In this meticulous study, Wouter Hanegraaff examines the structure, themes, and development of Emanuel Swedenborg’s massive work Arcana Coelestia, published between 1749 and 1756. Written as a work of biblical exegesis (of Genesis and Exodus), Swedenborg also interpolated material on his visionary experiences, which have long fascinated readers.

In the second part of the study, Dr. Hanegraaff examines the contemporary reception of the multi-volume work, particularly the critical reactions of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Christoph Oetinger. He finds that Swedenborg’s biblical exegesis, so important in his divine calling, was largely ignored in favor of the mystical experiences.

About the Author

Wouter Hanegraaff is professor of History and Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam. He has published widely on historical and theoretical aspects of the study of Western esotericism, including a recent study of the 15th-century Hermetic philosopher Lodovico Lazzarelli and a highly acclaimed publication New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought.


“Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Professor of History of Mermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, University of Amsterdam) presents Swedenborg, Oetinger, Kant: Three Perspectives on the Secrets of Heaven is both a close scrutiny of spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg’s Secrets of Heaven, and an examination of how philosophers Friedrich Christoph Oetinger and Immanuel Kant responded to Swedenborg’s ideas, including Oetinger’s transition from qualified acceptance to unqualified rejections, and Kant’s review and later lectures on metaphysics. Number 18 in the Swedenborg Studies Series, Swedenborg, Oetinger, Kant is a scholarly, intellectual discussion of the intersection of three quintessentially notable thinkers of their era. Especially recommended as a companion study volume to Swedenborg’s Secrets of Heaven itself.”

The Midwest Book Review / Wisonsin Bookwatch, July 2007

About the Swedenborg Studies Series

Swedenborg Studies is a scholarly series published by the Swedenborg Foundation. The primary purpose of the series is to make materials available for understanding the life and thought of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) and the impact his thought has had on others. The Foundation undertakes to publish original studies and English translations and to republish primary sources that are otherwise difficult to access.

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Wouter Hanegraaff





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