophy, The Septuagint and Philo. E-publication.Google Scholar
  22. Koyré, Alexandre. 1971. Mystiques, spirituels, alchimistes du XVIe siècle allemand. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  23. Koyré, Alexandre. 1957. From the closed world to the infinite universe. Baltimore MD: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Koyré, Alexandre. 1930. Un mystique protestant: Maître Valentin Weigel. Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan.Google Scholar
  25. Lieb, Frietz. 1962. Valentin Weigels Kommentar zur Schöpfungsgeshichte und das Schriftum seines Schülers Benedikt Biedermann: eine literarkritische Untersuchung zur mystischen Theologie des 16. Jahrhunderts. Zürich: EVZ-Verlag.Google Scholar
  26. Markus, Robert A. 1994. How on earth could places become holy? Origins of the christian idea of holy places. Journal of Early Christian Studies 2(3): 257–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Odermatt, Freia. 2008. Der Himmel in uns: Das Selbstverständnis des Seelsorgers Valentin Weigel (1533–1588). Bern: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  28. Opel, Julius Otto. 1864. Valentin Weigel: ein Beitrag zur Literatur- und Kulturgeschichte Deutschlands im 17. Jahrhundert. Leipzig: T. O. Weigel.Google Scholar
  29. Pfefferl, Horst. 2003. Weigel, in Theologische Realenzyklopädie, eds. Gerhard Kraus and others, 36 vols. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 1976–2004, XXXV: 447–453.Google Scholar
  30. Pfefferl, Horst. 1995. Die Rezeption des paracelsischen Schrifttums bei Valentin Weigel: Probleme ihrer Erfoschung am Beispiel der kompilatorischen Schrift ‘Viererlei Auslegung von der Schöpfung’. In Neue Beiträge zur Paracelsus-Forschung, eds. Peter Dilg and Hartmut Rudolph, Hohenheimer Protokolle, 47: 151–165.Google Scholar
  31. Pfefferl, Horst. 1993/94. Das neue Bild Valentin Weigels: Ketzer oder Kirchenmann? Aspekte einer erforderlichen Neuebestimmung seiner kirchen- und theologiegeschichtlichen Position. In Herbergen der Christenheit, Jahrbuch für deutsche Kirchengeschichte, 18: 67–79.Google Scholar
  32. Pfefferl, Horst. 1991. Die Überlieferung der Schriften Valentin Weigels, Inaugural Dissertation. Marburg an der Lahn: Philipps-Universität, Marburg.Google Scholar
  33. Pfefferl, Horst. 1988. Valentin Weigel und Paracelsus. In Paracelsus und sein dämonengläubiges Jahrhundert, ed. Sepp Domandl, 77–95. Vienna: Verband der Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaften Osterreichs.Google Scholar
  34. Randles, W.G.L. 2000. Geography, cartography and nautical science in the Renaissance: the impact of the great discoveries. Aldershot, Hants, England and Brookfield VT: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  35. Randles, W.G.L. 1999. The unmaking of the medieval Christian cosmos, 1500–1760: from solid heavens to boundless aether. Aldershot, Hants, England and Brookfield VT: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  36. Smith, Jonathan Z. 1990. Divine drudgery: on the comparison of early christianities and the religions of late antiquity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  37. Smith, Jonathan Z. 1978. Map is not territory: studies in the history of religion. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  38. Solmsen, Friedrich. 1960. Aristotle’s system of the physical world: a comparison with his predecessors. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Telle, Joachim. 2011. Weigel, in Killy Literaturlexikon: Autoren und Werke des deutschsprachigen Kulturraums, eds. Wilhelm Kühlmann and others, 13 vols, Berlin, De Gruyter 2008–2012, XII.Google Scholar
  40. Weeks, Andrew. 2005. Weigel. In Dictionary of gnosis and western esotericism, ed. Wouter J. Hanegraaff et al., 2 vols, II, 1165–1166. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  41. Weeks, Andrew. 2000. Valentin Weigel (1533–1588): German religious dissenter, speculative theorist, and advocate of tolerance. Albany NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  42. Weigel, Valentin. 2014a. Vom Ort der Welt, in Sämtliche Schriften, ed. Horst Pfefferl, 12 vols, X, 1–83. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann.Google Scholar
  43. Weigel, Valentin. 2014b. Vom wahren seligmachenden Glauben, in Sämtliche Schriften, ed. Horst Pfefferl, 12 vols, V, 1–70. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann.Google Scholar
  44. Weigel, Valentin. 2003. On the place of the world, transl. Andrew Weeks. In Valentin Weigel, Selected spiritual writings, 63–142. New York-Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.Google Scholar
  45. Wuttke, Dieter. 2007. German humanist perspectives on the history of discovery, 1493–1534. Coimbra: Centro Interuniversitário de Estudos Germanisticos.Google Scholar
  46. Zeller, Winfried. 1979. Naturmystik und spiritualistische Theologie bei Valentin Weigel. In Epochen der Naturmystik: Hermetische Tradition im Wissentschaftlichen Fortschritt/Grands Moments de la mystique de la nature/Mystical Approaches to Nature, eds. Antoine Faivre and Rolf Christian Zimmermann, 105–124. Berlin: Erich Schmidt.Google Scholar
  47. Zeller, Winfried. 1965. Die Schriften Valentin Weigels: eine literarkritische Untersuchung. Berlin: Ebering, 1940; Valduz: Kraus Reprint.Google Scholar
  48. Zinn, Grover A. 2005. Exile, the Abbey of Saint-Victor at Paris and Hugh of Saint-Victor. In Medieval paradigms: essays in honor of Jeremy Duquesnay Adams, ed. Stephanie Hayes-Healy, 2 vols, II, 83–111. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Warburg Institute, School of Advanced StudyUniversity of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations