During his life, Swedenborg visited the Netherlands many times.

The main purpose of these visits was to have his writings printed, in Amsterdam.

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.


First about Swedenborg’s visits to the Netherlands.

Swedenborg frequently stayed in the Dutch Republic for a shorter or longer time, and this was not because he was so very found of my people.

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 Amsterdam, he wrote in his journal: “The whole town stinks of money.”

Yet Swedenborg also learned the favourable sides of the Dutch people, known for their high level in scientific education, and most of all the freedom of press.

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.

In 1712 Swedenborg visited
Holland for the first time, his age was 24 then. He spent five months in Utrecht, during the peace negotiations on the ending of the Spanish succession war.

He was close friends with the Swedish ambassador, by whose mediation he was allowed to carry out astronomical observations at the Observatory in Leiden.

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.

1713. It is very likely that Swedenborg attended some lectures of the famous Herman Boerhaave in

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.”

In 1721 Swedenborg returned to the
Netherlands to publish a number of scientific writings in Amsterdam.

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 Amsterdam during the autumn, to quietly work on one of his most fundamental scientific publications: Oeconomia, published in English under the title "Animal Kingdom".
The original edition was printed by François Changuion in

In 1743 & ’44 he travelled again to
Main reason was to publish a follow up to the "Oeconomia", named "Regnum Animale", which finally appeared in
The Hague printed by Adriaan Blyvenburg.
This stay had a special significance for him, because a great turning point in his life occurred. Already for a number of years he was in a state of inner turmoil

because of his dreams and visions.

In the night of April 6/7 that year he stayed in the city of Delft, where he had his first vision of the Lord, which caused great changes in his development.

A detailed report of what happened there, is recorded in "Swedenborg's Journal of Dreams".
Before his call in 1743, Swedenborg's visits to the
Netherlands were incidental, but then he started coming back with some regularity.

In 1747 & ‘48 he was twice in
Amsterdam for a short time during his travel to London and back, probably because of business contacts.

It appears he then finally decided to have his great theological work "Arcana Coelestia" published anonymously in London, what he did not want to do in Amsterdam, because he was too well known there.


In 1762 & ‘63. Swedenborg came back to Amsterdam, to publish a series of theological treatises, as always entirely on his own account.

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”.

One year later in 1764 the work "Divine Love and Wisdom" was published in
Amsterdam, and also “Divine Providence”.

1766. Again Swedenborg spent several months in
Amsterdam to print the “Apocalyps Revealed”.  Before he departed to England, he first sent a large number of copies of this work to ministers and theologians in France and Sweden.

1768. For the first time Swedenborg did not publish a theological title anonymously, but with his name on the title page.

The title of that book is: “Conjugial Love”, which appeared in Amsterdam.

Like all the other works this was also in Latin.


In 1769 the "Brief Summary of the Doctrines of the New Church" was published in Amsterdam. On the cover of two copies he wrote: “This book is the coming of the Lord, written on command”. From Amsterdam he send many copies of this book to all ministers known in the Netherlands and in Germany.

1771. In the age of 83 Swedenborg visited the
Netherlands for the last time, in order to edit and print his great doctrinal work: “True Christian Religion”

About none of his stays in the Netherlands we are as well informed as about his last visit, thanks to the autobiography of John Christian Cuno, a German merchant living in Amsterdam.

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 Holland were primarily in the business sphere.

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.
Swedenborg's other acquaintances were mostly scholars, diplomats, bankers, businessmen, printers and booksellers.

Apparently, he avoided large gatherings, and he shunned Dutch ministers.
It is not precisely known when Swedenborg left the
Netherlands for the last time, at least not before September 1771. because it is recorded that he had dinner on August 29 in The Hague, with his friend Arnout Vosmaer.

After this last stay in the Republic, he travelled to London where he died on March 29, 1772 in the age of 84 years.



Swedenborg's influence in the Netherlands at the end of the 18th century.
Illustrative for the reception of Swedenborg's ideas in the Netherlands are the comments of Johan Cuno, who I mentioned before.

In his memoirs Cuno writes:

“…Theologians from different religions remain silent, they let him write even though he writes against the doctrines of both Protestants and Catholics …”
And also: “It is amazing how powerful this man writes about heaven and hell, and even more surprising that these writings are openly known to the world, but not even one theologian shows interest”.

The first public review of any of Swedenborg’s writings of appeared in an Amsterdam magazine in 1769.

The anonymous reviewer expressed his appreciation for the person, as well as scepticism about his teachings.
It took more than ten years before a more positive sound about Swedenborg was heard. That happened in the weekly magazine "Monitor", in June 1780, edited by the physician Peter van Woensel and by the theologian Paul van Hemert.

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.
Then a biographical sketch follows in a very respectful tone.

With some individuals in the eighties, criticism turned into enthusiasm.
This is especially true for Rijklof Michael van Goens, who in 1785 suddenly started to read Swedenborg with great devotion.

Van Goens, who was Professor in Utrecht, wrote a long text about the road that lead him to the Swedish mystic.
Through an employee of the British embassy, he came into possession of several books of Swedenborg, which he read with enthusiasm.

About “Heaven and Hell” he writes:
"I started to read this book with a smile, but soon, after reading some paragraphs, I thought, this is very strange, and shortly thereafter, this is quite curious, and finally I became more and more serious, this is very interesting, increasing interesting!

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 New Church”.

This is also one of the few 18th century references to the New Church.

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 England and America.

A year later the first complete translation of a work by Swedenborg was published anonymously, this title was: “Interaction between the Soul and the Body”, published by Isaac Du Mee & Son, in
The Hague 1788.
It is suggested that it was probably William Gomm, secretary of the British embassy in
The Hague, who made this first Dutch translation, because some mistakes in Dutch grammar in the preface to the booklet, indicate that the writer is a foreigner.

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 Netherlands.

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:
1. "Brief Treatise on the Life of Emanuel Swedenborg, his scriptures and their relevance for current modern times, and 2, a “Theological extract from Swedenborg’s writings.

Also on developments outside the Netherlands, Van Hamelsveld writes:
“All kinds of fanatics, theosophists, adepts, mainly in the northern countries,
Germany, Holland and England joined the Swedenborg movement. This evil stqarted after Swedenborg’s death and is still increasing.”
Van Hamelsveld also wrote some things about an “Exegetical and philanthropic Society" in

More details about the 18th century are not available.

The Nineteenth Century.

An important Dutch writer in the early 19th century, who possessed a thorough knowledge of the theological works of Swedenborg, is William Bilderdijk (1756 1831). It was probably Van Goens, mentioned before, who introduced him to Swedenborg's works.

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.
It is his deepest desire to find the essential link between our world and the inhabitants of heaven. Yet, Bilderdijk always kept a certain reserve towards Swedenborg. One can certainly not call him a Swedenborgiaan.

Bilderdijk caused enthusiasm for the ideas of Swedenborg with another Dutchman, namely Barend Frederik Tydeman (1784-1829), a son of the famous Professor Meindert Tydeman.

Barent Frederick studied theology in Leiden, and was excellent in Arabic.

In 1809 he became a minister in Herveld, Gelderland.
There he began to read and to collect everything he could get about Swedenborg, He spoke and wrote openly and with enthousiasm about the new revelation.
He especially liked the English Swedenborgian John Clowes (1743 1831), from whom he translated: “The existence of evil spirits”, published in
Amsterdam 1826.

Unlike Bilderdijk, Tydeman accepted the ideas of Swedenborg without reservation and tried to fit these in the Reformed faith which he professed.

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 Leiden.

Cuno, Vosmaer, Van Goens, Van Hamelsveld, Bilderdijk, Tydeman

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 occurred, titled:
"Emanuel Swedenborg, the Northern Spirit Seer",

a historical sketch written by J.J. van Oosterzee, published in Amsterdam in 1875.
In the introduction to this 80 pages booklet Van Oosterzee (1817-1882) introduces Swedenborg as follows:

“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.
Dante of the North, the historian K. Hase called him in 1861; perhaps somewhat overdone, although an excellent philosopher like Ralph Waldo Emerson did not hesitate to draw parallel between him and Shakespaere”, he wrote.
Oosterzee writes further about the emerging interest in spiritualism in his days. Because of this movement he fears that the real significance of Swedenborg's works therefore will remain unknown.

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.

It was the first
Dutch New Church writer Gerrit Barger,

who openly opposed any association of Swedenborg with spiritualism.
In a booklet entitled: "Reasons why Swedenborgians are not spiritualists" he writes on Elise van Calcar’s ‘annoying error’.

In 1881 Mr. & Mrs. Barger, who was an engineer residing in Voorburg, started the first New Church Circle, which was visited by Bishop Benade in 1884.

In 1888 Bargers Dutch translation of: ‘The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine’, was published by means of the Swedenborg Foundation

Followed in 1899 with a new translation of: ‘Heaven and Hell’, published in cooperation with our Swedenborg Society in London.

Swedenborg and The Netherlands, the 20th century.

So you can say, that in the beginning of the twentieth century the interest in Swedenborg's works becomes clearer and cleaner, mainly through the efforts of Mr. Barger.

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 Society in Amsterdam.

In 1909 on April 10, the ‘Swedenborg Genootschap for
Holland and Belgium’ was founded officially.

The initiators were Mr. & Mrs. Barger and Ernst Deltendre, a lawyer residing in Brussels.


In 1910 Barger attended the first Swedenborg Society Centenary, here in London, where he found support to publish: ‘Interaction between Soul and Body’, printed in 1911.

In 1912 Ernst Deltendere was ordained as a minister of the General Church.

He had a New Church chapel in Brussels, which was decorated by

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 84 people.
Meanwhile Barger continued publishing new translations and collateral works.

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 New Church,

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 General Church of the New Jerusalem in 1922.

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 Switzerland, was appointed minister in the Hague.

He began publishing a magazine for the New Church called "The True Christian Religion."

By 1929 the membership of the New Church had increased to 116 members.

In 1926 ‘The book sealed with seven seals’ by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn was published in Dutch by the Swedenborg Genootschap in
The Hague.
Theodore Pitcairn, an American priest of the
General Church,

played an important role in Swedenborgian publishing, for which he provided the means, and later also in the doctrinal development of the New Church in Holland.
He was looking for a Dutch translator of ‘Conjugial Love’.

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 Netherlands and in America.

In 1937 the ‘Lord’s New Church which is Nova Hieroslolyma’ was instituted in The Hague, led by Rev. Ernst Pfeiffer.

The General Church congregation in Holland was diminished, but maintained in a small circle.


From 1950 until 1958 Rev. Durban Odhner, was the New Church minister in The Hague, where he published the ‘Catechism of the New Christian Church’ in 1958.

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 New Church,

Peter van Balen (1921-1989) was ordained priest in 1964.

In the following 25 years, he would lead the New Church in the Netherlands, in a solid way, with weekly services, regularly lectures and public meetings and with a free journal called

‘Announcements of the New Church’.

He also left us the largest series of New Church sermons in Dutch, over 600, as well as lectures, courses and studies.

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 Dutch New Church and it’s Swedenborg Society.

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 Hague.


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 General Church in Holland, who is present here too.

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 New Church in America, of which I’m a member.

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.


Guus Janssens.

London, June 2nd. 2010.