Why Only Genesis, Exodus, Revelation?
by Donald L. Rose
I have occasionally been asked why only three of the thirty-four books of the Word are taken up in the expository works of the Writings. I write, not only to mention a few simple aspects of the answer to this question, but also to call attention to some facts not usually known by those who ask it. These facts, to be found at the end of this letter, should prove interesting and even surprising to some readers.
Of the several purposes of the Writings, one is to disclose the spiritual sense of the Word (TCR 846; Inv. 44). It is quite true that this might have been done in greater volume. It is also true that the other purposes of the Writings might have been accomplished in greater volume. Take, for example, the revelation concerning love truly conjugial (TCR 847). Here we have deliberate condensation to avoid a great volume which would tire the reader. (See CL 209.)
The Gospel account of the Lord's life is quite sufficient, even though, as the final verse of the fourth Gospel states, numberless additional volumes might have been composed. 518 "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 21: 25).
The simplest answer to our question is, of course, that the exposition we do have in the Writings is sufficient. Consider the occasion when the Lord expounded from all the Scriptures. "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets. He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24: 27). A verse by verse exposition would not have been given during the conversation on the walk to Emmaus. Enough from all the Scriptures must have been given to suffice. It is the same in the Writings. In this connection consider especially the first four paragraphs in Doctrine of the Lord. In no. 53 of the same work we have a sheet full of references to Jeremiah as an' example of all the prophets. In no. 85 of Sacred Scripture a sampling of quotations is given, but whole sheets of additional passages would be "too prolix." After one series of references to the Psalms it is noted that more passages could be cited: "But they are omitted because of their number; those already referred to are sufficient" (AE 326e). Let the interested reader reflect on such other passages as AC 1486, 10832; AE 587: 7.
It is observed that in the Writings we have verse by verse exposition of the books of Genesis, Exodus and the Apocalypse, and it is certainly significant that this should be true of the first and the last of the series of books in the Word. But we should not get the idea that the disclosure of the spiritual sense is a task unfinished; we should not get the idea that three books are exhausted and the others neglected.
The Arcana Coelestia is a complete work. If we say that the exposition might have been extended through the other books of the Word, might we not also say that the exposition of Genesis and Exodus could be greatly extended? Of three distinct series of the internal sense, (see AC 4279) the Arcana follows only one at a time. A given part of Genesis or Exodus is explained according to a single series. If exposition of each part were extended to the different series the work would be greatly enlarged. "But" we are told, "to extend the explication to all these would make it too tedious" (AC 1965). Actually, as we reflect on the nature of the Word, as shown in TCR 290, we see that if all of the internal sense should be written down, the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
The Arcana Coelestia is by no means confined to the books of Genesis
and Exodus. Indeed there are references in it to every one of the thirty-four
books of the Word. This brings us to the interesting facts to which I would like
to call attention. 519
The Writings refer to each of the one hundred and eleven chapters in the New Testament Word, and to all but eight of the seven hundred and thirty-four chapters in the Old Testament Word. The exceptions are:
Other observations: Apocalypse Explained refers to all the chapters in the New Testament Word; Apocalypse Revealed to all but Luke 15; Trite Christian Religion to all but Mark 5. The relatively small work, Doctrine of the Lord, refers to ninety-two of the chapters in the New Testament Word, and to two hundred and five of the two hundred and fifty chapters of the prophets. Doctrine of Life, a considerably shorter work, refers to more than half the chapters in the New Testament Word. Apocalypse Revealed refers to all but seven of the Psalms, and to all but twelve of the chapters of the prophets.
These things should be helpful to those who ask: Why only Genesis, Exodus and the Apocalypse?