Originally published in the Swedenborg Foundation’s newsletter, Logos, in the fall of 2002.
Many people ask me, “What’s next?” What they mean is “Which volume of Swedenborg’s is the New Century Edition going to publish next?”
There are actually two answers in one: Divine Love and Wisdom and Divine Providence. As I write, these two key titles are going through the final stages of publication.
Divine Love and Wisdom, first published in 1763 and written, according to Swedenborg, “to uncover causes . . . and [dispel] the darkness,” is a work on the nature of God, of reality, and of creation, with a special focus on God’s humanity and how that is reflected in our nature. It provides unique answers to humankind’s perpetual questions about the nature and method of creation and ultimately depicts how everything in nature expresses God’s wise and loving care for us.
Divine Providence is its companion, a work on God’s governance of the world and relationship to us as individuals. Originally published in 1764, Divine Providence provides the most coherent and satisfying explanation for what has been labeled “the problem of evil.” Briefly put, the problem is this: how are God’s goodness and power reconcilable with the existence of evil in the world and in our own minds and hearts? This is also a highly practical book, teaching us what to think and what to do in order to change our negative behaviors and attitudes. It aims to restore our faith that God is indeed in charge and all is well, despite appearances to the contrary.
In the NCE Divine Love and Wisdom and Divine Providence will be bound together as a single volume in hardcover, but separately as two volumes in paperback. Both the hardcover and paperback editions of these works will be available to Logos readers by Christmas 2002, although they will not be on sale in bookstores until early 2003.
The hardback and paperbacks will have the same look and feel as the NCE Heaven and Hell: the same red numbers in the margins, the same pleasing typeface and generous margins, the same inclusion of ornaments from the first edition, the same high quality acid-free paper, the same custom color binding, the same gold stamping. In addition to good looks, the works will also have brains in the form of secondary material useful to both new readers and the most seasoned aficionados: translator’s prefaces by Dr. George Dole showing how the works complement one another and the other works in Swedenborg’s theological corpus; introductions by Dr. Gregory R. Johnson showing the philosophical issues that these volumes address and where they fit into the intellectual history of the West; and hundreds of explanatory endnotes by both of the above as well as Dr. Reuben Bell, Dr. Glen Cooper, Dr. Stuart Shotwell, and me. Both titles have indexes furnished by Dr. Bruce Tracy that are thorough and yet easy to use.
In addition to the aforementioned, a team of scholars contributed to making sure these translations are as fluid and readable as possible. In both cases, new translations were drafted by Dr. George F. Dole and read for faithfulness to the Latin originals by Dr. Wendy Closterman and for faithfulness to the English language by Dr. Kristin King. Each translation then went through almost a hundred drafts as the NCE team went over every word, keeping track of the tangle of versions with a dedicated web site. The new edition also supplies hundreds of corrected references, hundreds of passages in the Bible and in Swedenborg’s other works that were alluded to but not referenced, and hundreds of items of additional bibliography for the interested reader to pursue.
Several more great works by Swedenborg will soon be available in the New Century Edition format. In the spring, the Foundation will publish Worship and Love of God, the poetic pretheological work, while the fall will see the publication of the first volume of True Christianity (also known as True Christian Religion) and a volume of essays on Swedenborg’s influence. In 2004, the second volume of True Christianity will be issued; and in subsequent years, Marriage Love (Conjugial Love), Survey (Brief Exposition), Soul-Body Interaction (Intercourse between the Soul and Body), and the first two volumes of Secrets of Heaven (Arcana Coelestia) will be offered.
Our sales of Heaven and Hell and the demand for new subscriptions to the series suggest that people are excited about the NCE. Almost fifty-five hundred volumes of the hardcover and paperback Heaven and Hell have sold in less than two years. As far as we can tell from the sales records, most of the buyers are not New Church or Swedenborgian. The work has already gone into reprint. In addition, several hundred copies of a new, slimmer, portable version have sold in the few months since it appeared in May 2002.
To translate, edit, design, typeset, print, market, store, and distribute this deluxe twenty-six-volume edition is an expensive undertaking, which will need the financial support of everyone who recognizes the value of this edition for expanding readership of Swedenborg’s works.
If you are on the LOGOS mailing list, you will soon receive a letter asking you to join the many others who believe that making Swedenborg’s insights available to all people is of paramount importance, especially at this time. Your generous donation, which is tax-deductible, will be used only for the future production and marketing of NCE volumes. It’s a great way to share the good news.