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For other English-language translations of this work, see Arcana Coelestia.

Arcana Coelestia













Organized in 1850 as
The American Swedenborg Printing and Publishing Society


Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. vi. 33).


The work commonly called the Arcana Coelestia was originally published by Emanuel Swedenborg in London, in the years 1749 to 1756. It was issued in eight large quarto "Parts," or volumes, and was written in Latin. In the original Latin the work has been once reprinted by the late en Dr. Jo. Fr. Immanuel Tafel, Librarian of the University of Tübingen, who issued the work in thirteen octavo volumes in the years 1833 to 1842. To this edition the editor added a carefully tabulated list of the errata that had occurred in the first edition, which are rather numerous, in consequence of the author, Swedenborg, whose residence was in Stockholm, having had no opportunity to revise the proof sheets.

At the instance of Swedenborg himself the second "Part" or volume was translated into English, and the translation so made was published in London simultaneously with the Latin Part of which it was a translation.

With this exception the first translation of the Arcana Coelestia was the work of the Rev. John Clowes, Rector of St. John's, Manchester, England, and was published in London in twelve octavo volumes, in the years 1774 to 1806. The work has since been translated into the Swedish, French, and German languages; and in English has appeared in numerous editions consisting for the most part of revisions and re-revisions of the translation made by Clowes.

A perfectly new and original translation into English was made by Mr. George Harrison, of Longlands, near Kendal, England, and was published in London in twelve fine octavo volumes in the years 1857 to 1860; but although the work of an excellent Latin scholar, and valuable for critical reference, the work was marred by editorial linguistic idiosyncrasies of such a character as very seriously to impair its general usefulness.

The eleventh volume was retranslated by Dr. Rudolph Leonard Tafel, and was published in London in the year 1890.

The first complete American edition was published in Boston in the years 1837 to 1847, in twelve volumes octavo; and was a revision made on the basis of the translation of Clowes and his revisers. The first four volumes of this edition were issued by the "Boston Printing Society," and the rest of the volumes by private persons.

The second American edition was published in New York in ten volumes in the years 1853 to 1857, by "The American Swedenborg Printing and Publishing Society," being a reprint of the current English edition.

The third American (or "Rotch") edition is now in course of publication in 12mo. Fifteen volumes have already been issued, and four more have yet to appear. The first nine volumes were published in New York with the imprint of the "New Church Board of Publication," and the remainder are being issued in Boston with that of the "Massachusetts New Church Union." The whole of the plates have been prepared at the cost of the Rotch legacy. The work was undertaken at the suggestion of the Rev. John Worcester, and wholly under his direction. A set of rules was prepared for the guidance of the various workers, and volumes were assigned to them for revision (or retranslation if they so chose to make it) on the basis of the old Boston Revision, but with the understanding that the whole would be revised and harmonized by the Director, as editor, with the assistance of his brother, Mr. Benjamin Worcester. Up to the present time the revision or retranslation has been the work chiefly of the Rev. Samuel Mills Warren, the Rev. Samuel Howard Worcester, the Rev. Samuel C. Eby, Mr. A. L. Kip, the Rev. Theodore F. Wright, Ph.D., and the Rev. Horace W. Wright; but as the work of these gentlemen has been subjected by the two editors to most careful and uncompromising revision, they cannot fairly be held responsible for everything that exists in the several volumes or portions of volumes labored on by them. The death of the Director occurred during the preparation for the press of the thirteenth volume; since which time the direction of the work has been continued in the hands of the surviving editor, Mr. Benjamin Worcester. Although under the circumstances it was perhaps inevitable that the work should display considerable variety of style and excellence, it is unquestionable that the volumes of this edition manifest a vast amount of painstaking and valuable labor, and the present Reviser here desires to acknowledge his great indebtedness to the work of the Rotch Translators and Editors.

The fourth American edition is that of which the first volume is now before the reader, and it claims to be no more than a revision compiled from the best previous translations and revisions, the most successful renderings of which have been carefully selected in conjunction with a close continuous comparison with the original Latin. Nevertheless new translation has been introduced in all cases in which no previous satisfactory rendering of words or passages had been made.

The translation of the group of words that includes Cognoscere, Cognitio, Scire, Scientia, Scientificum, Scientificus, and in the plural, Scientifica, presents what is probably the greatest difficulty that is encountered by the translator of Swedenborg's theological works. Used by him with definite and distinct meanings, in English we have only the words "Know" and "Knowledge" wherewith to render them, for "Cognize" and "Cognition," and "Science" and "Scientific" are by no means the equivalents of the corresponding or cognate Latin words. Yet on account of the correspondential distinctions, and also of the doctrinal ideas, involved, it is imperative that Swedenborg's distinctive use of these Latin words should in some way be conveyed to the English reader.

By Scire, Scientia, and Scientifica, Swedenborg indicates mere memory-knowledge, that is, the knowledge men have in the external memory without application to life and practice (see his definition of these terms in Arcana Coelestia, n. 27, 1486, 2718, 5212); whereas Cognoscere and Cognitio are used in the stronger sense of actual and real knowledge of the matter in question, either by experience or in some other way; as when we say, "I do not think so; I know it." This is Cognoscere.

An interesting example of the peculiar force there is in the former class of words is Swedenborg's expression fides scientifica. To render this, as has been done, "scientific faith" may do but little injury to the learned reader who is able to think in Latin, and who may therefore be aware that it is a mere faith of the memory that is meant; but it is evident that with such a rendering the ordinary reader is bound to go far and ludicrously astray.

Another such example is to be found in Swedenborg's rather common expression Scientia cognitionum, used in connection with the Philistines, and usually rendered "science of knowledges," and in the Rotch edition "learning of knowledges;" both of which renderings utterly fail to convey the author's meaning, which is simply the "memory-knowledge of knowledges;" that is to say, the people who are represented by the Philistines are those who store up knowledges from the Word in the memory, but have no other knowledge of them than a mere memory-knowledge; thus have not the knowledge of them that comes from a life in accordance with them. A most important point; and it is terrible that it should be so completely lost from view as has been the case.

The same remark applies to the signification in the Word of "Egypt." Swedenborg's definition of the signification of "Egypt" is Scientia, or Scientifica. To render these terms "science," and "scientifics," is attended with the disastrous result that the ordinary reader supposes (and even preachers have habitually manifested the same lamentable ignorance) that "Egypt," as mentioned in the Word, has something to do with science as generally understood; and thus the whole point of the Divine instruction given in the Word in connection with Egypt and the Egyptians is completely lost.

In the present Revision of the "Arcana" an effort has been made to translate this group of words on a systematic plan, so as to indicate to the English reader the terminology and the meaning that exist in the original wherever these words occur. To this end the following renderings have been adopted:—

Cognitio, Cognitiones = "knowledge," "knowledges."

Scientia (except when it really means "science") = "memory-knowledge."

Scientiae, Scientifica = "memory-knowledges."

The Latin words have also been given in parenthesis wherever for any reason this seemed to be called for.

J. F. P.

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This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.