• A Thoughtful Soul

    Reflections from Swedenborg

    By Emanuel Swedenborg
    Edited and translated by George F. Dole
    Foreword by Huston Smith

    George Dole has translated and arranged by theme a selection of passages from Emanuel Swedenborg’s works on life, heaven and hell, and the nature of God. An accessible introduction for the reader new to Swedenborg. Read more

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In this thoughtful introduction to Emanuel Swedenborg’s spiritual writings, author George F. Dole leads the reader through a philosophical consideration of how this eighteenth-century theology fits into modern concepts of knowledge, self, and the afterlife.

Starting with the question of knowledge—how we come to accept the things that we believe to be true—Dole then offers Swedenborg-based examples of the oneness underlying all of reality and examines what that suggests about the interconnection of the physical and spiritual worlds. This leads to a discussion of what it means to live a morally good life and how that impacts the choices we make in daily life, followed by questions of what that means for spiritual community. The final chapter wraps all of these themes together as Dole tackles the central concept of Swedenborg’s theology—God.

Each of the ten chapters starts with a brief introduction from Dole followed by a series of short excerpts from Swedenborg’s writings that illustrate the point. For this volume, all of Swedenborg’s words were translated from the Latin by Dole himself, who is also a translator for the New Century Edition of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg.

About the Author

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was a Swedish scientist, nobleman, and theologian who spent his life investigating the mysteries of the soul. Born in Stockholm to a staunchly Lutheran family, he graduated from the University of Uppsala and then traveled to England, Holland, France, and Germany to study the leading scientists of the time. He gained favor with Sweden’s King Charles XII, who gave him a position on the board of overseers of the Swedish mining industry. Later, he was granted a seat on the Swedish House of Nobles by Charles XII’s successor, Queen Ulrika Eleonora. Between 1743 and 1745 he began to have visions of heaven, hell, and Jesus Christ that resulted in a stream of books about the nature of God, the afterlife, and the inner meaning of the Bible. He devoted the last decades of his life to studying Scripture and presenting his own unique theology to the world.


George F. Dole holds a BA from Yale, an MA from Oxford, and a PhD from Harvard. Now professor emeritus, Dr. Dole taught ancient languages, the Bible, and theology at the Swedenborg School of Religion in Newton, Massachusetts. He is also the author of Freedom and Evil, Sorting Things Out, and A Book about Us. He lives in Bath, Maine.


“George F. Dole … has done us a great service in bringing Emanuel Swedenborg back to the attention of our distracted age.”

—from the foreword by Huston Smith

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