The Word

The Involution and Evolution of the Word
(From The Golden Age by C. T. Odhner, 1913)

Celestial Heaven
Substance | Freedom
Celestial Sense
The Lord
Celestial Mind
Will | Conscience
Love of the Word
Spiritual Heaven
Form | Law
Spiritual Sense
The Lord’s Kingdom
Spiritual Mind
Understanding | Rationality
of the Word (Truth)
Natural Heaven
Process | Activity
Literal Sense
Spiritual History
| Prophecy
Natural Mind
of the Word (law)
Sensual Earth
Sacred ScripturesPhysical Brain
Human Body
of Sacred Scripture
Practice of the Word
Wise/Just/ Useful Actions

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(From The Divine Allegory by Hugo Lj. Odhner at

It has been made plain to me by much experience that the spiritual angels are in the spiritual sense of the Word, and the celestial angels in its celestial sense. While reading the Word in its sense of the letter it has been given me to perceive that communication was effected with the heavens, now with this society of them, now with that, and that what I understood according to the natural sense, the spiritual angels understood according to the spiritual sense, and the celestial angels according to the celestial sense, and this in an instant. As I have perceived this communication many thousands of times, there remains with me no doubt about it. DSS 64—Emanuel Swedenborg

…. the Word has been given by the Lord to man and also to the angels in order that by it they may be with Him; for the Word is the medium that unites earth with heaven, and through heaven with the Lord. Its literal sense is that which unites man with the first heaven; and as within the literal there is an internal sense which treats of the Lord’s kingdom, and within this a supreme sense which treats of the Lord; and as these senses are in order one within another, it is evident what is the nature of the union with the Lord that is effected by means of the Word. [AC 3476] Emanuel Swedenborg

The Word is not understood, except by those who are enlightened. The human rational faculty cannot comprehend Divine, nor even spiritual things, unless it be enlightened by the Lord. Thus they only who are enlightened comprehend the Word. The Lord enables those who are enlightened to understand truths, and to discern those things which appear to contradict each other. The Word in its literal sense appears inconsistent, and in some places seems to contradict itself. And therefore by those who are not enlightened, it may be so explained and applied, as to confirm any opinion or heresy, and to defend any worldly and corporeal love. They are enlightened from the Word, who read it from the love of truth and good, but not they who read it from the love of fame, of gain, or of honor, thus from the love of self. They are enlightened who are in the good of life, and thereby in the affection of truth. They are enlightened whose internal is open, thus who as to their internal man are capable of elevation into the light of heaven. Enlightenment is an actual opening of the interiors of the mind, and also an elevation into the light of heaven. There is an influx of holiness from the internal, that is, from the Lord through the internal, with those who regard the Word as holy, though they themselves are ignorant of it. They are enlightened, and see truths in the Word, who are led by the Lord, but not they who are led by themselves. They are led by the Lord, who love truth because it is truth, who also are they that love to live according to Divine truths. The Word is vivified with man according to the life of his love and faith. The things derived from one’s own intelligence have no life in themselves, because from man’s proprium there is nothing good. They cannot be enlightened who have much confirmed themselves in false doctrine. [WH 7] Emanuel Swedenborg

There are in the Word, in general, four different styles. The first is that of the Most Ancient Church. Their mode of expression was such that when they mentioned terrestrial and worldly things they thought of the spiritual and celestial things which these represented. They therefore not only expressed themselves by representatives, but also formed these into a kind of historical series, in order to give them more life; and this was to them delightful in the very highest degree. This is the style of which Hannah prophesied, saying: Speak what is high! high! Let what is ancient come out of your mouth (1 Sam. 2:3). Such representatives are called in David, “Dark sayings of old” (Ps. 78:2-4). These particulars concerning the creation, the garden of Eden, etc., down to the time of Abram, Moses had from the descendants of the Most Ancient Church. [2] The second style is historical, which is found in the books of Moses from the time of Abram onward, and in those of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and the Kings. In these books the historical facts are just as they appear in the sense of the letter; and yet they all contain, in both general and particular, quite other things in the internal sense, of which, by the Lord’s Divine mercy, in their order in the following pages. The third style is the prophetical one, which was born of that which was so highly venerated in the Most Ancient Church. This style however is not in connected and historical form like the most ancient style, but is broken, and is scarcely ever intelligible except in the internal sense, wherein are deepest arcana, which follow in beautiful connected order, and relate to the external and the internal man; to the many states of the church; to heaven itself; and in the inmost sense to the Lord. The fourth style is that of the Psalms of David, which is intermediate between the prophetical style and that of common speech. The Lord is there treated of in the internal sense, under the person of David as a king. [AC 65-66] Emanuel Swedenborg

What are the books of the Word. The books of the Word are all those which have the internal sense; but those books which have not the internal sense, are not the Word. The books of the Word, in the Old Testament, are the five books of Moses, the book of Joshua, the book of Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, the Psalms of David, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; and in the New Testament, the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John; and Revelation. The rest do not have an internal sense. [NJHD 266] Emanuel Swedenborg

Our guide and authority in the interpretation of the Word by the knowledge of correspondences is the revelation of its spiritual meaning given by the Lord through the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. We find in these writings explicit instruction in regard to the spiritual meaning of certain books of the Word and of very many scattered passages, and a direct statement of the correspondence of many objects which is a guide to the spiritual meaning of all passages of the Word where those objects are named. It is however most desirable in the study of correspondences to avoid the mistake of thinking that correspondence is artificial and arbitrary, and to learn to see the living relation between the natural and the spiritual objects which correspond to each other. We therefore appeal first to the almost instinctive perception that the object or phenomenon which we are studying has relation to some state or activity of the mind, a relation to which common speech often bears witness. This perception we seek to make more full and exact, using as our guide the statements of Swedenborg of the correspondence of the natural object in question. Then we turn to the Word for illustration of the use of our newly-discovered symbol, and by its help draw beautiful and helpful spiritual lessons, as many as we are able. William L. Worcester

by Edward Craig Mitchell

Note: Most of the articles in THE WORD section are extracted from ON HOLY GROUND, Bible Stories by William L. Worcester, J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1909. Pictures are from Public Domain Books. Some pictures are from Standard Bible Story Readers by Lillie A. Faris illustrated by O. A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleveland .The Dore Bible Illustrations by Gustave Dore. Some Pictures are paintings by James Tissot courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.