In the paper, Geissmar-Brandi provides a paraphrasing of the latin text that accompanies each diagram (each considered a "chapter"). This is this basis for the english explanations included below - they have only been slightly edited to fit this format. After the 20 chapters, Geissmar-Brandi provides some comparisons to other works of Van Veen, and those of Kepler and Jacob Boehme, parts of which I will include at the end as well.
Physicae et Theologicae Conclusiones (1621)
In the prologue Van Veen refers in general terms to the Platonic tradition of diagrammatic explanation in mathematical figures which he wishes to revive and apply to theology. His central concern is the problem of predestination and free will: if man partakes in the nature of God and therefore has a capacity for free action, how can this be reconciled with his falling into sin? The question is to be addressed and demonstrated in the illustrations. For Van Veen the deity in man (deitas hominis) is the original cause of justification and condemnation; man’s separation from God entails damnation and his conjunction with him brings salvation. Applying the alchemical theory of Paracelsus (and his supposed predecessor Isaacus Hollandus) that all entities are composed of three substances, he aims to show the triune nature of body (salt), spirit (mercury) and soul (sulphur). Despite his assurance at the outset that he is convinced that his conclusions are in perfect conformity with the teaching of the Catholic Church, it is clear that the material was controversial. For a note appended by the printer to the author’s preface seeks to relieve Van Veen of responsibility for the publication: it maintains the pictures were engraved and the work was then published without the author’s knowledge.
The book opens with God, designated appropriately by the letter A: ‘God the ineffable, of one being yet three, eternal, embracing everything' ('Deus Ineffabilis, Ens unicum, Trinum, Aeternum, omnia continens A'). The corresponding picture (PI. 22a) consists solely of a capital A at the centre of a white square of ground. The letter both represents and signifies the space entirely occupied by God.
Being (Ens) and Nothingness (Nihil)
This chapter concerns the nihil at the centre of ens which causes light, life, intelligence and other qualities of ens to be pushed into the central abyss of darkness, death, confusion and other things opposed to being. This is illustrated in the letter B bounded by a circle, with A—the sign of God or ens unicum —shifted to the middle of the upper edge, so that it is directly above B and if joined to it would form a vertical line. In the figures which follow this line constitutes the compositional basis, with B remaining the centre of a circle. The circle is essential to most of the later figures and is generally interpreted as a sphere.
Being Seperated from Nothingness
In the illustration to this chapter A appears with B within the central circle while B accompanies A at the top of the page: this is because the separation of ens and nihil cannot be absolute, since ens embraces everything. Thus even in the depths of being nothingness remains, and in the depths of nothingness is infinite being. Darkness is not the privation of light hut a true entity. Here, as often elsewhere in the book, Van Veen cites an apposite scriptural passage, in this case referring to Exodus 10.21 on the darkness that was thick and palpable.
The Creation of the Universe
God creates the entire universe (BB). with its natures and created things and its spirit (AAA), from ens universi and its prima materia by means of his word (ens potentissimum). In the view of some the universe consists of eleven spheres (rather than the nine of the ancients); it is not to be excluded that there may be infinite worlds, but given that there is no way to demonstrate this, humans should not seek such knowledge (cf. Romans 11.20).
The Creation of Man
The account of the creation of man in this chapter is based on the assumption of Man’s formal likeness—as a composite of body, spirit and soul—to the triune God. By his free will, given solely to him by God, he is distinguished from other creatures. Man is therefore possessed of a freedom which in this respect makes him the equal of God. Therefore divine foreknowledge and predestination are not definite and determined, since they can be obstructed (impediri possint) by workings of the deity in man. Man is illustrated in the picture's centre by three intersecting circles and the triangle or letter A, which represents the deity in man, inscribed within them. This motif will recur throughout the book.
The Fall of Lucifer
Here Van Veen explains in cosmological terms the fall of Lucifer (CCC) and his followers which occasioned God's first act of judgement.
The Working of the Deity in Man
This operation is nothing other than free will. Man's passions (EEE) incline him either towards God the creator (A) or towards creation (BB). It is on this basis that God will eventually judge him, leading to his damnation or salvation. God, by contrast, as infinite being (H), can neither fall nor be moved by passions; however, in sphere G, which exists between God and the created universe, the deity, in whom all time, motion and change exist, 'is moved in stability' (in stabili movetur). The illustration attempts to represent these complex ideas. The standard image of the triunity of creatures, the three circles, has been shifted to the picture's centre, with DDD representing man and EEE standing for his passions.
God permeates the entire universe with his life, intelligence and substance which are inseparable one from another. He directs his divine powers towards whatever he wishes to happen, with the sole exception of the deity in man (A), which, since it is free (libera), cannot be compelled by God either towards or away from him.
The Fall of Adam
Adam (DDD), as a creature of the lower world, succumbed to the natural infiu-ences of the universe BB and, being deficient in his deity (delta), inclined (E) towards the created world. Consequently, he was the second, after Lucifer, to meet with God’s judgement and suffer damnation.
God (A), however, saves Adam and his progeny from Lucifer’s fate by sending his son (A), through the Holy Spirit (A), to the Virgin Mary (GGG), and through her the entire universe is filled with his divine and corporeal being (cross). Under the new׳ dispensation all of nature is under Christ’s control, so that prediction of human events through the stars is no longer valid (except by explicit divine ordinance). Moreover, it is to be understood that although the Fall of Man was not predestined, in the course of time God ordained the advent of Christ for human salvation.
Even though each man has a predestined disposition to good or evil, depending on the seeds which are sent from heaven to him (H, from God’s right and HH from his left), man still retains free will. For just as one should not blame the potter for making 'one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour' [Romans 9.21], man’s free will allows him to be turned from bad to good or vice versa. All justification depends on the deity in man, not on man’s disposition: a man with a bad nature who turns to God receives a new and better ‘ray of predestination’ (I) and is saved, whereas someone who does not attribute his good nature to God is damned. God’s free will to predestine is not, however, diminished; for the first rays of predestination remain even though (in cases where the deity in man A is properly disposed towards God) he can send another better ray (I) to counteract the effect of the first.
The Source of Evil
Evil is an inclination of the deity in man away from the creator and towards the created world; it is thus the deity in man. being free, which generates both good and evil. Man has in and around himself God (A) and the universe (B); hence in Pl. 23c, AB is shown within the triangle. Evil comes into being when man’s free disposition towards God and the universe is wrong. A well-disposed will, on the other hand, is given to man by God as a gift of grace. But the free will of the deity in man always precedes the grace which brings the new predestination of God (M). God has mercy only on those whose deity already tends towards him and hardens the heart of those whose deity constantly turns away from him towards the created world. Consequently, there is no question of God saving one man and damning another without cause.
Grace and Good Works
Good works that come about through the first predestination arc not meritori-ous but can move the deity in man to incline (F) to the creator (A), who, in turn, through the new predestination (K) gives meritorious works as a gift to man. These are ascribed to man as if they were his own and therefore earn him salvation. If he then attributes them to the grace of God, he constantly receives and does more and better works (L). But if he believes that these come through his own powers, he loses whatever good he has. Therefore, men should not be judged by their works because we cannot know which are meritorious and which not* since the judgement of God is hidden from our eyes.
The Reality of Man’s Imagination
Imagination, like all created things, is real and constant in its body, spirit and soul. Just as God (AAA) through his imagination or verbum (NNN) has created the universe (B). so the imagination of man (O) creates real beings (entia realia) (P) which act corporally on things and bodies. If imagination or thought in the natural, rational spirit is accompanied by faith it extends itself marvellously. The state of the deity in man, when with faith it soars upwards supernaturally by means of the imagination, cannot be understood by natural reason; knowledge of it is for God alone.
Death and Purgatory
The Last Judgement and Resurrection
On the Virtue and Presence of God in the Eucharist
How the Gentiles and Pagans may be Saved
How Corporeal Things and External Ceremonies Promote the Deity in Man
F I N I S