The New Philosophy Vol 117 No 3-4, July-December 2014
The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California, was formed in 1962 as an ecumenical consortium for religious and theologicaleducation, part of a larger groundswell of interdenominational goodwill that included the liberalizing policies of the second VaticanCouncil (or “Vatican II”). Today the GTU is not only a leader in interdenominational divinity programs, but remains a pioneer of interreligiousgraduate education, with centers and programs for Jewish Studies, Buddhism, and Islamic Studies, in addition to its eight Protestant and Catholic-affiliated seminaries and theological institutions. Since 2002, the Swedenborgian House of Studies, formerly the Swedenborg School of Religion in Andover, Massachusetts, has resided at the Pacific School of Religion—one of the founding Protestant members of the GTU consortium—and has contributed distinctly Swedenborgian courses and theologyinto the broader GTU curricula over the last decade.
We are delighted to have Dr. Devin Zuber, M.A., M.Phil. serve as Guest Editor for this issue. Dr. Zuber is Assistant Professor for American Studies, Literature, and Swedenborgian Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He is a graduate of Bryn Athyn College (B.A., 2000). The articles included here are papers of students in his spring 2013 course on “Swedenborg and History.” As a matter of record for the Swedenborg Scientific Association we include in this issue the Treasurer’s Report for 2013. As there was no Annual Meeting in the traditional sense in 2014, no transactions are included.
Promotional Material: In a book that will interest Swedenborgians and Kantians—but also those who are concerned with Schopenhauer and metaphysics generally—Gottlieb Florschütz has given us a careful tracing ofthe Sage of Königsberg’s changing attitude toward the famous Seer of the North.
Though Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) and ‘Ala’ ad-dawla as-Simnani (1261–1336) lived in very different times and contexts, a close reader may observe many striking similarities present in their exegetical works on the Bible and the Qur’an. While a more thorough comparison of the two mystics’ ideas would undoubtedly prove valuable, such an endeavor would require extensive analysis, which falls beyond the scope of the present paper. As such, I will confine the present study to a comparison of Swedenborg’s exegesis of Genesis 1:1–2:3, in which he describes the stages of spiritual regeneration, with Simnani’s conception of seven spiritual stages, each of which corresponds with one of the Qur’anic prophets.
Emanuel Swedenborg is known for his significant contributions to both the natural sciences and theology. In 1744, at age 56, Swedenborg experienced a religious crisis causing him to lay aside his science career and devote himself to theology and to becoming a “humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.” His extensive religious writings posthumously inspired some of his readers to create their own sect, which is today a small worldwide church. Though Swedenborg’s life is often split into two distinct scientific and theological periods, his early ekphrastic poems “In Fabros qvi majors ferri massas formant” (“on the smiths that form large masses of iron”) and “In Fodinam Fhalunensem” (“On the mine in Falun”) reveals interdependence between his science and theology. The purposeof this essay is to highlight the important role that poetry played for Swedenborg as a medium which could communicate about the intersections of science and theology.
Wassily Kandinsky’s groundbreaking book, "Concerning the Spiritual in Art", appeared in December 1911, and has come to be considered perhaps the most influential art theoretical book of the twentieth century. In it, Kandinsky lays out his belief that art, especially abstract painting, can counteract the degenerative effects of contemporary materialist society and help usher in the coming “epoch of the Great Spiritual.” By movingaway from recognizable imagery of the visible world, and relying solely on color and non-representational form, he believed, painters could access and express the invisible realities behind our everyday experience of the world, thus acting as vanguard for the rest of humanity as it evolved toward a higher state of consciousness.