1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dippel, Johann Konrad

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DIPPEL, JOHANN KONRAD (1673-1734), German theologian and alchemist, son of a Lutheran pastor, was born at the castle of Frankenstein, near Darmstadt, on the 10th of August 1673. He studied theology at Giessen. After a short visit to Wittenberg he went to Strassburg, where he lectured on alchemy and chiromancy, and occasionally preached. He gained considerable popularity, but was obliged after a time to quit the city, owing to his irregular manner of living. He had up to this time espoused the cause of the orthodox as against the pietists; but in his two first works, published under the name “Christianus Democritus,” Orthodoxia Orthodoxorum (1697) and Papismus vapulans Protestantium (1698), he assailed the fundamental positions of the Lutheran theology. He held that religion consisted not in dogma but exclusively in love and self-sacrifice. To avoid persecution he was compelled to wander from place to place in Germany, Holland, Denmark and Sweden. He took the degree of doctor of medicine at Leiden in 1711. He discovered Prussian blue, and by the destructive distillation of bones prepared the evil-smelling product known as Dippel’s animal oil. He died near Berleburg on the 25th of April 1734.

An enlarged edition of Dippel’s collected works was published at Berleburg in 1743. See the biographies by J. C. G. Ackermann (Leipzig, 1781), H. V. Hoffmann (Darmstadt, 1783), K. Henning (1881) and W. Bender (Bonn, 1882); also a memoir by K. Bucher in the Historisches Taschenbuch for 1858.