• Life / Faith: New Century Edition

    By Emanuel Swedenborg
    Translated by George F. Dole

    These two short works, which Swedenborg originally published separately, discuss two topics that are closely intertwined. In Life, he focuses on the conscious process of spiritual rebirth and reviews the inner sense of the Ten Commandments. In Faith, Swedenborg rejects the notion of faith without rational sense, defining faith as inner recognition of what is true, and he emphasizes that true faith occurs only when we love others and treat them well.  Read more

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Swedenborg originally published the two short works Life and Faith separately, but in the text he makes it clear the two title topics are closely intertwined: one cannot truly understand one apart from the other.

Life refers not to the life force that sustains us but to the way we live our lives. This short piece focuses on the concept of regeneration, or spiritual rebirth, as a process of consciously rejecting our own destructive impulses and internalizing love and goodness. It argues that the choices we make and the reasons we make them have everything to do with our salvation. Swedenborg includes a brief overview of the inner sense of the Ten Commandments as a way to understand the nature of the choice between good and evil.

In Faith, Swedenborg rejects the notion that faith can be a choice to believe things that make no rational sense. Instead, he defines faith as an inner recognition of what is actually true. He explores the complex relationship between faith and knowledge, and emphasizes that true faith can occur only in people who love others and treat them well.

Life / Faith is part of the New Century Edition of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg (NCE), an ongoing translation series. The NCE series incorporates the latest scholarship and translation standards for a more accurate and accessible rendering of Swedenborg’s works. Traditionally titled The Doctrine of Life and The Doctrine of Faith, these short works are often published together with two others—The Lord and Sacred Scripture—under the title The Four Doctrines. These four titles will be published together in the forthcoming NCE hardcover annotated volume The Shorter Works of 1763.

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.

About the New Century Edition

The New Century Edition of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg presents a modern-language, scholarly translation of Swedenborg’s theological works. The series’ easy-to-read style retains the dignity, variety, clarity, and gender-inclusive language of Swedenborg’s original Latin, bringing his thought to life. Introductions and annotations by eminent, international scholars place Swedenborg’s writings in their historical context and illuminate obscure references within the text, enabling readers to understand and trace Swedenborg’s influence as never before.

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