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Egyptian OedipusAthanasius Kircher and the Secrets of Antiquity$
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Daniel Stolzenberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226924144

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226924151.001.0001

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Ancient Theology and the Antiquarian

Ancient Theology and the Antiquarian

(p.129) Chapter Four Ancient Theology and the Antiquarian
Egyptian Oedipus

Daniel Stolzenberg

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on the historical and doctrinal components of Kircher's hieroglyphic studies. Kircher insisted emphatically on the truth of the historical component of his investigation, which was crucial for his claim to have accurately translated the hieroglyphs. By contrast, his treatment of the doctrinal component was primarily descriptive. Believing that knowledge to be found in the testaments of occult philosophy, Kircher needed familiarity with the Hermetic Corpus, the Chaldean Oracles, and the Kabbalah, just as he needed expertise in paleography and Oriental languages. To use the terminology of nineteenth-century scholarship, one might say that he treated occult philosophy as a Hilfswissenschaft—an auxiliary science, like numismatics or archeology, which the scholar of antiquity must master in order to make correct sense of his sources and bring the past to light.

Keywords:   doctrinal components, hieroglyphic studies, historical component, occult philosophy, Hilfswissenschaft, auxiliary science

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