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Newton the Alchemist

Sir Isaac Newton, the famous seventeenth-century mathematician and scientist, though not generally known as an alchemist, practiced the art with a passion. Though he wrote over a million words on the subject, after his death in 1727, the Royal Society deemed that they were "not fit to be printed." The papers were rediscovered in the middle of the twentieth century and most scholars now concede that Newton was first an foremost an alchemist. It is also becoming obvious that the inspiration for Newton's laws of light and theory of gravity came from his alchemical work.

If one looks carefully, in the light of alchemical knowledge, at the definitive biography, Sir Isaac Newton by J. W. V. Sullivan, it is quite easy to realize the alchemical theories from which he was working. Sir Arthur Eddington, in reviewing this book, says: "The science in which Newton seems to have been chiefly interested, and on which he spent most of his time was alchemy. He read widely and made innumerable experiments, entirely without fruit so far as we know." One of his servants records: "He very rarely went to bed until two or three of the clock, sometimes not till five or six, lying about four or five hours, especially at springtime or autumn, at which time he used to employ about six weeks in his laboratory, the fire scarce going out night or day. What his aim might be I was unable to penetrate into." The answer is that Newton's experiments were concerned with nothing more or less than alchemy. (from Alchemy Rediscovered and Restored by A. Cockren)

As a practicing alchemist, Newton spent days locked up in his laboratory, and not a few have suggested that he finally succeeded in transmuting lead into gold. Perhaps that explains one of the oddest things about his life. At the height of his career, instead of accepting a professorship at Cambridge, he was appointed Director of the Mint with the responsibility of securing and accounting for England's repository of gold.

In fact, Newton -- the revered founder of modern science and the mechanistic universe -- also ranks as one of the greatest spiritual alchemists of all time. In his The Religion of Isaac Newton (Oxford 1974), F.E. Manuel concluded: "The more Newton's theological and alchemical, chronological and mythological work is examined as a whole corpus, set by the side of his science, the more apparent it becomes that in his moments of grandeur he saw himself as the last of the interpreters of God's will in actions, living on the fulfillment of times."

The Hermetic Tradition

This view has become more accepted in recent years, as more of Newton's private papers and alchemical treatises are being reexamined. "Like all European alchemists from the Dark Ages to the beginning of the scientific era and beyond," states Michael White in Isaac Newton:The Last Sorcerer (Addison Wesley 1997), "Newton was motivated by a deep-rooted commitment to the notion that alchemical wisdom extended back to ancient times. The Hermetic tradition -- the body of alchemical knowledge -- was believed to have originated in the mists of time and to have been given to humanity through supernatural agents."

Newton's Translation of the Emerald Tablet

It is true without lying, certain and most true. That which is Below is like that which is Above and that which is Above is like that which is Below to do the miracles of the Only Thing. And as all things have been and arose from One by the mediation of One, so all things have their birth from this One Thing by adaptation. The Sun is its father; the Moon its mother; the Wind hath carried it in its belly; the Earth is its nurse. The father of all perfection in the whole world is here. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into Earth. Separate the Earth from the Fire, the subtle from the gross, sweetly with great industry. It ascends from the Earth to the Heavens and again it descends to the Earth and receives the force of things superior and inferior. By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world and thereby all obscurity shall fly from you. Its force is above all force, for it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing. So was the world created. From this are and do come admirable adaptations, whereof the process is here in this. Hence am I called Hermes Trismegistus, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world. That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended.

Newton on Keeping Alchemy Secret

Isaac Newton wrote fellow alchemist Robert Boyle a letter urging him to keep "high silence" in publicly discussing the principles of alchemy. "Because the way by the Mercurial principle may be impregnated has been thought fit to be concealed by others that have know it," Newton wrote, "and therefore may possibly be an inlet to something more noble that is not to be communicated without immense damage to the world if there be any verity in [the warning of the] Hermetic writers. There are other things besides the transmutation of metals which none but they understand." According to B.J.T. Dobbs in The Foundations of Newton's Alchemy (Cambridge University Press, 1984), "The fact that Newton never published a work on alchemy cannot be taken to mean that he knew he had failed [at the Great Work]. On the contrary, it probably means that he had enough success to think that he might be on the track of something of fundamental importance and so had good reason for keeping his 'high silence,' even though there is nothing to indicate that he himself was searching for that mysterious "inlet to something more noble."

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Mysterium Coniunctionis
John Maynard Keynes is known to most people as an economist and for developing Keynesian economics in particular.

Keynes is far less well known for something else, equally remarkable. For it was Keynes who brought to the world, in 1947, the fact that Isaac Newton was a notable alchemist.

Quote:Isaac Newton: a Christian Alchemist

From the time of Voltaire, Isaac Newton has been portrayed as the "supreme rationalist." While his biographers concentrated on his great scientific and mathematical achievements, they all but suppressed his interests in religion, magic, and alchemy. Things changed in 1947, when the economist John Maynard Keynes published an essay about Newton's work in alchemy. He had just purchased a cache of Newton's alchemical notes and manuscripts at a public auction which university libraries had rejected as worthless. Eventually, renegade researchers got access to these forgotten writings of Newton. By the 1970's, revisionist papers started to appear revealing a very different Newton. Today, science historians have been forced to admit that Newton was, in fact, a deeply religious man. At the heart of his religion was his fervent belief in alchemy.

While Newton was formulating his most important scientific theories and creating the calculus, he was privately studying alchemical and religious texts simultaneously. Science, alchemy, and Chrisitianity are co-mingled in Newton's mind, that is clear from a comparison of his private and published writings. Newton wrote about a million words on the subject of alchemy, none of it published. He also kept meticulous records of his alchemical experiments over a 25 year period, from the middle of the 1660's to 1695. Ultimately, Newton used the pneuma concept of alchemy to infuse the mechanical universe of Descartes with an active, all-knowing spirit of God. There can be no doubt that religion was the primary motivation for Newton's scientific work and that alchemy, in particular, influenced his concept of gravity and of force in general.

Newton in fancy dress, from a 1970 English one pound note.

Before describing Newton's alchemical work, it is necessary to explain a few things about Newton's Christian beliefs which are quite different from what most of us were taught in Sunday school. First, Newton believed that church teachings as practiced by Catholics and Anglicans were totally corrupted. Dan Brown used this fact in his book The Da Vinci Code. Specifically, Newton rejected the concept of the trinity because he did not believe that Jesus or the Holy Ghost were on an equal footing with God. Newton's God reigned supreme: all-knowing and present everywhere in the universe. Newton found that in nature there was much evidence of "choice" not "chance." If nature seems to follow physical "laws" consistantly, it is because God supervises each and every event taking place in the world. God, according to Newton, did not leave the scene after the creation. These were dangerous beliefs which Newton had to keep private since his job at Cambridge University depended on his public compliance with Anglican doctrines.

Newton's hostility towards Catholics, especially French Catholics, was not unusual in the 17th century after the English civil war. There were several plots by the French to place a Catholic king upon the English throne. Consequently, relations between England and France went from bad to worse. What is strange is Newton's belief that before the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, all of the laws of science were known and understood. Natural philosphers like himself were merely "recovering" knowledge from the time of Eden. Newton was the not the first natural philosopher to try to "Christianize" science and, in this way, make it less threatening. He kept it to himself, however; along with another surprising idea. He believed that ancient philosophers such as Pythagoras and Plato wrote about gravity and the inverse square law! Newton believed that he had found evidence of the inverse square law in the ancient concept of "the harmony of the spheres," specifically in the connection between tension and pitch in a stringed instrument. Newton spent years scouring ancient texts looking for more evidence of gravity buried in arcane symbolism.

A medieval alchemist at his still.
Click for more info about alchemical symbols

The more cryptic the symbolism, the more convinced Newton was that it contained some important truth. This is what attracted him to alchemy: an ancient, quasi-religion, rich in chemical symbols and bizarre drawings with human figures representing events in distillation experiments. Newton spent an enormous amount of time reading, copying, and writing about alchemical theories. He owned a total of 1752 books of which 369 were scientific and most of these were about alchemy. He also owned 170 books on what was called "practical magic."

In Newton's manuscript MS 3975, he kept 25 years of records of his alchemical experiments using gold, lead, and mercury metals. He also wrote 3 versions of an Index Chemicus with over 900 headings, 5000 page references, and 100 authors cited. During this time, he worked primarily alone in a shed near his room at Cambridge University. Sometimes his assistant, Humphrey Newton (no relation), worked with him. Newton shared some of his findings with other alchemists such as Robert Boyle, but most of his work he kept to himself. Unlike Boyle, Newton practiced what he called a "high silence." He thought of his work in alchemy as "noble" or sacred, not to be shared under any circumstances with lesser minds or, as Newton put it, "the vulgar."

Click for illustration of Newton's rooms at Cambridge.

After anlyzing Newton's unpublished manuscripts on alchemy, it is clear that Newton incorporated concepts from alchemy into his religious beliefs. Newton rejects Descartes' clockwork universe because it had no spiritual dimension. Instead, he infuses his universe with what he called a "vegetative spirit" or what alchemists called "the pneuma," a mysterious, holy energy from the Gods. He also believed there was an additional substance permeating all of 3-D space called the "ether." Light waves and sound waves as well as planets and stars traveled through this ether. Newton believed that it was the interaction between the pneuma and the ether with molecules of matter that gave rise to all the chemical reactions observed in nature.

To explain how matter was created in the universe, Newton adopted some ideas of Paracelsus, a Renaissance alchemist who was also something of a social activist. Paracelsus influenced different groups in Europe at different times. For example, he was popular with the French Huguenots; and in Bavaria, Germany, his alchemical philosophy was taught for a time in the universities. Paracelsus believed that the creation story in Genesis actually described the distillation of substances with God as the supreme adept. Adam, Eve, and the snake are symbols like the figures in an alchemical illustration. God the alchemist creates all the elements and minerals in the universe. In this way, alchemy is central to Newton's belief in Christianity and science.

Newton in 1702 based on a portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller

Newton wanted to publish his theories about chemistry; he prepared several manuscripts. They were never published because he was afraid of lawsuits over priority. Eventually, disciples of Newtonianism published textbooks advancing Newton's chemical theories. In later editions of Opticks (1706, 1717), Newton speculated about how microscopic forces analogous to gravity might explain displacement reactions, precipitation, and other chemical phenomena. Supporters John Keill and John Freind published papers with experimental evidence for these attractive forces. In their papers they cited Newton as an authority. The word alchemy, however, is never used.

a 19th c. cartoon of Newton with a lady friend

Ironically, it is these alchemical beliefs which sustained Newton for two decades of intense study. He was socially isolated with only one or two friends and no wife, girlfriend or mistress. Voltaire wrote that, concerning women, Newton "had no passion or weakness." When his roomate at Cambridge moved out after 20 years, Newton suffered a deep depression or a psychotic break (historians aren't sure which). His roomate married and became a clergyman. Afterwards, Newton left Cambridge, and his most productive years were over. He got involved in running the Royal mint and presiding over the Royal Society. He never married, although he was certainly in a position to if he wanted. One website mockingly calls Newton "the 40-year-old virgin," and maybe he was. It seems that what people today find difficult to accept about Newton is that the great scientist was a celibate religious.

Copyright 2007 Allison Nies


The Last Sorcerer, by Michael White, 1997, Perseus Books

The Janus Faces of Genius, The Role of Alchemy in Newton's Thought, by Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, 1991, Cambridge University Press

The Hunting of the Greene Lyon, Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, 1975, Cambridge University Press

Let Newton Be!, edited by Fauvel, Flood, Shortland, and Wilson, 1988, Oxford University Press
"Newton, Matter, and Magic" by John Henry, page 127
"The Secret Life of an Alchemist" by Jan Golinski, page 147
"The God of Isaac Newton" by John Brooke, page 169

Newton, The Father of Modern Astronomy, by Jean-Pierre Maury, Documents: "Voltaire on Newton and Descartes," page 126, 1992, Abrams Inc. Publishers

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Rembrandt's vision of the alchemical "Stone"

Quote:Isaac Newton's occult studies
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colorized engraving after Enoch Seeman's 1726 portrait of Newton
The life of
Isaac Newton
Early life
Middle years
Later life
Writing Principia
Religious views
Occult studies
Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727), the noted British scientist and mathematician, wrote many works that would now be classified as occult studies.
These occult works explored chronology, alchemy, and Biblical interpretation (especially of the Apocalypse).
Newton's scientific work may have been of lesser personal importance to him, as he placed emphasis on rediscovering the occult wisdom of the ancients. In this sense, some have commented that the common reference a "Newtonian Worldview" as being purely mechanistic is somewhat inaccurate. After purchasing and studying Newton's alchemical works in 1942, economist John Maynard Keynes, for example, opined that "Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians."
However, it should be noted that in the pre-Modern Era of Newton's lifetime, the educated embraced a world view different from that of later centuries. Distinctions taken for granted today – such as between science, superstition, and pseudoscience – were still being formulated, and a devoutly Christian Biblical perspective permeated Western culture.
Contents [hide]
1 Newton's alchemical research and writings
1.1 The Philosopher's Stone
2 Biblical studies
2.1 Newton's studies of the Temple of Solomon
2.2 Newton's prophecy
2.3 A.D. 2060
3 Newton's chronology
3.1 Newton's Atlantis
4 Newton & Secret Societies
4.1 Newton & The Rosicrucians
4.2 Newton & Freemasonry
4.3 Newton & The Priory of Sion
5 References
6 External links
[edit]Newton's alchemical research and writings

Much of what are known as Isaac Newton's occult studies can largely be attributed to his study of alchemy.
Newton was deeply interested in all forms of natural sciences and material theory, an interest that ultimately would lead to some of his better-known contributions to science. During Newton's lifetime the study of chemistry was still in its infancy, thereby leading many of his experimental studies to consist of the use of esoteric language and vague terminology more accurately associated with alchemy and occultism. It would be several decades after Newton's death that experiments of stoichiometry under the pioneering works of Antoine Lavoisier were conducted and analytical chemistry, with its associated nomenclature, would come to resemble modern chemistry as we know it today.
Much of Newton's writing on alchemy may have been lost in a fire in his laboratory, so the true extent of his work in this area may have been larger than is currently known. Newton also suffered a nervous breakdown during his period of alchemical work, which is thought by some due to the psychological transformation that alchemy was originally designed to induce, though there is also speculation it may have been some form of chemical poisoning (possibly from mercury, lead, or some other substance).

An 1874 engraving showing a probable apocryphal account of Newton's lab fire. In the story, Newton's dog started the fire, burning 20 years of research. Newton is thought to have said,
"O Diamond, Diamond, thou little knowest the mischief thou hast done."[1]
Newton's writings suggest that one of the main goals of his alchemy may have been the discovery of The Philosopher's Stone (a material believed to turn base metals into gold), and perhaps to a lesser extent, the discovery of the highly coveted Elixir of Life.[2]
Some practices of alchemy were banned in England during Newton's lifetime, due in part to unscrupulous practitioners who would often promise wealthy benefactors unrealistic results in an attempt to swindle money. The English Crown, also fearing the potential devaluation of gold, should The Philosopher's Stone actually be discovered, made penalties for alchemy very severe. In some cases the punishment for unsanctioned alchemy would include the public hanging of an offender on a gilded scaffold while adorned with tinsel and other items.[2] It was for this reason, and the potential scrutiny that he feared from his peers within the scientific community, that Newton may have deliberately left his work on alchemical subjects unpublished. Newton was well known as being highly sensitive to criticism, such as the numerous instances when he was criticized by Robert Hooke, and his admitted reluctance to publish any substantial information regarding Calculus before 1693. A perfectionist by nature, Newton also refrained from publication of material that he felt was incomplete, as evident from a thirty-eight year gap in time from Newton's alleged conception of Calculus in 1666 and its final full publication in 1704, which would ultimately lead to the infamous Newton vs. Leibniz Calculus Controversy.
In 1936, a collection of Isaac Newton's unpublished works were auctioned by Sotheby's on behalf of Gerard Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth, who had inherited them from Newton's great-niece. Known as the "Portsmouth Papers", this material consisted of three hundred twenty-nine lots of Newton's manuscripts, over a third of which were filled with content that appeared to be alchemical in nature. At the time of Newton's death this material was considered "unfit to publish" by Newton's estate, and consequently fell into obscurity until their somewhat sensational reemergence in 1936.[3]
At the auction many of these documents were purchased by economist John Maynard Keynes, who throughout his life, collected many of Newton's alchemical writings. Much of the Keynes collection later passed to eccentric document collector Abraham Yahuda, who was himself a vigorous collector of Isaac Newton's original manuscripts.
Many of the documents collected by Keynes and Yahuda are now in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem. In recent years, several projects have begun to gather, catalogue, and transcribe the fragmented collection of Newton's work on alchemical subjects and make them freely available for online access. Two of these are The Chymistry of Isaac Newton Project supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, and The Newton Project supported by the U.K. Arts and Humanities Research Board. In addition, The Jewish National and University Library has published a number of high-quality scanned images of various Newton documents[4].
[edit]The Philosopher's Stone
Of the material sold during the 1936 Sotheby's auction, several documents indicate an interest by Newton in the procurement or development of The Philosopher's Stone. Most notably are documents entitled, "Artephius his secret Book", followed by "The Epistle of Iohn Pontanus, wherein he beareth witness of ye book of Artephius", these are themselves a collection of excerpts from another work entitled, "Nicholas Flammel, His Exposition of the Hieroglyphicall Figures which he caused to be painted upon an Arch in St Innocents Church-yard in Paris. Together with The secret Booke of Artephius, And the Epistle of Iohn Pontanus: Containing both the Theoricke and the Practicke of the Philosophers Stone". This work may also have been referenced by Newton in its Latin version found within Lazarus Zetzner's, "Theatrum Chemicum", a volume often associated with the Turba Philosophorum and other early European alchemical manuscripts. Nicolas Flamel, (one subject of the aforementioned work) was a notable, though mysterious figure, often associated with the discovery of The Philosopher's Stone, Hieroglyphical Figures, early forms of tarot, and occultism. Artephius, and his "secret book", were also subjects of interest to 17th Century alchemists.
Also in the 1936 auction of Newton's collection was, "The Epitome of the treasure of health written by Edwardus Generosus Anglicus innominatus who lived Anno Domini 1562". This is a twenty-eight page treatise on the Philosopher's Stone, the Animal or Angelicall Stone, the Prospective stone or magical stone of Moses, and the vegetable or the growing stone. The treatise concludes with an alchemical poem.
[edit]Biblical studies

In a manuscript he wrote in 1704 in which he describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible, Newton estimated that the world would end no earlier than 2060. In predicting this he said, "This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail."[5]
[edit]Newton's studies of the Temple of Solomon
Newton studied and wrote extensively upon the Temple of Solomon, dedicating an entire chapter of "The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms" to his observations regarding the temple. Newton's primary source for information was the description of the structure given within 1 Kings of the Hebrew Bible, which he translated himself from the original Hebrew.[6]

Isaac Newton's diagram of part of the Temple of Solomon, taken from Plate 1 of The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms. Published London, 1728.
In addition to scripture, Newton also relied upon various ancient and contemporary sources while studying the temple. He believed that many ancient sources were endowed with sacred wisdom[2] and that the proportions of many of their temples were in themselves sacred. This belief would lead Newton to examine many architectural works of Hellenistic Greece, as well as Roman sources such as Vitruvius, in a search for their occult knowledge. This concept, often termed "prisca sapientia" (sacred wisdom), was a common belief of many scholars during Newton's lifetime.[7]
A more contemporary source for Newton's studies of the temple was Juan Bautista Villalpando, who just a few decades earlier had published an influential manuscript entitled, "Ezechielem Explanationes", in which Villalpando comments on the visions of the biblical prophet Ezekiel, including within this work his own interpretations and elaborate reconstructions of Solomon's Temple. In its time, Villalpando's work on the temple produced a great deal of interest throughout Europe and had a significant impact upon later architects and scholars.[8][9]
As a Bible scholar, Newton was initially interested in the sacred geometry of Solomon's Temple, such as golden sections, conic sections, spirals, orthographic projection, and other harmonious constructions, but he also believed that the dimensions and proportions represented more. He noted that the temple's measurements given in the Bible are mathematical problems, related to solutions for π and the volume of a hemisphere, V = (2 / 3)πr3, and in a larger sense that they were references to the size of the Earth and man's place and proportion to it.[citation needed]
Newton believed that the temple was designed by King Solomon with privileged eyes and divine guidance. To Newton, the geometry of the temple represented more than a mathematical blueprint, it also provided a time-frame chronology of Hebrew history.[10] It was for this reason that he included a chapter devoted to the temple within "The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms", a section which initially may seem unrelated to the historical nature of the book as a whole.
Newton felt that just as the writings of ancient philosophers, scholars, and Biblical figures contained within them unknown sacred wisdom, the same was true of their architecture. He believed that these men had hidden their knowledge in a complex code of symbolic and mathematical language that, when deciphered, would reveal an unknown knowledge of how nature works.[7]
In 1675 Newton annotated a copy of "Manna - a disquisition of the nature of alchemy", an anonymous treatise which had been given to him by his fellow scholar Ezekiel Foxcroft. In his annotation Newton reflected upon his reasons for examining Solomon's Temple by writing:
“ This philosophy, both speculative and active, is not only to be found in the volume of nature, but also in the sacred scriptures, as in Genesis, Job, Psalms, Isaiah and others. In the knowledge of this philosophy, God made Solomon the greatest philosopher in the world.[10] ”
During Newton's lifetime interest in the Temple of Solomon was enthusiastic in Europe, largely due to the success of Villalpando's publications, but also added to by a vogue of detailed engravings and physical models presented in various galleries for public viewing. In 1628, Judah Leon Templo produced a model of the temple and surrounding Jerusalem, which was somewhat popular in its day. Later, around 1692, Gerhard Schott produced a highly detailed model of the temple for use in an opera in Hamburg composed by Christian Heinrich Postel. This immense thirteen foot high and eighty foot around model was later sold in 1725 and featured on display in London as early as 1723, and then later temporarily installed at the London Royal Exchange from 1729-1730, where it could be viewed for half-a-crown. Sir Isaac Newton's most comprehensive work on the temple, found within "The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms", was published posthumously in 1728, only adding to the public interest in the temple.[11]
[edit]Newton's prophecy
Newton considered himself to be one of a select group of individuals who were specially chosen by God for the task of understanding Biblical scripture.[12] He was a strong believer in prophetic interpretation of the Bible, and like many of his contemporaries in Protestant England, he developed a strong affinity and deep admiration for the teachings and works of Joseph Mede. Though he never wrote a cohesive body of work on Prophecy, Newton's belief led him to write several treatise on the subject, including an unpublished guide for prophetic interpretation entitled, "Rules for interpreting the words & language in Scripture". In this manuscript he details the necessary requirements for what he considered to be the proper interpretation of the Bible.
In addition, Newton would spend much of his life seeking and revealing what could be considered a Bible Code. He placed a great deal of emphasis upon the interpretation of the Book of Revelation, writing generously upon this book and authoring several manuscripts detailing his interpretations. Unlike a prophet in the true sense of the word, Newton relied upon existing Scripture to prophesy for him, believing his interpretations would set the record straight in the face of what he considered to be "so little understood".[13] In 1754, twenty-seven years after his death, Isaac Newton's treatise, "An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture" would be published, and though it does not argue any prophetic meaning, it does exemplify what Newton considered to be just one popular misunderstanding of Scripture.
Although Newton's approach to these studies could not be considered a 'scientific' approach, he did write as if his findings were the result of evidentially-based research.
[edit]A.D. 2060
In late February and early March 2003, a large amount of media attention circulated around the globe regarding largely unknown and unpublished documents, evidently written by Isaac Newton, indicating that he believed the world would end no earlier than A.D. 2060. The story garnered vast amounts of public interest and found its way onto the front page of several widely distributed newspapers including, Britain's Daily Telegraph, Canada's National Post, Israel's Maariv and Yediot Aharonot, and was also featured in an article in the scientific journal, Nature.[14] Television and Internet stories in the following weeks heightened the exposure and ultimately would include the production of several documentary films focused upon the topic of the 2060 prediction and some of Newton's less well known beliefs and practices. The juxtaposition of Newton, popularly seen by some as the embodiment of scientific rationality with a seemingly irrational prediction of the "end of the world", would invariably lend itself to cultural sensationalism.
The two documents detailing this prediction are currently housed within the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.[14] Both were believed to be written toward the end of Newton's life, in or after 1705, a time frame most notably established by the use of the full title of Sir Isaac Newton within portions of the documents.
These documents do not appear to have been written with the intention of publication and Isaac Newton expressed a strong personal dislike for individuals who provided specific dates for the Apocalypse purely for sensational value. Furthermore, Newton at no time provides a specific date for the end of the world in either of these documents.[14]
To understand the reasoning behind the 2060 prediction, an understanding of Newton's theological beliefs should be taken into account, particularly his apparent antitrinitarian beliefs and his religious views on the Papacy. Both of these lay essential to his calculations, which ultimately would provide the A.D. 2060 time frame. See Isaac Newton's religious views for more details.
The first document, part of the Yahuda collection [15], is a small letter slip, on the back of which is written haphazardly in Newton's hand:

Prop. 1. The 2300 prophetick days did not commence before the rise of the little horn of the He Goat.
2 Those day [sic] did not commence a[f]ter the destruction of Jerusalem & ye Temple by the Romans A.[D.] 70.
3 The time times & half a time did not commence before the year 800 in wch the Popes supremacy commenced
4 They did not commence after the re[ig]ne of Gregory the 7th. 1084
5 The 1290 days did not commence b[e]fore the year 842.
6 They did not commence after the reigne of Pope Greg. 7th. 1084
7 The diffence [sic] between the 1290 & 1335 days are a parts of the seven weeks.
Therefore the 2300 years do not end before ye year 2132 nor after 2370. The time times & half time do n[o]t end before 2060 nor after [2344] The 1290 days do not begin [this should read: end] before 2090 nor after 1374 [sic; Newton probably means 2374][14]

The second reference to the 2060 prediction can be found in a folio[16], in which Newton writes:
“ So then the time times & half a time are 42 months or 1260 days or three years & an half, recconing twelve months to a yeare & 30 days to a month as was done in the Calendar of the primitive year. And the days of short lived Beasts being put for the years of lived [sic for “long lived”] kingdoms, the period of 1260 days, if dated from the complete conquest of the three kings A.C. 800, will end A.C. 2060. It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner. This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fancifull men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, & by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. Christ comes as a thief in the night, & it is not for us to know the times & seasons wch God hath put into his own breast.[14] ”
Clearly Newton's mathematical prediction of the end of the world is one derived from his interpretation of not only scripture, but also one based upon his theological viewpoint regarding specific chronological dates and events as he saw them.
Newton may not have been referring to the post 2060 event as a destructive act resulting in the annihilation of the globe and its inhabitants, but rather one in which he believed the world, as he saw it, was to be replaced with a new one based upon a transition to an era of divinely inspired peace. In Christian and Islamic theology this concept is often referred to as The Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of The Kingdom of God on Earth. In a separate manuscript[17], Isaac Newton paraphrases Revelation 21 and 22 and relates the post 2060 events by writing:
“ A new heaven & new earth. New Jerusalem comes down from heaven prepared as a Bride adorned for her husband. The marriage supper. God dwells with men wipes away all tears from their eyes, gives them of ye fountain of living water & creates all thin things new saying, It is done. The glory & felicity of the New Jerusalem is represented by a building of Gold & Gemms enlightened by the glory of God & ye Lamb & watered by ye river of Paradise on ye banks of wch grows the tree of life. Into this city the kings of the earth do bring their glory & that of the nations & the saints raign for ever & ever.[14] ”
[edit]Newton's chronology

Isaac Newton wrote extensively upon the historical topic of Chronology. In 1728 "The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms", an approximately 87,000 word composition that details the rise and history of various ancient kingdoms was published. The publication date of this work occurred after his death, though the majority of it had been reviewed for publication by Newton himself shortly before he died. As such, this work represents one of his last known personally reviewed publications. Sometime around 1701 he also produced a thirty page unpublished treatise entitled, "The Original of Monarchies" detailing the rise of several monarchs throughout antiquity and tracing them back to the biblical figure of Noah.[18]
Newton's chronological writing is Eurocentric, with the earliest records focusing upon Greece, Anatolia, Egypt, and the Levant. Many of Newton's dates do not correlate with current historical knowledge. While Newton mentions several pre-historical events found within The Bible, the oldest actual historical date he provides is 1125 BC. In this entry he mentions Mephres, a ruler over Upper Egypt from the territories of Syene to Heliopolis, and his successor Misphragmuthosis. However, during 1125 BC the Pharaoh of Egypt is now understood to be Ramesses IX.
Though some of the dates Newton provides for various events are inaccurate by modern standards, Archeology as a form of modern science did not exist in Newton's time. In fact, the majority of the conclusionary dates which Newton cites are based on the works of Herodotus, Pliny, Plutarch, Homer, and various other classical historians, authors, and poets; themselves often citing secondary sources and oral records of uncertain date. Newton's approach to chronology was focused upon gathering historical information from various sources found throughout antiquity and cataloging them according to their appropriate date by his contemporary understanding, standards, and available source material.
[edit]Newton's Atlantis
Found within "The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms", are several passages that directly mention the mythical land of Atlantis. The first such passage is part of his Short Chronical which indicates his belief that Homer's Ulysses left the island of Ogygia in 896 BC. In Greek Mythology, Ogygia was home to Calypso, the daughter of Atlas (after whom Atlantis was named). Some scholars have suggested that Ogygia and Atlantis are locationally connected, or possibly the same island. From his writings it appears Newton may have shared this belief. Newton also lists Cadis or Cales as possible candidates for Ogygia, though does not cite his reasons for believing so. Within the same material Newton mentions that according to ancient sources, Atlantis had been as big as all Europe, Africa and Asia, but was sunk into the Sea.
[edit]Newton & Secret Societies

Isaac Newton has often been associated with various secret societies and fraternal orders throughout history. Due to the secretive nature of such organizations, lack of supportive publicized material, and dubious motives for claiming Newton's participation in these groups, it is difficult to establish his actual membership in any specific organization.[19]
Regardless of his own membership status, Newton was a known associate of many individuals who themselves have often been labeled as members of various esoteric groups. It is unclear if these associations were a result of being a well established and prominently publicized scholar, an early member and sitting President of The Royal Society (1703-1727), a prominent figure of State and Master of the Mint, a recognized Knight, or if Newton actually sought active membership within these esoteric organizations himself. Considering the nature and legality of alchemical practices during his lifetime, as well as his possession of various materials and manuscripts pertaining to alchemical research, Newton may very well have been a member of a group of like minded thinkers and colleagues. The organized level of this group (if in fact any existed), the level of their secrecy, as well as the depth of Newton's involvement within them, remains unclear.
Though Newton was largely considered a reclusive personality and not prone to socializing, during his lifetime being a member of "Societies" or "Clubs" was a very popular form of interpersonal networking. Considering his esteemed social status, it is probable that Newton would have had a least some contact with such groups at various levels. He was most certainly a member of The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge and the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society [20], however, these are considered learned societies, not esoteric societies. Newton's membership status within any particular secret society remains verifiably allusive and largely speculative, however, it still lends itself to popular sensationalism.
[edit]Newton & The Rosicrucians
Perhaps the secret society which most influenced Isaac Newton were the Rosicrucians.[21] Though the Rosicrucian movement had caused a great deal of excitement within Europe's scholarly community during the early seventeenth century, by the time Newton had reached maturity the movement had become less sensationalized. However, the Rosicrucian movement still would have a profound influence upon Newton, particularly in regard to his alchemical work and philosophical thought.
The Rosicrucian belief in being specially chosen for the ability to communicate with angels or spirits is echoed in Newton's prophetic beliefs. Additionally, the Rosicrucians proclaimed to have the ability to live forever through the use of the elixir vitae and the ability to produce limitless amounts of gold from the use of The Philosopher's Stone, which they claimed to have in their possession. Like Newton, the Rosicrusians were deeply religious, avowedly Christian, anti-Catholic, and highly politicised. Isaac Newton would have a deep interest in not just their alchemical pursuits, but also their belief in esoteric truths of the ancient past and the belief in enlightened individuals with the ability to gain insight into nature, the physical universe, and the spiritual realm.[21]
At the time of his death, Isaac Newton had 169 books on the topic of alchemy in his personal library, and was believed to have considerably more books on this topic during his Cambridge years, though he may have sold them before moving to London in 1696. For its time, his was considered one of the finest alchemical libraries in the world. In his library, Newton left behind a heavily annotated personal copy of "The Fame and Confession of the Fraternity R.C.", by Thomas Vaughan which represents an English translation of The Rosicrucian Manifestos. Newton also possessed copies of "Themis Aurea" and "Symbola Aurea Mensae Duodecium" by the learned alchemist Michael Maier, both of which are significant early books about the Rosicrucian movement. These books were also extensively annotated by Newton.[21]
Newton's ownership of these materials by no means denotes membership within any early Rosicrucian order. Furthermore, considering that his personal alchemical investigations were focused upon discovering materials which the Rosicrucians professed to already be in possession of long before he was born, would seem to exclude Newton from their membership. During his own life, Newton was openly accused of being a Rosicrucian, as were many members of The Royal Society.[22] Though it is not known for sure if Isaac Newton was in fact a Rosicrucian, and he never publicly identified himself as one, from his writings it does appear that he may have shared many of their sentiments and beliefs.
[edit]Newton & Freemasonry
There is no verifiable record of Newton being a Freemason.[23] Despite this lack of evidence, Isaac Newton is still frequently identified as being a member of several early Masonic Lodges including the Grand Lodge of England. There is currently a Freemason Lodge operating at Cambridge University named The Isaac Newton University Lodge, however this does not emphatically mean that Isaac Newton was a founder or even a member, as there are many social and scholastic clubs which bear his name.[24]
Considering the secretive nature of early Freemasonry and the belief that the modern structure of the organization was partly established during Newton's lifetime in and around London, there is continued speculation as to the role that Newton may have had in the formation of Masonic Orders in their modern context. Newton's membership of The Royal Society and the fact that many Royal Society members have been identified as early Freemasons has lead many to believe Newton was a Mason himself. It is clear that Newton was deeply interested in architecture, sacred geometry, and the structure of the Temple of Solomon, a subject that plays an important role in early Masonic mythology. However, ultimately there is no evidence to directly connect Newton to Freemasonry.[23]
[edit]Newton & The Priory of Sion
It has been claimed that Newton was a Grand Master of the mythical and exhaustively debunked Priory of Sion. Since the Priory itself is considered to be a ludibrium, Newton's membership would naturally also be considered false. The "Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau", a forgery and founding document of the Priory, lists Newton as a member as does Dan Brown's bestselling fictional book, "The Da Vinci Code". Isaac Newton's membership plays an important role in Brown's book as a plot puzzle mentioned as "the tomb of a knight a pope interred", referring not to a medieval knight, but rather to Newton's tomb in Westminster Abbey, and the fact that he was eulogized by Alexander Pope (A. Pope).

^ Alfred Rupert Hall, Isaac Newton: Eighteenth Century Perspectives, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 175. ISBN 0198503644.
^ a b c Nova: Newton's Dark Secrets. [1]. USA: PBS.
^ Newman, William R. (2007-04-05). "Newton and Alchemy". The Chymistry of Isaac Newton Project. Retrieved on 2007-08-12.
^ gallery
^ "Papers Show Isaac Newton's Religious Side, Predict Date of Apocalypse". The Associated Press. 19 June 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-01.
^ Richman, Rabbi Chaim; Temple Institute (1991-2008). "Temple Institute: Issac Newton and the Holy Temple" (HTML). Temple Institute. Retrieved on 07/01/2008.
^ a b Christianson, Gale E. (2005), Isaac Newton, Oxford University Press US, pp. 144, ISBN 019530070X, retrieved on 07-04-2008
^ Goldish. Page 91.
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^ Newton, Isaac (2007-04-05). "The First Book Concerning the Language of the Prophets". The Newton Project. Retrieved on 2007-08-15.
^ a b c d e f Snobelen, Stephen D. "A time and times and the dividing of time: Isaac Newton, the Apocalypse and A.D. 2060.". Retrieved on 2007-08-15.
^ Yahuda MS 7.3o, f. 8r
^ Yahuda MS 7.3g, f. 13v
^ Yahuda MS 7.2a, f. 31r
^ Newton, Isaac. "The Original of Monarchies". Retrieved on 2007-08-19.
^ Bauer, Alain (2007), Isaac Newton's Freemasonary: The Alchemy of Science and Mysticism, Originally published as: Aux origines de la franc-maçonnerie: Newton et les Newtoniens by Editions Dervy (2003): Inner Traditions, Book Excerpt - from Chapter 3, ISBN 1-59477-172-3, retrieved on 2008-06-25
^ "Spalding Gentlemen’s Society" (HTML). Retrieved on 2008-06-25.
^ a b c White, Michael (1999), Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer, Da Capo Press, p. 117, ISBN 073820143X, retrieved on 2008-06-25
^ Yates, Frances A. (1972). The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. London: Routledge.
^ a b Baigent, Michael; Lincoln, Henry (2004), Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Delta Trade Paperbacks, pp. 496, ISBN 0385338457
^ INUL. "Isaac Newton University Lodge No. 859" (HTML). Retrieved on 2008-06-26.
White, Michael. Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer, 1997.
"The Foundations of Newton's Alchemy" by Sir William Sherrell of the Royal Society[citation needed]
Alchemy is intertwined within rosicrucian dogma, supplementary to other secret societies. They veil their lang-u-age and in-tent of esoteric truth under exoteric pretenses for mass consumption. New-ton was no different.