Legend 3: the writings of the Apostles
November 3, 2016 § 8 Comments
Kurt Simon’s third legend is:
The characterization of the Biblical epistles as “useful books for the church” Apocalypse Explained 815 (and Letter to Beyer, April 15, 1766).
Here are the passages Mr. Simon’s refers to:
As passages from the Word have been cited above (n. 785) in which “works,” “deeds,” “working,” and “doing” are mentioned, I will now cite passages where “faith” and “believing” are mentioned, but only from the Gospels, and not from the Epistles of the Apostles, and for the reason that the Gospels contain the words of the Lord Himself, all of which have concealed in them a spiritual sense, through which immediate communication with heaven is granted, while the writings of the Apostles contain no such sense, although they are nevertheless useful books for the church. (AE 815.2)
As regards the writings of the Apostles and Paul, I have not quoted them in the Arcana Coelestia for the reason that they are doctrinal writings, and so are not written in the style of the Word as are the Prophets, David, the Gospels, and the Apocalypse. The style of the Word consists wholly of correspondences, and therefore they effect immediately communication with heaven, while in doctrinal writings, there is another style, which does indeed have communication with heaven but mediately. The reason why they were so written by the Apostles, was that, by them, the New Christian Church should have its beginning, and therefore doctrinal matters could not be written in the style of the Word but only in a way which could be understood more clearly and intimately. The Apostles’ writings are nevertheless good church-books and maintain the doctrine of charity and the faith thereof, just as strongly as does the Lord Himself in the Gospels and the Apocalypse, as can be clearly seen and discovered if one has his mind thereon when reading them. (Letters 2; Letter to Dr. Beyer, April 15, 1766)
The letter to Beyer is particularly interesting. It was written in mid-April of 1766. Prior to that time not only had Swedenborg not quoted or cited the apostles in the Arcana, he had not (to the best of my knowledge) quoted or cited them in any published work prior to that date! But that was about to change. Shortly after Swedenborg’s letter to Beyer, Swedenborg published the Apocalypse Revealed. Apocalypse Revealed quotes or cites 6 of the works of the apostles; Conjugial Love 3; Brief Exposition 2; and True Christian Religion 11!
It should be noted, that while the apostles are not quoted to cited prior to 1766 in the published works, they are alluded to:
- 1 Cor. 14. 34 in AC 8994.4
- Acts 17: 28 in AC 2892, 5605.3, 10774; SS 28; DLW 301
Again, Mr. Simons is correct, these teachings are not repeated in the published works. Apparently what makes these teachings “incorrect” is the characterization that these books of the Bible are “useful.” I do not understand this. The Lord apparently found them useful enough to quote and cite in most of works published after 1765!