Between the years 1749 and 1771, Emanuel Swedenborg published a number of theological works detailing his mystical experiences and spiritual insights. Originally written in Latin, there have been numerous English translations. The New Century Edition of Swedenborg’s theological writings is arguably the most accessible translation available to date.
Learn more about each of Swedenborg’s works below. To read each publication, head to the Swedenborg Foundation.
1749 – 1762
Secrets of Heaven
His foray into theological writing began in 1749 when Swedenborg published his first theological work, Secrets of Heaven. In this text, Swedenborg introduces the reader to his symbolic interpretation of scripture, beginning with Genesis. According to Swedenborg, rather than read the Bible as literal truth, it actually has a deeper meaning which deals directly with our inner lives. Beginning with the story of creation, he asserts that the stories of the Bible detail our own inner spiritual growth and dynamics. In addition to this, he shares many of his mystical experiences of conversations with spiritual beings. In 1758, Swedenborg followed up Secrets of Heaven with five more theological works: Heaven and Hell, White Horse, Other Planets, Last Judgement, and New Jerusalem.
Heaven and Hell
Heaven and Hell is by far his most widely read book. In this work he details his experiences of the spiritual world. According to Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell are spiritual states we freely inhabit, based on our inner affections and inclinations. He describes heaven as a place of great diversity, including many faiths and religious traditions. Crucial to this text is the notion that we spiritually inhabit these realms while still on earth, and continue to do so more fully in the afterlife. This work is seen by many as the most comprehensive overview of Swedenborgian theology.
White Horse continues this theme of the inner meaning of scripture, paying particular attention to the deep symbolism contained in the Book of Revelation.
In Other Planets, Swedenborg discusses his interactions with the spirits from different planets in our solar system. While often seen as challenging for the modern reader, his experiences outlined in Other Planets shed light on the variety of spiritual states and realities, which are fundamental to his teachings.
Last Judgment and New Jerusalem
The final two books of this series, Last Judgment and New Jerusalem, discuss the inner spiritual meaning of the second coming of Christ and a new age of spiritual enlightenment. Swedenborg believed that the second coming had already occurred, and was still occurring within us. Individually and collectively, this second coming is happening in our inner spiritual reality, unfolding as we grow deeper in our understanding of divine love and wisdom.
Between 1763 and 1768, Swedenborg published several works which serve as a comprehensive overview of many of his core teachings. This period also includes his “Shorter Works” of: The Lord, Sacred Scripture, Life, Faith and Supplements (“Continuation Concerning the Last Judgment”), which provide a brief and concise treatment of some fundamental theological topics.
Divine Love and Wisdom
Divine Love and Wisdom, published in 1763, is considered his most philosophical work, and focuses on the nature of God and the means by which we can unite with the divine. Central to this is his notion that the two essential qualities which make up God, as well as reality as a whole, are goodness and truth.
Divine Providence (1764) provides insight into the questions of the meaning of life, free will, and the existence of a loving god amid human suffering.
Marriage Love (1768) relates the journey of inner spiritual regeneration and union with God to the concepts of human love and sexuality.
In Revelation Unveiled (1766), Swedenborg returns to his symbolic reading of the Bible with a study of the Book of Revelation and its significance to our inner spiritual life.
Survey (“Brief Exposition”) and Soul Body Interaction
In 1769, he published Survey (“Brief Exposition”) and Soul Body Interaction. Here Swedenborg critiques the dominant Christian theology of his day, and weighs in on the philosophical debate on the relationship between the human body and soul.
It should be no surprise that Swedenborg’s writings were received by accusations of heresy from the established church. In response to these accusations, Swedenborg published his final work, True Christianity, in 1771. Due to the radical views outlined in his theological writings, Swedenborg was forced to leave his native Sweden and had begun publishing his works in more liberally-minded locations in Europe. In True Christianity, Swedenborg addresses core concepts in Christian theology through the lense of his mystical theology, including the nature of God and the role of Christ. Along with contextualizing his views on Christianity, this work also contains numerous detailed accounts of spiritual experiences and visions.