(See previous Best Things here.) This week’s Best Thing might not be particularly relevant for anyone with only a passing interest in Swedenborg, but for anyone wanting to dig deeper into New Church interpretation of Scripture, it’s indispensable.
The Kempton Project: What is it?
The Kempton Project itself is an effort to create a faithful translation of the Old and New Testaments guided by New Church doctrinal principles. The New Church has a fairly unusual position on Scripture: we believe that every word is directly inspired by God to contain a deeper meaning, but that the literal meaning is not intended to be factually correct in every place. (This puts us at odds with pretty much everyone else on the conservative-liberal spectrum.) As much as possible (and given the limits of translation, it isn’t always), the Kempton translation attempts to maintain word-for-word, consistent translation, going so far as to maintain “thee” and “thou” for singular (you, a single person) vs. “you” for plural (you all). The goal is the allow the deeper sense of Scripture as expounded in the Doctrine of the New Church to shine through. From their main page:
Why a New Church translation is important
A New Church translation should provide a means by which the internal sense can shine through the letter in its glory. For example, the Writings tell us of the importance of the marriage of good and truth which is reflected in the language of the Word through repetition (“Treasure up for yourselves treasures” Matt. 6:19), singulars and plurals (“when thou prayest … when you pray” Matt. 6:6,7), and pairs of words signifying good and truth (“joy and gladness” Is. 51:3).
I love the Kempton translation. Because it tries to emulate the Hebrew and Greek syntax when possible, it is not always the easiest translation to follow, but the effort is worth it, and it’s great for study and personal reading.
But as valuable as it is, the translation is not the reason I most often find myself at the Kempton Project website. The functionality of the site that I find indispensable is its Scripture study feature, which makes it remarkably easy to find all the direct references from New Church Doctrine to any given Old or New Testament Scripture passage.
The Best Feature: All the Scripture references at your fingertips
When you visit kemptonproject.org, on the right side of the page you will see a box that looks like this:
If you select a passage and click the Study button, it will take you to a screen that looks something like this:
On the left is the text from the chapter in the Old or New Testament you have chosen. In the middle is a list of all the passages from the Doctrine of the New Church that refer to that chapter. And on the right is the text from the Doctrine. If you click on a verse from the Scripture on the left, the center column will change to list only passages that refer to that particular verse. It’s simple, straightforward, and incredibly valuable for anyone looking for New Church exegesis.
There is a LOT more to the Kempton Project website than what I’ve listed here (e.g. a section I didn’t notice for years where you can change the viewing options ). But the basic message is this: for those who are looking for a way to dive into New Church interpretation of Scripture, the Kempton Project is the very best place to start.
(Image by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble). This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble). Email the author: David R. Tribble. Also see his personal gallery at Google Picasa – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link)