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1691-1693. Four books and one pamphlet in two volumes. Quarto. [4],[4],[16],138,[2];[8],262,[2];11; [8],32,188,[2];[6],277,[3] pp., including portrait frontipiece and facing description leaf in first volume and in-text illustration of the Oldenburg Horn on p. 141 of fourth book. Contemporary parchment, manuscript spine titles. Autograph signature of the author on half-title verso of first book, title-page verso of second book, and following the introductions of third and fourth books. Matching contemporary ownership inscriptions of C. V. D. Hell on title pages of first and third books; early ownership inscription of "[?]. [?]. v. d. Bosch" on front free endpaper of both volumes; 1961 gift inscription on front free title page of first volume; occasional contemporary underlining and marginalia throughout; booksellers' pencil notations in front and rear endpapers of both volumes. Boards bowed, parchment moderately soiled and, in first volume, turn-ins separating from boards; edges of first several leaves of first volume a bit worn (not affecting text), light scattered foxing. Very good. First full and authorized edition of Balthasar Bekker's landmark work of demonology, spirit stories, comparative religion, modern biblical exegesis, and Cartesian metaphysics, complete with the rare allegorical frontispiece portrait and bound with a pamphlet from the Cassis of Amsterdam condemning Bekker (see below). Bekker was a Dutch Reformed pastor and theologian, born in Friesland in 1634, educated at Groningen, and based in Amsterdam from 1679 to his death in 1698. Bekker's first major work, DE PHILOSOPHIA CARTESIANA ADMONITIO CANDIDA & SINCERA (Wesel, 1668), established his position that the theologian and the natural philosopher (or "scientist," in today's terms) represent two distinct domains of knowledge, neither of which should be understood with the other's mode of inquiry. In DE BETOWERDE WEERELD (the title translated into English alternately as "The World Bewitch'd" and "The World Turn'd Upside-Down"), his most famous work, Bekker explores concepts and accounts of the Devil, demonic possession, witches, and spirits across world religions, episodes in the Bible, European legends, and recent events. Using Cartesian thought, the hermeneutical principle of accommodation, and general empricial evidence, Bekker concludes that the notion of the Devil having power in the natural world is merely a remnant of pagan religion, misreading of the Bible, and result of superstition: it threatens the radical monotheism of the Abrahamic faiths, contradicts reason, and often results in catastrophe, including the burning of supposed witches. The work was fully translated into French and German within one year and two years, respectively, of the Dutch publication of its final book in 1693, and immediately caused an uproar. The Dutch Reformed Church in Amsterdam stripped Bekker of his position as minister because of the controversy (while maintaining his salary), but as Anna...
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