Skip to main content



SWEDENBORGIANISM. A religious movement based on the revelations of Emanuel Swedenborg (16881772), an eighteenth-century Swedish scientist and religious visionary. The son of a Swedish Lutheran theologian and bishop, Swedenborg was educated at Uppsala, and then traveled through the Continent and England. A visionary theoretical scientist, Swedenborg anticipated many later scientific discoveries, but gradually became convinced that material nature had an essentially spiritual foundation. His religious visions, which began in 1736, climaxed with a vision of Jesus in 1744, and from then on he devoted himself to his extensive spiritual writings. The essence of his thought centered around a correspondence between the physical and spiritual worlds; life on earth is merely preparation for a heavenly existence. The New Jerusalem Church, of which he was the prophet, would be the world's ultimate religion. Swedenborg did not intend, however, to form a separate church, but a fellowship of like-minded individuals. His thought had the most influence in England, where two Anglican priests, Thomas Hartley (d. 1784) and John Clowes (17431831), were early disciples. In 1787, a separate New Jerusalem Church was founded in London by former Wesleyan pastors, an organization that now has branches worldwide, mainly in English-speaking countries.

Swedenborg's thought and visions affected several major artists and writers; William Blake was a follower, and Swedenborgian influences have been seen in the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Honoré de Balzac, among others. Immanuel Kant was an early critic of Swedenborg and wrote his "Dreams of a Spirit-Seer" (1766) as a scathing polemic against his thought.

See also Catholic Spirituality and Mysticism .


Benz, Ernst. Emanuel Swedenborg: Visionary Savant in the Age of Reason. Translated by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. West Chester, Pa., 2002. Translation of the 2nd German edition of 1969.

Lamm, Martin. Emanuel Swedenborg: The Development of his Thought. Translated by Tomas Spiers and Anders Hallengren. West Chester, Pa., 2000. Translation of the Swedish original of 1915.

Mark Granquist

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Swedenborgianism." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . 19 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Swedenborgianism." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . (July 19, 2018).

"Swedenborgianism." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved July 19, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.