Extracts

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Biblical interpretations

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[1 of 3] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Bible, interpretations of" (search under Outer Life/Doctrine, Rites, Scriptures)": source "Divine Love and Wisdom": detail "Section 221"
The Word [Bible] in the sense of the letter is in its fullness and in its power. For there are three senses in the Word according to the three degrees; the celestial sense, the spiritual sense, and the natural sense. Since these senses are in the Word according to the three degrees of altitude, and their conjunction is effected by correspondences, therefore the ultimate sense, which is the natural, and is called the sense of the letter, is not only the complex, continent and basis of the corresponding interior senses, but moreover the Word in the ultimate sense is in its fullness and in its power.

[2 of 3] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Bible, and Torah" (search under Outer Life/Doctrine, Rites, Scriptures)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.12": detail "Section 10560"
The Church had been in the land of Canaan from the most ancient times, and that the Word [Bible] could not have been written elsewhere, nor among any people but the nation which possessed that land; and where the Word is, there is the Church. The Word could not have been written anywhere else, because all the places in that land, and round about it, as the mountains, valleys, rivers, forests, and the rest, had become representative of celestial and spiritual things. And it was necessary that the sense of the letter of the Word, both in the historical and prophetical parts, should consist of such things, since the interiors of the Word, being celestial and spiritual, terminate in such representatives, and stand, as it were, upon them like a house upon its foundation; for unless the sense of the letter of the Word, which is its ultimate sense, rested upon such things, it would be like a house without a foundation. That this is the case is evident from the Word, where mention is so often made of the places in that land, all having become representative, signify the things of heaven and the Church. The Church was in the land of Canaan from the most ancient times, and consequently all the places there became representative.

[3 of 3] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Bible, interpretations of" (search under Outer Life/Doctrine, Rites, Scriptures)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.10": detail "Section 9025"
The literal sense of the Word [Bible] is for the simple, for those who are being initiated into the interior truths of faith, and for those who do not apprehend interior things; for this sense is according to the appearance before the sensual man, thus is according to his apprehension. Hence it is that in this sense things frequently appear dissimilar, and as it were contradictory, to each other; as for example, that the Lord leads into temptation, and elsewhere that He does not so lead; that the Lord repents, and elsewhere that He does not repent; that the Lord acts from anger and wrath, and elsewhere that He acts from pure clemency and mercy; that souls are brought to judgment immediately after death, and elsewhere that it will be at the time of the Last Judgment; and so on.
 As such truths are from the literal sense of the Word, they are called scientific truths, and they differ from the truths of faith, which are of the doctrine of the church, for the latter arise from the former by explanation; for when they are explained, the man of the church is instructed that such things are so said in the Word for the sake of apprehension, and according to the appearance. Hence also it is that in very many places the doctrines of the church recede from the literal sense of the Word.
 It is to be known that the true doctrine of the church is that which is here called "the internal sense"; for in the internal sense are truths such as the angels in heaven have. Among priests and the men of the church, there are those who teach and learn the truths of the church from the literal sense of the Word; and there are those who teach and learn from doctrine from the Word, which is called the doctrine of faith of the church. The latter differ greatly from the former in perception, but they cannot be distinguished by the common people, because they both speak from the Word nearly alike. But those who teach and learn the literal sense of the Word alone without the doctrine of the church as a guide, apprehend nothing but those things which are of the natural or external man; whereas those who teach and learn from true doctrine from the Word, also understand those things which are of the spiritual or internal man. The reason is that the Word in the external or literal sense is natural, but in the internal sense it is spiritual.