The 'literal sense' is a real mindset, much older than has been recognized....it is somewhat casually
described by Emanuel Swedenborg in the paragraph numbered coincidentally as 1984 (!!!!!!)
in his Arcana Celestia.. The 'literal sense' itself was unknown to me in 1984.
Arcana Coelestia (Potts) n. 1984
1984. Chapter 17 Few persons can bring themselves to believe that the Word has within it an
internal sense that from the letter is not apparent, because it is so remote from the sense of
the letter that it is as it were distant from it as heaven is from earth. But that the sense of the
letter contains such things within itself, and that it is representative and significative of arcana
that no one sees except the Lord, and angels from Him, is evident from what has been stated
in various places in the first Part of this work. The sense of the letter bears a relation to the
internal sense like that of the human body to the soul. While a man is in the body, and thinks
from bodily things, he knows almost nothing about the soul; for the functions of the body are
different from those of the soul, so different that if the functions of the soul were disclosed,
they would not be acknowledged as such. The case is the same with the internals of the
Word: its soul, that is, its life, is in its internals, and these have regard solely to the Lord, His
kingdom, the church, and to those things in man that belong to His kingdom and church; and
when these are regarded, it is the Word of the Lord, for in this case there is life itself therein.
That this is really the case has been confirmed by many things in the first Part, and has been
given me to know as a certainty; for no ideas concerning bodily and worldly things can by any
possibility pass to the angels, but they are put off and altogether removed at the first
threshold, as they leave man; as may be seen in the first Part, from experience itself (n.
17691772 inclusive), and also how they are changed (n. 18721876).  This may also be
sufficiently evident from very many things in the Word that are not at all intelligible in the
sense of the letter, and that would not be acknowledged as the Word of the Lord if there were
not such a soul and life in them; nor would they appear as Divine to anyone who has not been
imbued from infancy with the belief that the Word is inspired and thereby holy. Who would
know from the sense of the letter what those things signify which Jacob spoke to his sons
just before his death (Gen. 49):
That Dan shall be a serpent upon the way, an adder upon the path, biting the horse's heels,
and his rider shall fall backward (verse 17); that a troop shall ravage Gad, and he shall ravage
the heel (verse 19); that Naphtali is a hind let loose, giving discourses of elegance (verse 21);
that Judah shall bind his young ass to the vine, and the son of his sheass to the noble vine;
he shall wash his garment in wine, and his vesture in the blood of grapes; his eyes are redder
than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk (Gen. 49:1112);
and the case is the same with very many passages in the Prophets.
But what these
signify cannot possibly appear except in the internal sense, in which all things
both in general
and in particular are coherent in the most beauty order.
 The case is the
same again with
all that the Lord said concerning the last times:
In the consummation of the age, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her
light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken;
and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man, and then shall all the tribes of the earth wail
(Matt. 24:2930). These words by no means signify the darkening of the sun and moon, nor
the falling of the stars from heaven, nor the wailing of the tribes; but they signify charity and
faith, for in the internal sense these are "the sun and the moon," and these will be darkened;
and they also signify the knowledges of good and truth, for these are "the stars," which are
here called "the powers of the heavens," and which will thus fall down and vanish; and that so
also will all things of faith, which are "the tribes of the earth." This was shown also in Part
First (n. 31, 32, 1053, 15291531, 1808). From these few things the nature of the internal
sense of the Word may be seen, and also that it is remote, and in some places very remote,
from the sense of the letter. But still the sense of the letter represents truths; and sets forth
appearances of truth, in which a man can be when not in the light of truth.
Another translation of the same paragraph:
Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1984
1984. Few can believe that within the Word there is an internal sense which does not show
itself at all in the letter. They cannot do so because it is as remote from the sense of the letter
as so to speak heaven from earth. But it is clear from what has been stated in various places
in Volume One that the sense of the letter contains such things within itself, and represents
and means arcana which nobody sees except the Lord and the angels, who see them from
Him. The relationship of the sense of the letter to the internal sense is like that of man's body
to his soul. While a person is in the body and thinks from bodily things he knows hardly
anything of the soul, for the body's functions are different from those of the soul, so different
that if the soul's functions were disclosed they would not be acknowledged as such. It is
similar with the inward part of the Word. Present there is its soul, that is, its life; and that
inward part has no regard to anything except the Lord, His Kingdom, the Church, and those
things with man which belong to His Kingdom and Church. And when the regard is to these it
is the Word of the Lord, for in that case they have life itself within them. That this is how it is
with the Word has been confirmed extensively in Volume One, and is something which I have
been allowed to have definite knowledge of. For no ideas concerning bodily and worldly things
can possibly come across to angels, but are cast aside and totally removed at the threshold
while leaving man, as may be seen from experience itself presented in Volume One,
17691772 inclusive; and how they are altered, in 18721876.
 This is also quite clear from very many statements in the Word which are by no means
intelligible in the sense of the letter, and which, if they did not possess that soul or life within
them, would not be acknowledged to be the Word of the Lord. Nor would they be seen to be
Divine to anyone who has not been trained from infancy to believe that the Word is inspired
and so is holy. Who from the sense of the letter would know of the meaning of those
statements in Genesis 49 which Jacob made to his sons before he died?
Dan will be a serpent on the road, an asp on the path, biting the horse's heels, and its rider
will fall backwards. Verse 17.
A troop will plunder Gad, and he will plunder the heel. Verse 19.
Naphtali is a hind let loose, giving beautiful words. Verse 21.
Judah will bind to the vine his ass's foal and to the choice vine his sheass's colt. He will
wash his garment in wine and his clothing in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be redder than
wine, and his teeth whiter than milk. Verses 11, 12.
Very many places in the Prophets contain similar statements. But what these words mean is
not at all evident except in the internal sense in which every single detail links together in a
very lovely order.
 What the Lord declared in Matthew about the last times is similar,
At the close of the age the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the
stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of
the Son of Man will appear, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn. Matt. 24:29, 30.
These words do not mean at all the darkening of the sun and the moon, or the falling of the
stars from the sky, or the mourning of tribes. Instead they mean that charity and faith sun
and moon in the internal sense are going to be darkened in this fashion. They mean that the
cognitions of good and truth 'the stars' which are here called 'the powers of the heavens'
are going to fall away and disappear. And they mean all things of faith, which are 'the tribes of
the earth', as has also been shown in Volume One, in 31, 32, 1053, 15291531,1808.
These few observations now show what the internal sense of the Word is and also that it is
remote, in some places very remote, from the sense of the letter. Yet be that as it may, the
sense of the letter represents truths, and also sets forth appearances of truth for a person to
see by when he does not see by the light of truth.
1 And Abram was a son of ninetynine years, and Jehovah appeared to Abram and said to
him, I am God Shaddai; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant
between Me and you, and I will multiply you more and more. 3 And Abram fell on his face,*
and God spoke to him, saying, 4 As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be
the father of a multitude of nations. 5 And no longer will your name be called Abram, but your
name will be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 And I will
make you more and more fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come out of
you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you
throughout their generations for an eternal covenant, to be God to you and to your seed after
you. 8 And I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land of your sojournings, all the
land of Canaan, for an eternal possession; and I will be their God. 9 And God said to
Abraham, And you shall keep My covenant, you and your seed after you throughout their
generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep between Me and you, and your
seed after you: Every male among you is to be circumcised. 11 And you shall circumcise the
flesh of your foreskin, and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 And a son
eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he
who is born in the house, and he who is the purchase of silver, from every son who is a
foreigner and not of your seed. 13 He must be circumcised** who is born in your house or
who is the purchase of your silver; and My covenant shall be in your flesh as an eternal
covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin,
that soul will be cut off from his peoples; he has broken My covenant. 15 And God said to
Abraham, Sarai your wife you will not call by her name Sarai, for Sarah will be her name. 16
And I will bless her, and I will also give you a son by her. And I will bless him, and he will
become nations; kings of peoples will be from her. 17 And Abraham fell on his face* and
laughed, and said in his heart, Will one be born to a son of a hundred years? And will Sarah, a
daughter of ninety years, give birth? 18 And Abraham said to God, O that Ishmael might live
before You! 19 And God said, Truly Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will
call his name Isaac. And I will establish My covenant with him as an eternal covenant, for his
seed after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I will bless him and I will
make him fruitful and I will multiply him more and more Twelve princes will he beget, and I will
make him into a great nation. 21 And I will establish My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will
bear to you at the set time next year. 22 And He finished speaking to him, and God went up
from over Abraham. 23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all born in his house, and
every one purchased with his silver, every male among the men (vir) of Abraham's house,
and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskin on that same day, just as God had spoken to
him. 24 And Abraham was a son of ninetynine years when he was circumcised in the flesh
of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was a son of thirteen years when he was circumcised
in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 On that very day Abraham was circumcised, and Ishmael his
son. 27 And all the men of his house, he that was born in the house and he who was the
purchase of silver, from the son who is a foreigner, were circumcised together with him. * lit.
faces ** lit. By being circumcised he shall be circumcised