Bible, interpretations of


[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Bible, interpretations of" (search under Outer Life/Doctrine, Rites, Scriptures)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.10": detail "Section 8891"
They who do not think beyond the sense of the letter cannot believe otherwise than that the creation described in the first and second chapters of Genesis, is the creation of the universe, and that there were six days within which were created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things which are therein, and at length man in the likeness of God. But who that considers the particulars of the description cannot see that the creation of the universe is not there meant; for such things are there said as may be known from common sense not to have been so; as that before the sun and the moon there were days, also light and darkness, and that herbage and trees sprang up; and yet it is by these luminaries that light is given, and a distinction made between light and darkness, and thus days were made. In what there follows are also like things, which are scarcely acknowledged to be possible by anyone who thinks interiorly; as that the woman was built from the rib of the man; also that two trees were placed in paradise, of the fruit of one of which it was forbidden to eat; and that from one of them a serpent spoke with the wife of the man who had been the wisest of mortals, and by its speech, which was from the mouth of the serpent, deceived them both; also that the whole human race, even to so many millions, was on that account condemned to hell. At first thought these and similar things there related cannot but appear as paradoxes to those who cherish any doubt concerning the holiness of the Word, and must at length lead to a denial of the Divine therein.
 Nevertheless it is to be known that each and all things there, even to the smallest jot, are Divine, and contain within them arcana which lie open before the angels in the heavens as in clear day. That this is so, is because the angels do not see the sense of the Word according to the letter, but according to the things contained therein, which are spiritual and celestial, and within these, things Divine. When the first chapter of Genesis is read, they perceive no other creation than the new creation of man, which is called regeneration — this is what is there described; likewise by paradise the wisdom of the man who has been created anew; by the two trees in the midst thereof, the two faculties of that man, namely, the will of good by "the tree of life," and the understanding of truth by "the tree of knowledge." And that it was forbidden to eat of this latter tree was because the man who is regenerated, or created anew, ought no longer to be led by the understanding of truth, but by the will of good, and if otherwise, his new life perishes.
 Consequently by "Adam," or man, and by "Eve" his wife, is here meant a new church, and by "eating of the tree of knowledge," the fall of that church from good to truth, consequently from love to the Lord and towards the neighbour, to faith without these loves, and this by reasoning from the intellectual proprium.
 From all this it is plain that the historical accounts of the creation of the first man and paradise, are fictitious historicals which contain in them things heavenly and Divine, and this according to the manner customary in the Ancient Churches; which mode of writing also spread from them to many who were outside the Church, who in like manner feigned historical events in which they enfolded arcana, as is plain from the writers of the most ancient times. For in the Ancient Churches it was known what the things that are in the world signified in heaven; nor were public events of sufficient importance to them to be worth describing, as were the things which are of heaven. These latter things occupied their minds, for the reason that they thought more interiorly than men think at this day, and thus had communication with angels; on which account it was delightful to them to connect such things together. But they were led by the Lord to those things which should be held sacred in the churches; hence such things were composed which fully corresponded.