Legend 6: The Good Samaritan

November 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

Kurt Simon’s 6th legend is:

In the spiritual sense of the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10), the teaching that “’he brought him to an inn and told them to care for him’ signifies to bring to those that are well instructed in the doctrine of the church from the Word, and who are better able to heal him than one who is still in ignorance.”  (Apocalypse Explained 375: 42)

From <http://www.swedenborgproject.org/2009/01/29/swedenborgian-legends/>

Here is the passage referred to:

Because “oil” signified the good of love and charity, and “wine” signified truth:

The Lord says of the Samaritan, who as he journeyed saw in the way a man wounded by thieves, that he poured oil and wine into his wounds, and then set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and told them to care for him (Luke 10:33-35).

In the spiritual sense these things are thus perceived: “the Samaritan” means the Gentiles that were in the good of charity towards the neighbor; “the man wounded by thieves” means those who are infested by those from hell, who are thieves because they injure and destroy man’s spiritual life; the “oil and wine that he poured into his wounds” mean things spiritual that heal man, “oil” good, and “wine” truth; that “he set him on his own beast” signifies that he did this according to his intelligence so far as he was able, “horse,” and likewise “beast of burden” signifying the intellect; that “he brought him to an inn and told them to care for him” signifies to bring to those that are well instructed in the doctrine of the church from the Word, and who are better able to heal him than one who is still in ignorance. Thus are these words understood in heaven, and from them it is evident that the Lord when He was in the world spoke by pure correspondences, thus for the world and for heaven at the same time. (AE 375.42)

This verse is also treated later in AE:

Again, the “Levite” in the Lord’s parable of the man wounded by robbers has this contrary signification; and that parable shall here be explained, because it treats of charity towards the neighbor, and because the Lord there spoke from beginning to end by correspondences, which have heretofore been unknown. In Luke:

The lawyer wishing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus continuing said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem into Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and smote him, and departed leaving him half dead. And by chance a certain priest was going down that way; and seeing him he passed by. And in like manner a Levite, when he was at the place, came and saw and passed by. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to him; and when he saw him he was moved with compassion, and coming near he bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and then setting him on his own beast he led him to an inn and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed he took out two denaries and gave them to the host, and said to him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come back again I will repay thee. Which now of these three seems to thee to have been a neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers? He said, He that showed mercy unto him. And Jesus said unto him, Go, and do thou likewise (Luke 10:29-37).

This treats of charity towards the neighbor, and of good works by which charity is in its effect and in its fullness.

“Jerusalem” here signifies the church where there is true doctrine, and “Jericho” the church where there are knowledges of truth and good; so the “priest” signifies those who have no love to the Lord, and the “Levite” those who have no charity towards the neighbor, such as those were who were in Jerusalem at that time; but the “Samaritan” signifies the nations that were in the good of charity; the “man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho” signifies those who wished to be instructed in the truths and knowledges of the church; the “robbers among whom he fell” signify those in the perverted church, such as the Jewish church was at that time; “they stripped him and smote him, and left him half dead,” signifies that they deprived him of truths and imbued him with falsities, and thus doing injury to spiritual life to such a degree that scarcely any spiritual life remains; “to strip” signifying in the Word to deprive of truths, “to smite” signifying to injure the mind and spiritual life by falsities, and “to be half dead” signifying to be almost destitute of that life; “to be moved with compassion” signifies mercy and charity from within, mercy and charity also forming a one; “to bind up the wounds and to pour in oil and wine” signifies providing a remedy against the falsities that have injured his life, by instructing him in the good of love and the truth of faith, “oil” in the Word signifying the good of love, and “wine” the good and truth of faith; “to set him on his own beast” signifies according to his understanding so far as he was able, “horse” (in like manner as beast), signifying the understanding; “to lead him to an inn and to take care of him” signifies to lead him to those who are better instructed in the knowledges of good and truth, an “inn” being a place where foods and drinks are bought, which signify the knowledges of good and truth, thence spiritual nourishment which is communicated by instruction; “he gave to the host two denaries, and said to him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come back again I will repay thee,” signifies all things of charity in the measure of his ability and capacity. From this it can now be seen what “Levi,” “his tribe,” and “the Levites” signify in each sense. (AE 444.14)

One of the frustrations I have had in looking at these “legends” is that it appears that a teaching is wrong simply because it appears in an unpublished work but not in a published work. This a non-sequitur, that is, while it may be true, the conclusion does not logically follow from the premise.

If Swedenborg was truly being guided by the Lord in his Writing; then the Lord’s inspiration was not only in the preparation of the final draft. The Lord was guiding Swedenborg in his thought in the selection of subjects and topics. The was guiding his research and the notes he took. The Lord was guiding rewrites. And like any good writer, Swedenborg did not use all his material. He trimmed his material, he tighten his arguments. He left material out of his final draft because it was not serving the purpose of the book. That selection was not necessarily wrong or false.

If Mr. Simon’s thinks that a teaching in an unpublished work is wrong or false, I think he should demonstrate why it is wrong. He should show where and how it contradicts the teachings in the published works. But he does not do this, he simply rejects it because it is not restated in the published works.

Is there any evidence in the published works that this teaching true? There is, of course, no direct evidence. The story of the good Samaritan is mentioned in AC 6708 and HD 87. Both passage only cite the story to illustrate who the neighbor is, and neither gives any explanation of individual element of the story. Other than these to cases, Luke 10: 35 is not quoted or referenced in the published works.

There is, however, some indirect evidence to support the explanations in AE.  In AR 255 Swedenborg experience some representations about the spiritual meaning of the Word, and afterwards he was instructed about the meaning of these representations. This instruction included:

On seeing which I was instructed, that by these was represented the sense of the letter of the Word, in which is the spiritual sense. The great purses full of silver signified the knowledges of truth and good in great abundance. Their being open, and yet guarded by angels, signified that anyone might take from thence the knowledges of truth, but that care is taken lest anyone should falsify the spiritual sense, in which were nothing but truths. The manger in the stable, in which the purses lay, signified spiritual instruction for the understanding; this is the signification of a manger, and the same is signified by the manger in which the Lord lay when an infant, because a horse, which eats therefrom, signifies the understanding of the Word. (AR 255.3, see also SS 26 & TCR 27.7)

What we learn from the above passage is that a “manger” means “spiritual instruction for the understanding” and that the manger where Lord was laid as an infant had the same meaning.

In the Christmas story, the Lord was lain in a manger because there was no room in the inn. The manger was a substitute for the inn, which suggests that they both had the same meaning. It may seem strange that a manger and an inn could mean the same thing, but this is common in the Word:

‘The host of them’ are love, faith, and cognitions of them, which previously were meant by ‘the great lights and the stars’. (AC 82)

 ‘A help suitable for him’ means the proprium, which, further on, is also called ‘the rib which was built into a woman’. (AC 138)

The seven lamps here have the same symbolic meaning as the seven lampstands previously, and also the seven stars. (AR 237)

That both the inn and a manger should both mean instruction makes sense as they are both palaces of feeding.

The passage Mr. Simons calls a legend goes on to say that the Samaritan took the man to an inn because he could be healed there better than from one “who is still in ignorance.” Again, this is not stated in the published works. The published works, however, amply testify that “gentiles are ignorant of the Word” (AC 1059, cf. AC 2023, 2708.4, 2910.4, 2986.3, 3267.3, 3519.8 7688.2, 7711.4, 9209.4, 3809.11 and TCR 215). And, of course, Samaritans were gentiles.

Circumstantial evidence from published works supports the correctness of the exposition of the story of the good Samaritan as given in the Apocalypse Explained. To the best of my knowledge, there is no teaching in the published works that argues that the explanation in the AE is wrong or false. And as usual, Mr. Simons does not offer any explanation of why this exposition is untrue or should be rejected.


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