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Upcoming Events


Thought from the Understanding: Swedenborg’s Library and the Shape of a Mind

Location: Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania (optional remote attendance)

Date: October 26, 2024

Registration Deadline: October 21, 2024 – registration coming soon.

This one-day interdisciplinary conference invites scholars to explore Emanuel Swedenborg’s personal library for points of connection between the works he held in his library and the ideas presented in his own philosophical and theological works. Long before he embarked on the spiritual journey which led to the revolutionary works of theology he published, Swedenborg was a voracious learner, and his many fields of interest are reflected in his wide-ranging library, which included works of philosophy, anatomy, history, physics, chemistry, metallurgy, engineering, and classical learning, as well as, of course, Biblical and religious thought. Conference papers will investigate connections between Swedenborg’s works and some of the most important texts and figures in his library. See schedule below.

Participants may attend the conference in person or remotely.

This one-day conference is free for members, $15 for non-members. For those attending the conference in person, we suggest an additional $10 contribution for participants wishing to attend the reception at the end of the conference.

To become a member, visit Institute for Swedenborg Studies | Bryn Athyn College. If you are uncertain about whether or not your membership is current, please send an inquiry to


Saturday, October 26, 2024
1:00pm Welcome
1:10pm The Most Esteemed Church Father: Swedenborg’s Reading of Augustine | Jim Lawrence
1:45pm For Sailors and Seers: Swedenborg’s References to the Work of Hugo Grotius | Andrew Dibb
2:20pm Break
2:40pm Swedenborg’s Bibles | Stephen Cole
3:15pm Judaism and the Covenant in Swedenborg and the Epistle of Barnabas | Michael Goos
3:50pm Response | Rebecca K. Esterson
4:10pm Wrap Up

For participants in person on Bryn Athyn’s campus:


Swedenborgiana Display | Swedenborg Library




Past Events

Swedenborg, the Old Testament, and the Age of Enlightenment

Rebecca K. Esterson
April 12, 4:00 p.m., College Center and livestreamed, Bryn Athyn, PA 

In the Age of Enlightenment the Old Testament came under attack by leading philosophers and deists who characterized the Hebrew scriptures as outdated, immoral, and contrary to reason. The work of Thomas Paine and Immanuel Kant, for instance, rejected the authority of the Old Testament and imagined a Christianity emancipated from its tyrannical and vindictive deity. This “neo-Marcionism” flourished in the eighteenth century and reverberated in the centuries to follow.

The Institute for Swedenborg Studies at Bryn Athyn College is pleased to welcome you to hear Rebecca K. Esterson talk on the counter impulse of Emanuel Swedenborg, whose embrace of the Hebrew Scriptures also relied on enlightenment themes of emancipation and reason. Her talk will further consider the ways that Swedenborg’s insistence on the loving nature of the God of the Old Testament resisted elements of eighteenth century supersessionism, even if it perpetuated other anti-Jewish tropes from Christian discourses that preceded him, in a striking counterexample to the tropes’s decline in the second half of the eighteenth century.
r-eDr. Rebecca K. Esterson is the Dean of the Center for Swedenborgian Studies and the Dorothea Harvey Professor of Swedenborgian Studies. She teaches in the Department of Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Her areas of teaching and research interests include: Swedenborgian thought and theology, the history of biblical interpretation, hermeneutics, Jewish-Christian relations, eighteenth century intellectual culture, Christian Hebraism, and comparative religious studies. Her book Jewish Allegory in Eighteenth-Century Christian Imagination was published by the Society of Biblical Literature Press in 2023, and she is co-authoring a religious biography of Helen Keller for Eerdmans Publishing.
Watch Video of Lecture

January 22, 4:00 p.m.
College Center at Bryn Athyn College in Bryn Athyn, PA and livestreamed
Featuring Speaker Vincent Roy-Di Piazza

The influence of Emanuel Swedenborg on the early abolitionist movement is well known and largely documented. However, until recently very little scholarship had investigated Swedenborg’s own views about slavery, provided context about his views on African superiority, or even attempted to find if he possibly knew living African individuals.The Institute for Swedenborg Studies at Bryn Athyn College is pleased to welcome you to hear Vincent Roy-Di Piazza talk on his recent discoveries on the subject: we learn that Swedenborg was the first prominent Swede to condemn slavery; we delineate the corpus of his writings on both temporal and spiritual slavery, track the emergence of his beliefs in African superiority, and analyze his statements against colonial intrusion in African lands. In doing so, we find that Swedenborg’s corpus on slavery not only appears much wider and richer than previously acknowledged: we also see that his position creatively drew upon ideals of noble savagery, in a striking counterexample to the tropes’s decline in the second half of the eighteenth century.Refreshments will be served Bryn Athyn's College Center, room 201. This event is free.

About Vincent Roy-Di Piazza

Vincent Roy-Di PiazzaVincent Roy-Di Piazza is a historian of science and religion. He recently obtained his PhD at the University of Oxford, with a dissertation on Swedenborg and the soul-body problem. He is currently a postdoctoral associate at Oxford, a research fellow at the Karolinska Institute, and a lecturer at the University of Stockholm. He has published on various aspects of Swedenborg’s life and thought. Follow his research on social media and/via his website:

Watch Video of Lecture

Featuring Rev. Christopher Barber

March 29, 7:30 p.m.
Doering Center at Bryn Athyn College
2915 Campus Drive, Bryn Athyn, PA

The Institute for Swedenborg Studies at Bryn Athyn College is pleased to invite you to hear Chris Barber speak on his research into the covert society of Swedish pioneers who had to move in secrecy to access and spread what they believed to be a new revelation for a New Church.

Watch Video of Lecture

Location: Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania (optional remote attendance)
Dates: April 23-24, 2022
Schedule: View schedule
Keynote: Jim Lawrence
Registration: Closed (tickets for keynote address available at the door starting at 7:15pm, $10)

This two-day interdisciplinary seminar invites scholars to consider the many prismatic intersections between Emanuel Swedenborg’s paradigm of spirituality and spiritual movements, thought, and applications. Swedenborg’s contribution to spirituality has captured the attention of many important thinkers since his writings first revealed his contact with the spirit world in the late eighteenth century. The concept of spirituality he laid out, at once mystical and profoundly pragmatic, continues to have rippling implications in many fields. Papers will address a variety of topics, including the following:

  • Relationships between spirituality and religion
  • Relationships between spirituality and religious traditions
  • Mystic, devotional, or spiritual practices
  • Interpretive models and practices
  • Relationships between psychological models and the spiritual mind
  • Swedenborg’s metaphysics and physics

Seminar participants may attend in person or remotely.


Those who wish to attend the keynote portion only may do so in person or virtually. Tickets available at the door starting at 7:15 p.m.

Jim Lawrence, A Daily Spiritual Practice Based on Swedenborg’s Rules of Life

Jim LawrenceRev. Dr. Jim Lawrence grew up an every-Sunday kid in a Disciples of Christ church in Houston. During college he majored in developmental economics for impoverished countries due to an overwhelming concern for suffering in the world. It was also during these young adult years that he lost his faith due precisely to the world’s massive misery index. He concluded the universe is heartless and pointless. That perspective changed, however, through a spiritual renewal that opened up a new sense for meaning and purpose. Becoming immersed in the post-Reformation scientist and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg provided one impetus toward interpreting life as meaningful again. His vision shifted toward spiritual renewal as the world’s greatest need, so after rapidly finishing his degree in economics at the University of Texas, he dove into studies at a Disciples of Christ seminary. The “Swedenborg bug,” however, would not go away, and so he committed what many of his colleagues felt was professional suicide by jumping ship to the Swedenborgian seminary in Boston. After graduation and ordination, he found tremendous satisfaction working during the next 17 years in the congregational leadership in three church ministries spanning small town, suburban, and urban settings. During these years he also earned the Doctor of Ministry degree focusing on the performative practice of writing as a communications ministry strategy. To date he has been author, editor, contributor, or publisher of more than 150 bound works and author of dozens of ministry and spirituality articles for the lay public. In 2001 he was called to return to the academy, complete a Ph.D. degree in Christian Spirituality, and become Dean of Convention’s theological school, for which he led the effort to relocate to Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley as the Swedenborgian House of Studies, which in 2015 became a Center of Distinction at the Graduate Theological Union as the Center for Swedenborgian Studies, where he is still Dean. He has remained on the faculty at Pacific School of Religion directing the Doctor of Ministry degree program. He is currently President-Elect of the Swedenborgian Church of North America.


Saturday, April 23, 2021
9:00 am

Session 1
Models of Spirituality

  • Spirituality, Religion, and Swedenborg | Dan Synnestvedt
  • ‘One God’ and the ‘Love of God’: Swedenborg’s influence on Balzac | Saori Osuga
  • A Swedenborgian Theology of Social Justice | Shada Sullivan
10:30 Break
11:00 Session 2
Realms of Spirituality and Science 
  • How is quantum physics really connected to consciousness? | Ian Thompson
  • Swedenborg’s Prism and Goethe’s Theory of Color | Angela Rose
  • Swedenborg, Space Humanities, and Exoplanets | Vincent Roy-Di Piazza 
12:30pm Lunch Break
1:30 Session 3
Concepts of Psychology and Spirituality
  • Learning to Hear Again: James Fowler, Paul Ricoeur, Emanuel Swedenborg, and the Stages of Faith | Ray Silverman
  • Metaphor and Spiritual Meaning | Stephen D. Cole
3:00 Optional Activities*
5:00 Break
6:00 Catered Dinner*
7:30-10:00 Keynote and Reception

Sunday, April 24, 2021

9:00 am - 10:30 Session 4
Swedenborg’s Influence on Thought Movements
  • William Blake and Swedenborg: A Poet-Painter’s Delightful Response to Passages from Heaven and Hell  | Martha Gyllenhaal
  • Structuring Samuel Wilderspin’s Infant School Pedagogy 1823-1825: The Dynamics of Culture and Conformity | Sarah Odhner
  • Math and Metaphysics in an Age of War and Deconstruction: Introducing Prof. Dr. C. H. van Os | Elly Mulder

*Available for in-person attendees only


Questions? Please contact Institute director Thane Glenn,, 267.502.4844