The underlying motivation for this study has come from a desire to improve translation of Swedenborg’s Writings. Compared to the original Latin the translations of the standard English edition are relatively flat and lifeless. The content is largely reproduced, but the tone is noticeably different. Much reading in both the English and the Latin has eventually suggested to me that earlier English translators were relatively deaf to nuances of tone and style in the Latin. Swedenborg’s Latin features striking shifts in style from one book, from one paragraph, even from one sentence to the next, but the translators of the past did not keep pace. I fear that many of them had too little Latin and consequently had to go one word at a time, relying heavily on the dictionary—a method that has the effect of smoothing out shifts in tone and style. The translators seem to have sensed no tone or style in the original and almost unwittingly injected into the translation their own sense of what the style should be, resulting in a uniformity, one might even say a monotony, of style.
As enlightened men, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) made remarkable claims. Their two systems share many features and philosophical and theological positions. Even their personal lives contain similarities. Despite the similarities, one finds major differences between the two.
In Emanuel Swedenborg’s Angelic Wisdom Concerning Divine Providence (1763) we find three passages dealing with the anatomical arrangement of the human body according to degrees of order, from smallest to largest parts. Since all the parts are connected in this series, no part can be acted upon without all parts being in some way affected. The whole is changed when the least particular is moved.Divine Providence paragraph 124 says this most succinctly, 125 extends the concept, and 180 revisits and expands the theme in the context of the fallen human will. This idea of wholeness is found elsewhere in the Writings, and is in fact a common and recurrent theme of New Church theology.