The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book

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Princeton University Press, 1994 - 617 pages
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In this monumental work, Raphael Patai, acclaimed author of Hebrew Myths (with Robert Graves) and The Hebrew Goddess, opens up an entirely new field in cultural history by tracing Jewish alchemy from antiquity to the nineteenth century. Until now there has been little attention given to the significant role that Jews played in the field of alchemy. Here, drawing on an enormous range of previously unexplored sources, Patai reveals that Jews were major players in what was for centuries one of humanity's most compelling intellectual obsessions. Among the myriad subjects treated in the book is the close relationship between alchemy and medicine as practiced by Jewish adepts. Other Jewish alchemists combined alchemy with magic or with kabbalistic practices. Still others became, through their alchemical efforts, the forerunners of modern chemistry. The culmination of many years of research, The Jewish Alchemists shows that alchemy was much more than the attempt at transmuting base metals into gold: it was a powerful worldview that assumed an essential unity underlying all of nature - and the power of humans to intervene, with God's help, in nature's course.
 

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THE JEWISH ALCHEMISTS: A History and Source Book

User Review  - Kirkus

A long and quirky look at 1,800 years of minimal Jewish involvement with a pseudoscience, adding little of use either to Jewish history or to the history of science. As he did with The Hebrew Goddess ... Read full review

The Jewish alchemists: a history and source book

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This scholarly work is the first attempt to trace the role of Jews in the field of alchemy from biblical times through the 19th century. A helpful introduction defines alchemy as more than the effort ... Read full review

Contents

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About the author (1994)

Raphael Patai (November 22, 1910 - July 20, 1996), born Ervin György Patai, was a Hungarian-Jewish ethnographer, historian, orientalist and anthropologist. Patai's work was wide-ranging but focused primarily on the cultural development of the ancient Hebrews and Israelites, on Jewish history and culture, and on the anthropology of the Middle East. He was the author of hundreds of scholarly articles and several dozen books, including three autobiographical volumes.

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