Régine Charron, The "Apocryphon of John" (NHC II, 1) and the Graeco-Egyptian Alchemical Literature, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Nov., 2005), pp. 438-456.
ABSTRACT: The hermetic science known to us under the modern term of 'alchemy' was practised by Egyptian and Jewish 'lovers of wisdom' in the first centuries of the Christian era, as a sacred and mystical art of transformation, regeneration and ultimately of salvation, applied to the human soul as well as to the material elements, especially metals. The remaining Greek writings of these philosophers were collected and edited in 1888 by M. Berthelot, as the Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs. To the few scholars who, in the first half of the last century, devoted their attention to the study of these challenging texts, it appeared that there were links between the salvific doctrine of the alchemists and that of the so-called Gnostics described by the Church Fathers. The purpose of the present article is, first, to introduce the reader to the alchemical literature and, second, to demonstrate that not only the doctrinal, but also the 'practical' side of alchemy shows significant similarities with the rituals of both 'Valentinians' and 'Sethians' communities, better known to us since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library.
Towards a Context for Ibn Umayl, Known
to Chaucer as the Alchemist ‘Senior’
This article will present what we know of the life and times of an important alchemist, Ibn Umayl. It is
entitled ‘Towards a Context’ because I have not yet consulted a number of his treatises, which are mostly
only available as manuscripts. Ibn Umayl’s position in alchemy accords with Hermetic doctrines, and may have developed as a traditionalist reaction to developments in alchemy around the time of Jabir ibn Hayyan. The paper offers an overview of the influence Ibn Umayl on western literature, beginning with a quotation from The Canterbury Tales which shows knowledge of Ibn Umayl. The overview then goes on to look at the reception of his works in Arabic-Islamic alchemy. The last part of the paper, which makes use of published research and unpublished manuscripts, puts together what we know of his life, and places his ideas in the context of a school of thought. The writer is inclined to agree with researchers who say that Ibn Umayl was Egyptian, although the evidence is conflicting. Quoting The Pure Pearl and The Silvery Water in particular, the article emphasizes the alchemist’s faithfulness to Hermetic doctrines, although in a particular, Islamic, dispensation. http://jas.cankaya.edu.tr/gecmisYayinlar/yayinlar/jas11/05%20Peter%20STARR.pdf