Arcana Cœlestia

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The Arcana Cœlestia, quae in Scriptura Sacra seu Verbo Domini sunt, detecta, usually abbreviated as Arcana Cœlestia (Heavenly Mysteries or Secrets of Heaven) or under its Latin variant, Arcana Cælestia,[1] is the first and largest work published by Emanuel Swedenborg in his theological period. It was written and published in Neo-Latin, in eight volumes, one volume per year, from 1749 to 1756.[2]

Arcana Cœlestia, first edition (1749), title page

It consists of an exposition of the spiritual sense of the books of Genesis and Exodus, according to the doctrine of correspondence (theology), and demonstrated by many supporting quotations from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. While not denying the historicity of the stories of the Patriarchs (Bible) and The Exodus from Egypt, it explains them as describing symbolically the process of spiritual growth and struggles in each individual person.

What follows is the opening paragraph of Arcana Coelestia Volume 1, and therefore the opening statement of the whole corpus of theological work that Swedenborg claimed was revealed to him.[3]

From the mere letter of the Word of the Old Testament no one would ever discern the fact that this part of the Word contains deep secrets of heaven, and that everything within it both in general and in particular bears reference to the Lord, to His heaven, to the church, to religious belief, and to all things connected therewith; for from the letter or sense of the letter all that anyone can see is that ̶ to speak generally ̶ everything therein has reference merely to the external rites and ordinances of the Jewish Church. Yet the truth is that everywhere in that Word there are internal things which never appear at all in the external things except a very few which the Lord revealed and explained to the Apostles; such as that the sacrifices signify the Lord; that the land of Canaan and Jerusalem signify heaven ̶ on which account they are called the Heavenly Canaan and Jerusalem ̶ and that Paradise has a similar signification. (Arcana Cœlestia #1)

Editions[edit]

There have been several translations made of Arcana Cœlestia (together with the rest of Swedenborg’s theological work). Three are currently available:

Swedenborg Foundation Standard Edition (12 volumes)[edit]

Volumes of the Standard Edition were originally issued from 1929 to 1956, with the majority in 1938.

(a) A redesigned (not retranslated) hardback is available from the Swedenborg Foundation for purchase.[4]

(b) The Swedenborg Foundation also provides a volume-by-volume downloadable version at no cost.[5]

(c) An online edition, with an expanded Table of Contents, is available on the Swedenborg Digital Library at no cost.[6]

(d) Sacred Texts provides a DVD version for purchase and an online version at no cost.[7]

Swedenborg Society (12 volumes)[edit]

This is a new contemporary translation, available in hardback and paperback for purchase.[8]

Swedenborg Foundation New Century Edition (2 of 12 volumes currently available).[edit]

This also is a new contemporary edition, the translation of which is still in progress. The two volumes that have been released so far can be purchased in e-book and paperback formats.[9]

The Neo-Latin original[edit]

Swedenborg’s theological works were written in Neo-Latin.

(a) The Neo-Latin first edition published by Swedenborg is available online at no charge.[10]

(b) Photographic images of the actual pages of the Neo-Latin first edition, again published by Swedenborg, are available online at no charge.[11]

The first translation into English[edit]

First Translation of Swedenborg's theological writings - 16th Chapter of Genesis as explained in the Arcana Cœlestia - This translation from Neo-Latin into English was commissioned by Swedenborg himself and is a photocopy of a first edition copy. A preface by Swedenborg is included. (PDF - 12MB).

Summaries and comments[edit]

1. See Editor’s Preface and the Reviser’s Preface in the opening pages of the Standard Edition, Volume 1.[12] The Reviser Preface contains a summary of the publishing history for the work originally published by Swedenborg.

2. See contents summary in text in box at bottom of this page.[13]

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]