From a Master’s thesis, The scientific revolution’s axiomatic rejection of magical thinking : the case of astrology in England (1600-1700):
“Over the course of the next three centuries the Church would actually fluctuate between policies of toleration and persecution of astrologers though, with some Church leaders even taking an avid interest in astrology.
For instance, despite the widespread assault on witchcraft and magic brought about by the Protestant Reformation, and the strong anti-astrology stance taken by Protestant leaders like Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, we have the example of Phillip Melancthon, who, as dedicated as he was to Luther’s ideals for Church reform, never renounced his belief in a valid and divinely sanctioned science of astrology.
He was able not only to maintain his devout faith in Christianity, but could combine it with a decidedly judicial view of astrology:
“What is true discipline except the ruling of life, but this is impossible if the distant causes are unknown. This divining art is manifestly necessary to the conduct of life, for it shows what one’s natural inclinations are and allows one to exercise one’s good qualities and bridle one’s vicious instincts.”
The story of Faust is a product of, and a commentary on its times and so is our interpretation of it a product of, and a commentary on our own time. A society subject to God is replaced by one which hopes to prosper despite God. Faust’s ambitions are first a threat to God, then they become what ultimately frees us from God.
Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press. Rise of literacy.
Revival of Greek learning (fall of Constantinople). Renaissance.
The historical Georg Faust is believed to have been born in 1480 in Knittlingen.
Georg Helmstetter enrolled at Heidelberg University and got his Master’s Degree in philosophy in 1487. He practiced astrology and alchemy.
Martin Luther begins the Protestant Reformation in Wittenberg.
The historical Faust is said to have died.
Copernicus shows that Earth is not the centre of God’s Universe (‘beginning of the scientific revolution’).
The Wolfenbüttel manuscript version of Faust.
Giordano Bruno further discredits the Christian doctrine of the heavens (he is executed in 1600).
The chapbook Historia von Johann D. Fausten published in Frankfurt am Main by Johann Spies.
(1587-1592?) Likely printing of the chapbook’s English translation, The Historie of the damnable life, and deserved death of Doctor John Faustus by ‘P.F.’
Christopher Marlowe’s drama “Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus.”
(1650s to 1780s) Age of Enlightenment/Age of Reason. Decline of superstition.
Newton’s Principia – ‘the close of the beginning of the scientific revolution.’
The first publication of a version of Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Faust.
Goethe published Faust. Eine Tragödie.
Goethe’s Faust II published shortly after his death in that year.