[1772] - Emmanuel Swedenborg dies

Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) was a Swedish scientist, philosopher and theologian whose spiritual writings influenced Blake, Goethe, Emerson and Dostoevsky, among others. He was born in Stockholm into a wealthy Lutheran family, and educated at Uppsala University. He developed interests in mathematics and the physical sciences before publishing the first of the three parts of his major scientific treatise, The Mineral Kingdom, in 1734.

From the early 1740s, however, he turned his attention to Christian mysticism. On the Easter weekend of April 1744 he claimed to have experienced a series of dreams and visions that led to his spiritual awakening. Thereafter, he announced that God had allowed him to access heaven and hell, and had ordered him to write a heavenly doctrine to reform Christianity. Subsequently, he wrote voluminously on theological matters, interpreting Scripture as the immediate word of God. Although he made no attempt to establish his own church or congregation, his writings were popular in England and America in the fifty years after his death. In the 1790s a society of devoted followers was established in Baltimore, and, by the middle of the nineteenth century, they had formed fifty-two separate congregations along the Atlantic coast of America. This marked the beginnings of the Church of the New Jerusalem, or New Church.

Although notable as a scientist and inventor, Swedenborg is generally remembered for his unorthodox spiritual beliefs. The author of more than fifty publications during his lifetime, his most popular work was Heaven and Hell (1758). He died peacefully in London in 1772 at the age of 84.

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