My purpose in presenting this paper is to share with interested readers some ideas I have formed in my studies on the ancient world and the churches specific of that world (the Ancient, Israelitish and early Christian Churches). I have observed trends or developments in the ancient world which seem to have been concurrent and which I believe were essential for the preparation of the Christian Church. The pre-Advent churches of the historical Ancient Near East (c. 3000 B.C. to the time of the Lord’s first coming), namely the Ancient and Israelitish Churches, were vastly different from the post-Advent churches of the Mediterranean world. That change was marked by the Lord’s personal example and teaching when He revealed Himself directly to mankind. It is my contention that certain necessary developments in culture, especially in human thought, took place in the Ancient Near East and in Greece which prepared for the expression and spread of the Christian Church. My subject then is early western thought (pre-philosophy and early philosophy). My hope is that my readers will share with me insights, information, or counter-arguments after they have read this paper.
I have referred in the previous article to the fact that the cosmology in The Worship and Love of God (and that of the Principia from which it is derived) seems to belong on a “line” of cosmologies running through Greek and Roman literature to a very early source. The image of the vortical movement of creation occurs all over the world: in megalithic design, in the Hindu myth of the “churning of the ocean” and in similar myths among the Pueblo peoples of the southwestern United States, and on the north-west coast of America, where it is usually symbolised as a whirl-pool.1 Our current knowledge of the pre-Greek literatures of the Middle East and the material collected by ethnographers enables us to trace this line with fair assurance; but this material was not available to Swedenborg. It is astonishing that he should have succeeded in finding this central line on the basis of a knowledge only of Scripture and of Greek and Latin literature.