SWEDENBORG AND THE NETHERLANDS.
During his life, Swedenborg
The main purpose of
these visits was to have his writings printed, in
Swedenborg's activities and publications had a certain influence in Dutch literature.
In the magazine Swedenborgiana I published a number of articles.
The following is a short extract from these articles.
about Swedenborg’s visits to the
stayed in the
He thought this country was beautiful, and he praised the republican government in his time, but what he did not like about the Dutchman was their materialistic attitude, and their greed.
He wondered: "Why it has pleased the Lord to bless this harsh and greedy people with such a beautiful land."
During a visit to
These were precisely the reasons for his coming.
He was attracted to the universities and the scholars residing here.
Driven by a thirst
for knowledge, he sought the company of astronomers, mathematicians, mining engineers
and philosophers, as well as craftsman and instrument makers, from whom he could
learn those skills.
He was close friends
with the Swedish ambassador, by whose mediation he was allowed to carry out astronomical
observations at the Observatory in
There he also learned
the technique of grinding lenses, presumably from Jan van Musschenbroek,
who at the time was appointed as instrument maker of the university.
But unfortunately, Swedenborg did not record all his meetings, he wrote:
“It would be too detailed to list all the learned men I got to know during this trip, since I never missed an opportunity to do so, and never failed to visit libraries, collections and other interesting things.”
About this stay only a few short notes are in his diary, that he travelled over Deventer, Amersfoort and Naarden to Amsterdam, and then to Gouda, Rotterdam, Dordrecht and Willemstad towards Antwerps in Belgium.
In 1739 & ‘40 Swedenborg lived in
because of his dreams and visions.
In the night of April
6/7 that year he stayed in the city of
A detailed report
of what happened there, is recorded in "Swedenborg's
Journal of Dreams".
It appears he then
finally decided to have his great theological work "Arcana
Coelestia" published anonymously in
In 1762 & ‘63. Swedenborg came back to
The title was ‘The Doctrines about the Lord, the Holy Scripture, about Faith and the Doctrine of Life.
Furthermore, the "Continuation of the Last Judgement" and
“Angelic Wisdom on Divine Love and Divine Wisdom”.
The title of that
book is: “Conjugial Love”, which appeared in
Like all the other works this was also in Latin.
In 1769 the "Brief Summary of the Doctrines
About none of his
stays in the
Many details may be found in Cyriel Sigstedt’s “Swedenborg Epic”,
as well as in other biographies.
Despite his numerous visits to my country, there is no evidence that he had special friends among the Dutch.
His contacts in
Most of the time he was in the company of foreigners like himself.
One of the few Dutchman
with whom he had a friendly relationship was Arnout
Vosmaer, who later became the director of the Natural
Historical Cabinet of William the Fifth.
Apparently, he avoided
large gatherings, and he shunned Dutch ministers.
After this last stay
in the Republic, he travelled to
influence in the
In his memoirs Cuno writes:
different religions remain silent, they let him write even though he writes against
the doctrines of both Protestants and Catholics …”
The first public review
of any of Swedenborg’s writings of appeared in an
The anonymous reviewer
expressed his appreciation for the person, as well as scepticism about his teachings.
The article is titled: “Message about the celebrated Swedenborg”, and begins:
“The famous Swedenborg is only know to us as ghost-seer and ghost-speaker,
so the next story may
show the fallacy of this view.
With some individuals
in the eighties, criticism turned into enthusiasm.
Van Goens, who was Professor in
About “Heaven and
Hell” he writes:
How can this man know all these things ?!”
There are several other facts from the late eighteenth century.
A Dutch text was published
anonymously in 1786, which was a portion
of Heaven and Hell. The translator is unknown, but on the pamphlet was printed:
“at the expense of James Glen, Servant of the
This is also one of
the few 18th century references to the
About James Glen is
also known that he and others, as for instance Robert Hindmarsch,
played a role in the establishment of the first New Church Societies in
In the Swedenborg
bibliographies by Hyde and Tafel he is called a devoted
supporter of the New Jerusalem doctrines.
After 1790 the attention
for Swedenborg had clearly grown in the
The church historian IJsbrand van Hamelsveld expressed this interest as follows:
"Swedenborg appears to be a prophet sent by God, in order to unfold the relationship of the spiritual world with the physical world, and to provide the true doctrines for mankind’s happiness, and he finds thousands of followers.”
Van Hamelsveld produced two publications on Swedenborg:
Also on developments
More details about the 18th century are not available.
The Nineteenth Century.
During his stay in England Bilderdijk came in contact with various Swedenborgians.
After returning, he
shows more clearly his interest in Swedenborg's doctrines, especially in his great
poem: ‘The Spiritual World’, 1811.
In 1809 he became
a minister in Herveld,
It is difficult to make an accurate picture of his spiritual evolution, especially with regard to Swedenborg, because his correspondence was lost.
His extensive collection
of Swedenborg works however, remains available in the Bibliotheca Thysiana in
these are really not insignificant figures in my country, who dealt with Swedenborg before 1810.
But interest is something else than influence.
For many Dutchman Swedenborg, at the beginning of the 19th century, was no stranger.
The ideas about him vary from "a dangerous fanatic" to "a curious and lovable man", but only a genial figure like Van Goens, and besides him maybe Bilderdijk, grasped the depth of Swedenborg's revelations.
It would be far into
the 19th century, before the significance of his ideas found wider recognition
and appreciation, because it took over 50 years before another Dutch publication
a historical sketch
written by J.J. van Oosterzee, published in
“A man who during his life was known to many rulers, nobles, scholars,
thinkers, and poets througout Europe, and after his
death lives on in respectful remembrance of several thousands of followers.
An interesting historical remark is made by Van Oosterzee where he, referring to the members of the Church of the New Jerusalem, says:
"Generally, they are known to be no fantasts nor fanatics, but gentle, hard working people, often outstanding philanthropists. They just call the Bible their father, and Swedenborg their mother, and his writings are considered as "the third testament".
In 1882 Elise van Calcar (1822-1904) published her book called:
"Emanuel Swedenborg, The Seer".
Van Calcar is known as a fighter for women's emancipation,
and as a writer on psychological phenomena.
The book is a serious study, much appreciation is expressed,
but also criticism.
She wrote: "Swedenborg has hundreds of thousands of admirers, not only within the limits of the Society which is called after him.
Currently he can be regarded as the ‘father of modern spiritualism’
and as such his admirers are counted in millions.’
Despite the sympathetic style of the author, Elise van Calcar contributed, by such testimony to a persistent misunderstanding, that Swedenborg was a spiritualist, even the father of modern spiritualism.
This view of the celebrated writer, was widely accepted as correct,
and simply taken over by writers over again and again.
who openly opposed any
association of Swedenborg with spiritualism.
In 1881 Mr. & Mrs. Barger, who was an
engineer residing in Voorburg, started the first
in 1899 with a new translation of:
‘Heaven and Hell’, published in cooperation with our Swedenborg Society in
Swedenborg and The Netherlands, the 20th century.
He started producing
a number of booklets and articles about the high significance of the theological
works of Emanuel Swedenborg.
In 1906 the book: ‘Nature of Spirit’ by Rev.
Chauncy Giles, was published by the Theosophical Publishing
The initiators were
Mr. & Mrs. Barger and Ernst Deltendre, a lawyer residing in
In 1910 Barger attended the first Swedenborg
Society Centenary, here in
In 1912 Ernst Deltendere
was ordained as a minister of the
He had a
Jean Jacques Gaillard, a well-known Belgian painter,
who found his inspiration in Swedenborg’s writings.
Rev. Deltendre served The Hague Society too;
it is recorded that
in 1920, during a service he baptized
For time sake, I do not list here the whole series, but I can assure you it is an impressive output.
Many of his books
have the imprint of the Academy of the
several titles were realized with the support of this Swedenborg Society.
Barger died one year
before the establishment of the first official Congregation of the
In my opinion Barger is the greatest Swedenborgian in Dutch history.
He initiated a grass root movement, which became a flourishing publishing society, conjoined with a serious New Church Congregation.
In 1923 Ernst Pfeiffer, born in
He began publishing
a magazine for the
By 1929 the membership of the
played an important role
in Swedenborgian publishing, for which he provided the means, and later also in
the doctrinal development of the
He wanted to make this title available for his fiancé,
so she could read it in her native language.
That’s how he met Anton Zelling in 1926, and gave him a contract.
Zelling devoted the rest of his live to the translation of the whole Latin Word in Dutch, and he succeeded, when in 1974 the last volume of the ‘Spiritual Diary’ was printed.
Again, for time sake, I do not list the complete series and the details.
Thanks to Zelling’s efforts the Dutch language is among the few languages that have Swedenborg’s complete theological writings available. The other languages are English, German, French and of course in Latin.
In 1930 the monthly magazine ‘Hemelse Leer’ = ‘Celestial Doctrine’ was first published; it had 10 volumes, until 1940.
The magazine regularly published Zelling’s new translations and also doctrinal studies lectures and speeches.
Important contributions were made by Ernst Pfeiffer, Theodore Pitcairn, Harry Groeneveld and others.
Their articles focused on the inner meaning of the Latin Word.
Eventually this led
to a schism in the New Church Community in the
In 1937 the ‘Lord’s
From 1950 until 1958 Rev. Durban Odhner, was the
His successor Rev. Peter van Balen called this one of the best collateral works available in Dutch.
After graduating from
the theological school of the Lord's
Peter van Balen (1921-1989) was ordained priest in 1964.
In the following 25
years, he would lead the
‘Announcements of the New Church’.
He also left us the
largest series of
Me and my family were baptised by him in 1984.
His sudden death in 1989 is a mark stone in the recent history of
The group was infiltrated and dominated by persons who had more interest in the means of the Church, then in it’s teachings,
and both the congregation and the publishing society diminished.
From 1995 until 2009 Paul Booth was the visiting
pastor, but he achieved nothing worth to report, except lack of activities and
my person’s excommunication from the Church in
The last decade we in Holland enjoyed Rev. Fred Elphick’s visits to the small flock,
and we work together
with Ed Verschoor, the representative for the
In 1992 I started the quarterly magazine Swedenborgiana,
currently doing Volume 18.
In 1993 my translation of ‘Last Judgement’ was printed in cooperation with our German speaking friends of Swedenborg Verlag Zürich.
In 1995 ‘Interaction of soul and body’ was realized in the same way.
When Windows ‘95 occurred Swedenborg Boekhuis was instituted
at swedenborg-dot-nl as the Digital Swedenborg Library in Dutch.
It would take me another half hour to give you a tour
through all the digital publications in modern Dutch there.
But do not worry, I will not do sJ.
However, a book that must be mentioned is: ‘Swedenborg’
published by the Dutch writer and historian Robert Lemm,.
The author situates Swedenborg in the history of literature in a great style.
The book was first presented at the 2nd Swedenborg Symposium,
which we organized, in 2006.
More new physical books published by Swedenborg Boekhuis are:
2001 Heaven and Hell, in modern Dutch by Guus Janssens.
2003 Memorabilia from Conjugial Love
2006 Memorabilia from TCR
2009 Providentia, Swedenborg’s
magnificent book on Divine Providence, which could be printed thanks to the support
of the Lord’s
These last 3 titles are translated by my best Swedenborgian friend
Henk Weevers, who is also present here.
2010. Finally, as said, the magazine and the digital library
have generated too much interesting new translations, collaterals, articles etcetera, to report here now.
Therefore, with regard to tomorrow’s topic, I would say:
The future of Swedenborgian publishing is DIGITAL.
However, a good book will always remain!
So – Publish & Be Blessed,
and thank you for your attention.