The Arbatel is noted for being straight forward in its writing, positive in its contents, and unusually honest regarding its origins. While a number of occult works claim to be from earlier periods and other regions than where they were actually published, textual evidence demonstrates that the book must have been written between 1536 and 1583, which encompasses the claimed date of 1575. The final editing of the book was likely carried out by Theodor Zwinger, and was almost definitely published by Pietro Perna, leaving little doubt to the book's claimed Swiss origin. The author remains unknown. The Arbatel was one of the most influential works of its kind from its period, inspiring figures such as Johann Arndt, Gerhard Dorn, Adam Haslmayr, Robert Fludd, Heinrich Khunrath, and Valentin Weigel, in addition to its editor and publisher, Zwinger and Perna. It was possibly the first work to use "Theosophy" in an occult sense (as opposed to a synonym for theology). and for distinguishing between human ("anthroposophia") and divine knowledge ("theosophia"). Indeed, Jakob Böhme may have chosen the word "Theosophy" to describe his ideas due to its use in the Arbatel. It was where Thomas Vaughan found the term anthroposophy, later adopted by Rudolf Steiner to describe his belief system. Not all reception was positive, however. The book was condemned by Johann Weyer in his De praestigiis daemonum as being "full of magical impiety," and by Reformed Church censor Simon Sulzer. In 1617, the University of Marburg took action against two professors who intended to use the grimoire as a textbook, and expelled a student obsessed with it. In 1623, an accused witch named Jean Michel Menuisier revealed that, despite not owning a copy of the Arbatel, used a few invocations from it. John Dee wrote about studying the Arbatel (among many other occult works of the period). This influence lead Nicholas Clulee to posit that Dee did not see his angelic experiments as magical, but in fact religious, as both Dee's ceremonies and the magical system of the Arbatel begin with prayers to God that cautiously lead into requests to see heavenly angels. Dee also recorded calling upon at least the Arbatel's solar Olympian spirit Och. Swedish mystic Johannes Bureus credited the work for his interest in Kabbalah.
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