Constructing The World: An Exegetical And Socio-Rhetorical Analysis Of Paul’s Uses Of ‘World’ And ‘Creation’ -- By: Edward Adams

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 46:2 (NA 1995)
Article: Constructing The World: An Exegetical And Socio-Rhetorical Analysis Of Paul’s Uses Of ‘World’ And ‘Creation’
Author: Edward Adams


Constructing The World:
An Exegetical And Socio-Rhetorical Analysis Of Paul’s Uses Of ‘World’ And ‘Creation’1

Edward Adams

The recent application of sociological perspectives to the study of the New Testament has generated interest in the construction and maintenance of social worlds in early Christianity. The theoretical model which provides the paradigm for this line of inquiry is derived from the work of T. Luckmann and P.O. Berger in the sociology of knowledge. This study attempts to elucidate and refine our understanding of the phenomenon of world-construction in Pauline Christianity by exploring the roles of the words ‘world’ (κόσμος) and ‘creation (κτίσις), which are Paul’s main terms in this process.

The investigation falls under the rubric of New Testament ‘wordy-study’. Yet it differs in concern from the more conventional forms of such study in that its main aim is to uncover the intended social functions of Paul’s various uses of κόσμος and κτίσις in the different communities addressed.

Chapter 1 reviews the main trends in the interpretation of these terms, drawing particular attention to the influential treatment by R. Bultmann, and sets out the method adopted in this dissertation. Previous approaches to this terminology in Paul, especially κόσμος, have been overly concerned with formulating unifying theological definitions of the words, smoothing out important if subtle differences in the Pauline usage in the process. The question of how far social and rhetorical factors might have affected the diversity of usage has largely gone unasked. This neglected issue becomes the primary focus

of interest. The broad theoretical base undergirding the study, that of ‘critical linguistics’, is then set out. This perspective is shown to provide a more precise and nuanced understanding of the role of language in the construal of reality than the account given by Berger and Luckmann. After highlighting the potential pitfalls of New Testament ‘word-study’ and explaining how the investigation attempts to avoid them, the importance of contextual analysis of specific word-uses is stressed. A sharper profile is then drawn for this particular style of approach to Paul’s cosmological terminology which, broadly stated, is to interpret Paul’s various statements on κόσμος and κτίσις in terms of the social situations within which they are employed, in the context of...

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