Tribute by Jonathan S. Rose
Our beloved colleague Rev. Dr. George F. Dole passed away on June 29, 2021 after a very brief illness. At the hospital he expressed his desire not to be given life-saving measures, adding that he “had had a great life.” He soon lapsed into unconsciousness, remained in that condition for a brief time, and transitioned to the spiritual world shortly after the arrival of his grandchildren.
He passed just nine days shy of his ninetieth birthday (7/8/21).
For George, this sudden transition to the spiritual world no doubt entails a wonderful release from deafness and other ailments and a return to youthful vigor. His friends and loved ones in the spiritual world will be thrilled. For his wife and family and all who loved him who are still in this world, though, the sudden loss may come as a shock.
As you probably know, George was a key figure in the New Century Edition, an architect of the project and one of its four translators.
He literally wrote the standards and guidelines at the outset of the New Century Edition project, and I see his insights everywhere not only in his own translations but in those of his colleagues on the New Century Edition, myself included. He saw new ways of handling the rhetorical questions that Swedenborg seemed to love so much; he saw behind the literal rendering “is in” and inserted “involved,” “engaged,” and the like to help the Latin have the appropriate impact on the English reader; and countless other such discoveries.
He translated Heaven and Hell, New Jerusalem, Other Planets, The Lord, Sacred Scripture / White Horse, Life / Faith, Last Judgment / Supplements, Divine Love and Wisdom, Divine Providence, Revelation Unveiled, Marriage Love, and Soul-Body Interaction—fifteen of the eighteen published theological titles! All but the last three are in print.
In fact he is probably the only person in history who has ever published translations of the same work of Swedenborg’s more than once, and he did it more than once: Heaven and Hell, and Divine Love and Wisdom.
He wrote many books of his own for the Swedenborg Foundation and other publishers, and was a leading new church theologian and thinker. Favorites of mine are A Scientist Explores Spirit (with Bob Kirven) and A Book about Us. His most recent book with the Foundation, published in 2018, was The Universe and I: Where Science & Spirituality Meet. He gave countless talks and classes over the years, including appearing on an episode of the Transcendiots webcast with Foundation board director Cory Bradford-Watts.
He was a full board member of the Swedenborg Foundation for forty-two years, and remained a board associate up to the time of his passing. He was president of the Foundation and served it in many capacities.
I am fond of bragging that the NCE team has degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Oxford—and that’s just George Dole! We were extremely fortunate to have someone of his caliber devote so much love, creativity, goodwill, brilliance, time, and hard work to the project.
As I imagine you all know, he was one of only half-dozen runners in the famous race in which Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile.
For all his brilliance and achievements, he was a humble, approachable, even self-deprecating person in many ways, with a unique and effervescent wit; he was also a very wise and tender-hearted pastor who would lend solid support at a time of need. I will let others speak to his decades of ministry and service to his church and beyond—all I will say here is that he was well loved by people young and old, and that his spontaneous prayers in NCE meetings reflected a deep and seemingly always-available faith and trust in the Lord—a goodness.
I hasten to say, however, that George would probably object to my use of that word “goodness”! He was deeply committed to the idea that “good” is not something abstract. Forget the “ness”–it is active and personal and real.
He was a devoted and doting husband and a loving father and grandfather.
He was a delight to be around and will be sorely missed as an earthly presence, although we can confidently expect that the bonds of love and shared understanding will keep his spirit near.
Read more about George’s extraordinary life in his obituary.
Browse through the articles George wrote for the NCE Minute, which featured the interesting things he encountered and insights he developed during his Latin translation process.