Emanuel Swedenborg

Family Background

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Ancestors endowed this eminent Swede with multiple talents which determined the course and tenor of his life. On his mother's side Swedenborg's relatives had long been prominent in the mining industry; his father was a devout clergyman of intelligence and zeal. Into such a household, marked by a harmonious blending of the secular and the sacred, Emanuel was born on the 29th of January, 1688, in the city of Stockholm. Sara Behm, his mother, died when he was eight years old, but her quiet, benevolent spirit molded the character of her third child and second son. Six other children were born to Jesper and Sara Swedberg before her untimely death in 1696.

His father, professor of theology at the University of Uppsala and dean of the cathedral, later became Bishop of Skara. This post included elevation to the rank of nobleman by Queen Ulrika Eleonora. One result of this honor was the change of the family name from Swedberg to Swedenborg. The Bishop also served as chaplain to the royal family and thus had an entrée into the highest social and political circles of Sweden. From birth young Swedenborg experienced a family atmosphere characterized by reverence and even religious fervor. The Bishop's children, for the most part, were given scriptural names, to remind them of their duty to God and the church. Emanuel means "God with us" and Swedenborg's early years suited this theme. The family often discussed religious questions at dinner and other gatherings, and the young boy had opportunities to exchange ideas on faith and life with many clergymen. Years later Swedenborg recalled the influence of this early exposure when he wrote: "I was constantly engaged in thought upon God, salvation, and the spiritual sufferings of men . . ."


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Text from: THE ESSENTIAL SWEDENBORG
- by Sig Synnestvedt

Copyright - 1977 by Swedenborg Foundation, Inc.
All Rights Reserved - Printed in the United States of America

HTML by: timlig@pacbell.net - May 1995