Emanuel Swedenborg: The Development of His Thought
Author : Ernst Benz
Translated : Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
Format : Hardback, 536 pages
Release date : 2002
The distinguished German theologian Ernst Benz documents the rich and fascinating life of Emanuel Swedenborg, who claims an exceptional place in history as both a scientist and a visionary. Also an active statesman, Swedenborg accomplished major engineering feats, contributed numerous groundbreaking studies in a variety of scientific fields, and played a prominent role in Swedish public institutions.
Benz examines Swedenborg's life through the lens of the intellectual atmosphere of the eighteenth century. Growing up at a time when the classical view of the world was being challenged by the new philosophers and scientists of the Enlightenment, Swedenborg was deeply immersed both in the religious teachings of the Lutheran church and the explorations of rational science. His quest for understanding eventually led to his spiritual awakening and the unique insights that continue to inspire seekers and thinkers today. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's eminently readable translation shines a new light on the Swedish seer.
Author Bio :
Ernst Benz (1907-1978) was a professor of Church History at the University of Marburg. Benz's bibliography embraces hundreds of learned articles and some fifty books, ranging from studies of Eastern Orthodox churches and Asian religions to mystical sources of German Romanticism and the interaction of theology and science in such movements as Mesmerism and electrotheology.
German church historian Benz first wrote this German study of Swedenborg's life and thought in 1948, with a revised version in 1969. The Swedenborg Foundation has sponsored this English translation of Benz's work. In it Benz rejects any simplistic reduction of Swedenborg's spiritual crisis of 1744 by mental or psychological explanations. Rather, Benz sees Swedenborg's visions and his spiritual awakening as part of a long European esoteric and mystical tradition, going back as far as Neo-Platonism and the Hermetic tradition, and shaped as well by the scientific spirit of the age. Benz downplays the idea of a visionary "conversion" of 1744, insisting that Swedenborg's later theological works develop themes already present in his earlier scientific writings. - M.A. Granquist, Gustavus Adolphus College for Choice Magazine, March 2003