Part III Linguistic Trail of the Emerald Tablet
The following is a summary of the translations of the Emerald Tablet which have been historically documented.
The myth and legend surrounding the Emerald Tablet has been developing since the first known Arabic translation appeared in year 800 AD.
FACT: It was included in an Arabic book on advice to kings called Kitab Sirr Al Asrar. The first known Western translation of the Kitab (book) containing text from the Emerald Tablet was Secretum Secretorum (the Secret of Secrets), translated into Latin by Johannes Hispalensis (John of Seville) around 1140 AD. Philip of Tripoli made another translation in 1243, with other Arabic to Latin writings during the same period by Plato of Tivoli and Hugh of Santalla, perhaps from other sources. Verses of the Emerald Tablet were also found in Kitab Ustuque al-Uss al-Thani (Second Book of the Elements of Foundation), the most accurate dating 12th century. As we go further back in time, it gets a bit murkier. Another Arabic book Kitab Balaniyus al-Hakim fi’l Ilal (Book of Balinas the Wise on Causes) is thought to have been written as early as 650 AD and is accepted as being finalized by the Caliphate of al-Ma’un in early 800 AD.
FACT: The Arabic to Latin is the only translation that can be historically documented.
LEGEND: There are some that claim the Tablet was written in Chaldean, translated to German and then English. Sigismund Bacstrom, Rosicrucian, claims to have translated from Chaldean, while Wilhelm Kriegsmann, alchemist, supposedly obtained his version from Phoenician.
FACT: The alchemist Ortolanus wrote “The Secret of Hermes” in the 14th c. which established the Tablet as the “Bible” of alchemy. There are many surviving copies of that translation of the Emerald Tablet and Ortolanus commentaries, the oldest from the 15th c.
FACT: Sir Isaac Newton has his own translation (from Latin) in 1680, Georgio Beato his Aurelium Occultae Philosophorum , Steel and Singer in 1928 and Madame Blavatsky, theosophist, as late as 1972. There are many translations since the time of Newton, I have only mentioned a few. And so to paraphrase dear Hermes Trismegistos himself , “That which I had to say concerning the operation of the Emerald Tablet is completed.” – at least for now.
Related The Emerald Tablet, Text of the Emerald Tablet,