Tomberg's Appendix to Letter 1: The Magician


Tomberg first reproduces the text of the Emerald Tablet, then says: 

    "As the above (Latin) text has been known in the Occident only since Albertus Magnus (1193/1206 - 1280) and as no other text or manuscript for an earlier date could be found over the centuries, historians at the beginning of this century were of the opinion that Albertus Magnus was the author of the Emerald Table.  It was considered apocryphal not only from the point of view of its authenticity as a work of Hermes Trismegistus, but also from the point of view of its intrinsic authenticity as a work worthy of inclusion in the Corpus Hermeticum ...

 Now, the text of the Emerald Table is not contained in what is considered to be the most complete edition of the Corpus Hermeticum    that of Walter Scott, Hermetica (4 volumes; Oxford, 1924).  ... 

Scott wrote the following: 

    '... the masses of rubbish which fall under the ... head ... of writings concerning astrology, magic, alchemy and kindred forms of pseudo-science ... the contents of which are also ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus. ' 

    The criterion which Scott Makes use of ted is whether to establish if a writing attributed to Hermes Trismegistus is to be included in the Corpus Hermeticum or to be rejected is whether it is concerned with religious and philosophical problems or not. ... 

However, Hermes himself says: 

    'I bear in mind that many of my writings have been addressed to him (Ammon), as again many of my treatises on Nature ... have been addressed to Tat (Ascelpius)'

    How can it be permitted to reject all the writings on Nature and to consider the sole category ('Addressed to Ammon' as authentic when one has knowledge of the fact that the author of a writing (Asclepius), recognized as authentic in the Corpus Hermeticum has proclaimed in an explicit manner that he is the author of another category of writings, namely those concerned with Nature?


    Perhaps because at the time of Walter Scott's researches no other text of the Emerald Table had been found prior to the thirteenth century? "

    However, it turns out that there were earlier manuscripts.  In 1926, an Arabic manuscript of The Emerald Tablet was published by Julius Ruska: 

    "The alchemical treatise was written by a priest named Sagijus of Nabulus - its contents originating from the master Balinas the Wise (which is the Arabic name for Apollonius of Tyana), who himself discovered it in an underground chamber."  

It is worth quoting the introduction to this text of the Emerald Tablet: 

    "Here is that which the priest Sagijus of Nabulus has dictated concerning the entrance of Balinas into the hidden chamber (the following words of wisdom were found at the end of the book by Balinas the wise): After my entrance into the chamber, where the talisman was set up, I came up to an old man sitting on a golden throne, who was holding an emerald table in one hand.  And behold, the following - in Syriac, the primordial language - was written thereupon:"

What follows this introduction in the appendix is the similar, though slightly different text of the Emerald Tablet based on this other manuscript.  

Tomberg goes on to say: 

    "But Julius Ruska is not the only one to have discovered an Arabic text of the Emerald Table. ...

    This text is part of the Second Book of the Element of the Foundation by Jabir or Geber (722 - 815).  Prior to this discovery, made in 1923, only the mediaeval Latin text was known of.  Subsequently, another variant in Arabic was discovered by Ruska in a book entitled The Secret of Creation attributed to Appolonius.  Jabir (or Geber) himself, in giving the text of the Emerald Table states that he is quoting Apollonius.  Now, Kraus has shown that The Secret of Creation was written, at least in its final edition, during the Caliphate of al-Ma'mun (813-833), and it includes parallels with a book written at this time by Job of Edessa.  The latter was a scholar whose translations from Syriac into Arabic merited the praise of even such a severe critic as Hunain ibn Ishaq ... "

"The present state of historical studies on the Emerald Table is therefore as follows; it was known in Arabic as a translation from Syriac at the beginning of the ninth century; two variants in Arabic are extant; there is no reason to reject the Arabic tradition that it was translated from Syriac, or for that matter the tradition that it originated with Apollonius. 

  One could add that if there is no reason to doubt that it originated with Apollonius, there is no more reason to reject the tradition that Apollonius in his turn found it in the manner described by the priest Sagijus of Nabulus.  Be that as it may, it is immediately apparent that the Emerald Table is of a considerably more ancient origin than was believed up to 1923, and consequently there is room to reconsider the opinion that it is not worthy of inclusion in the Corpus Hermeticum."

"For our part, we have every reason - subjective as well as objective - sufficient for us in foro interno (i.e., in good conscience) to be sure that the Emerald Table is without doubt the only absolutely authentic fragment in the whole Corpus Hermeticum.  And this, moreover, in the sense that its author is neither the 'third Hermes' nor the 'second', but actually the first, that is to say the founder of the Hermetic tradition as such ... "

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