Lexicon Entry: Ancient Word

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At first, the Ancient Church had no Word other than the collections of doctrinal matters gathered by “Enoch” from the Most Ancient Church (AC 1241, AC 3432). At some point, however, they also had the Ancient Word, a written Word consisting of histories and prophecies similar to those of the Old Testament (AC 2897). In fact, Moses quoted the first seven chapters of Genesis and a few verses in Numbers (Num. 21:14, 15, 27- 30) from the Ancient Word (SS 103, TCR 279). The narrative portions of the Ancient Word were called “The Wars of Jehovah,” which described the Lord’s combats with the hells and His victories over them at the time when He would come into the world. The prophetical parts were called “Enunciations.” There was also another prophetical book called “The Book of Jashar” or “The Book of the Upright” (SS 103). These texts were the Word , not only because they were Divinely inspired, but because they were written entirely in correspondences so that the internal sense treated of the Lord and His kingdom (AC 2686, SS 103, SS 102).

Religion was spread throughout the whole world from the Ancient Word (DP 254). This happened because the Ancient Church was a widespread church, carrying the Ancient Word with it throughout the land of Canaan on both sides of the Jordan, and also to Syria, Assyria and Chaldea, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Arabia, Tyre and Sidon (DP 328). It is because of the Ancient Word that all the inhabitants of the earth have some knowledge of God and the life after death (SS 117). The wise men of old who wrote about God and the immortality of the soul, including Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca, did not think these things up by themselves, but learned it by tradition from others who first learned about it from the Ancient Word (SS 115).

In process of time, the religious systems based on the Ancient Word became more or less idolatrous (AE 1177). Also, because the correspondences that filled that Word only remotely signified celestial and spiritual things, many people began to falsify those correspondences (SS 102). For this reason, by the Lord’s Divine Providence the Ancient Word disappeared (SS 102, TCR 279).

However, the Ancient Word is still preserved and in use among the angels who lived in ancient times and possessed that Word (TCR 266, SS 102). Also, Swedenborg spoke with spirits and angels who had lived in Great Tartary, and who told him that they had possessed the Ancient Word while on earth, and had used it in their Divine worship. Swedenborg tested what these spirits said by having them find the passages in their Word that Moses had quoted from the Ancient Word; from this it was evident to him that the Ancient Word still existed among the people of Great Tartary (TCR 279).

See also:

Aristotle, Canaan(Land of), Communication with the Spiritual World, Correspondences, Eber, The Fall, Idolatry, Tartary, The Word, Writing

Passages relating to the Ancient Word and the Ancient Churches:

AC 1071; AC 1241; AC 1409; AC 2686; AC 2895; AC 2897; AC 3424; AC 3432; AC 3686; AC 4964; AC 10632; AE 734; AE 1177; AR 11; CL 77; CL 78; DP 254; DP 328; HD 247; HH 327; SS 102; SS 103; SS 115; SS 117; SE 5605; TCR 265; TCR 266; TCR 273; TCR 275; TCR 279; Verbo 36; Verbo 37; Verbo 38
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