Book Review: “New Jerusalem” New Century Edition, Swedenborg Foundation

This is the latest theological work of Swedenborg to be issued in the New Century Edition series by the Swedenborg Foundation.

It uses the translation by George Dole.

It is a remarkable book and it has often been described as a “notebook” of Swedenborg’s spiritual teachings. There are 23 chapters, most of which are thoroughly but briefly dealt with in about three pages.

These include very personal concepts such as Good and Truth, Will and Understanding, The Inner Self and the Outer Self, and then move into more specified subjects like Faith, Piety, Conscience, Freedom, then into several chapters about Regeneration, then towards the end, Heaven and Hell, the Church, the Word, Providence, the Lord and finally, even surprisingly, a chapter on Ecclesiastical and Civil Governance. Truly, a comprehensive list!

In the original version each chapter has an appendix of passages drawn from the Arcana Caelestia or Secrets of Heaven. In some previous editions of New Jerusalem these have been left out; it is good to see that they have been included in this new edition.

One way of appreciating and valuing this book is to see that each chapter and topic is discussed along the lines of “What do we really mean when we talk about … “Faith” or “The Church”? Each chapter is a 101 in today’s language.

Here, as an example, is the opening part of the chapter on Repentance and the Forgiveness of Sins:

“If we want to be saved, we must confess our sins and repent. Confessing sins is to recognise things that are evil, see them within ourselves, acknowledge them, accept that we are at fault, and condemn ourselves because of them. When this is done in the presence of God, it is confessing our sins.

“After we have confessed our sins in this way and have prayed for forgiveness with a humble heart, repenting is to stop doing them and to lead a new life that follows the principles of caring and faith.

“If all we do is make a blanket acknowledgement that we are sinners and declare ourselves guilty of all evils but without examining ourselves – that is, seeing our own evils – we are making some kind of confession but not a confession that leads to repentance. Since we do not know what our evils are we live the same way afterward as before.” (159-162)

It is worth mentioning that in 1938, in celebration of 250 years since Swedenborg’s birth, the Swedenborg Society in London issued this book – without the appendices – in twenty of the world’s languages. And nearer our time, in 1993, the Swedenborg Foundation issued Rev. Lee Woofenden’s very free translation as “The Heavenly City, a Spiritual Guidebook” which was audio-recorded by Barry Eaton here in Australia as an audiobook.

Here are the publication details –

New Jerusalem – Emanuel Swedenborg – George F Dole translator

208 pp Cost: $US 7.99 Publication date: December 2016

Website for enquiries or purchase is:

www.swedenborg.com/product/new-jerusalem- nce/

Reviewer: Julian Duckworth

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