JF Ptak Science Books Post 1439
There appeared earlier in this blog a bit on an engraving depicting an exploding Earth, one of a series of twelve images, eleven of which were unavailable at that time--not so anymore. So an update to this post is happily made, starting with the exploding part (below), a nasty millennial vision steeped in a volcanological/geological/meteorological 18th-century primordial stew, the Earth in a sea of fire and blasted volcanoes, lightning striking from above:
[All image sources: Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Weimar.]
Hades, Heaven, Meru, Valhalla, Elysium, Olympus--the places at the end of the terrestrial road, the great emancipation. In some theological doctrines these places are reached collectively after the great conflict at the end of time; the end of days in the Old Testament, when the earth is devoured by holy vengeful wrath and reconstituted for godly comings –and-goings.
This engraving is one of twelve found in a fine little book, the brainchild of clergyman/semi-scientist Jodocus Frisch (1714-1787), who delivered to the (un-) waiting world his vision of how the earth and heaven will come to an end, there at the end of days. Die Welt im Feuer, Oder das Wahre Vergehen und Ende der Welt, Durch den letzten Sünd-Brand (printed in Sorau by Gottlob Heboldm in 1746) is one of very few works that depict (in illustration) the destruction of the Earth, and even though Frisch illuminates biblically-based theory, the idea of the earth exploding into bits in primordial fire and so on was extraordinary. The images were done in four colors representing the four elements: yellow, brown, green and white represented (respectively) fire, earth, water and air. In this image, we see the fire-centric earth encircled by a sphere of water, which is surrounded by a sphere of fire, which in turn is surrounded by a sphere of air, with much bad stuff happening.
Not having the book in hand I’m relying on the description of the Dutch bookseller Asher & Company, an old-line bookseller of very fine antiquarian works, which wrote the following descriptions of the other images in the book (and which appears for sale right now at their site):
“The second and third engravings show how the sphere of water disappeared after the torrential rains of the deluge, leaving the earth directly exposed to the sun. In the fourth and fifth engravings the earth is consumed by fire from within and without, demonstrating in what way the biblical prophecies about the destruction of heaven and earth may come to pass. Plates 6 and 7 depict the new heaven and earth that look entirely similar to plates 1 and 2, the first heaven and earth. Plates 8 and 9 show heaven and earth in their present state with precise specifications of what the biblical vocabulary names "heaven." Plate 10 shows how the sphere of water breaks the rays of the sun in such a way that they shine on all parts of our planet in equal manner, wherefore all regions have a temperate climate. However without the tempering function of the sphere of water, the air focuses the rays of the sun in the equatorial zone.”
The water of the great deluge now gone, revealing the land masses, plate 2:
Plate 5, on the destruction, is seen above, but reproduced here to keep everything in order:
Plate 8 detail:
1. Frisch, Jodocus Leopold: Die Welt im Feuer, oder das wahre Vergehen und Ende der Welt, durch den letzten Sünd-Brand. 8 Bl., 175 S. Titel in Schwarz und Rot. Mit 12 kolorierten Kupfertafeln. 20 x 17 cm. Lederband d. Z. (leicht berieben und bestoßen, Deckel mit kleineren Schabspuren, ob. Kapital etwas lädiert). Soltau, Gottlob Hebold, 1746.
2. The chapter headings, as follwos:
I. Warum soll die ietzige Welt vergehen?
II. Wenn diese Welt vergehen wird?
III. Was wird eigentlich vergehen oder zergehen?
IV. Womit oder WOdruch wird dieses alles verderbet und verwandelt wwerden?
V. Wie wird die Welt vergehen?
VI. Wie wird es hernach mit der verbrennenden Erdwelt...zugehen?
VII. Wie wrid es in den neuen Himmel und in der neuen Erde beschaffen seyn?