Narrative and Ontology is also discussing worldview. I thought I would repost this old post in case its any use to anyone doing work on worldview.
I started a paper a few months back which sought to offer a worldview reading of Galatians. Here is the first part of if. I have added the rest of it as a PDF file. See the link at the bottom of the page.
It still needs a conclusion….
It essentially takes N.T. Wright’s worldview model and seeks to read Galatians in a way so that the Pauline worlview can be sketched out.
Galatians and the Pauline Worldview
Historiography, Hermeneutics and Worldview
Interpreting Galatians, like any other ancient text, is far from simple for the chasm which stands between the interpreter and the original author is immense—this immensity being created by the differences to be found in historical location, culture, language and rhetorical conventions between the Pauline interpreter and Paul himself.
This hermeneutical challenge, which exists in all forms of communication, is in one sense minimised or bypassed by the ‘naïve’/modernist reader who think that simply by a close reading of the text the intended meaning of the author simply appears when the tools of realism, objectivity and empiricism are vigorously and methodologically applied.1
On the other hand the post-modern Pauline adventurer may simply see the chasm as being insurmountable as the historical tools of modernism are viewed as the worthless and arrogant product of an enlightenment epistemology. A post-modern adventure for Pauline studies may be described as a move from asking‘What did Paul mean?’ to ‘What does the text do and mean for my community?’, thus resulting in a shift away from ‘objectivity’ to the ‘subjective’ approach of multiple possible meanings.2
In contrast to both a modern and post-modern historiography I intend to sketch out and use a ‘Worldview Hermeneutic’ as a methodology to interpret Galatians and begin to construct ‘a’ Pauline theology. This worldview hermeneutic, as discussed in a previous essay3, relies heavily on the methodology of N.T Wright but seeks to apply this to one book within the Pauline Corpus. Before setting out on a worldview approach to Galatians it is necessary to sketch out, in broad strokes, the basic structure of a worldview.
In recent decades there has been a steady rise in the use of worldview (Weltanschauung) which is seen not only across the academic community at large but also within the church, at both a popular and academic level, in its development of evangelism, mission, bible translation, ethical theory. The use of worldviews is so pervasive owing to the fact that it seeks not to offer a theoretical construct aimed at one area of life, instead it provides a interpretative framework which can be applied to all fields and spheres of human interpretation and existence.
A worldview (or vision of life) is a framework or set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it. This vision need not be fully articulated….this vision is a channel for the ultimate beliefs which give direction and meaning to life. It is the integrative and interpretative framework by which order and disorder are judged; it is the standard by which reality is managed and pursued; it is the set of hinges on which all our everyday thinking and doing turns.4
Any worldview, whether ancient or modern , according to N.T. Wright, contains four basic interrelated components5;
1) Stories: Worldviews ‘provide the stories [grand narratives] through which human beings view reality’.
2) Questions: These grand narratives provide answers to the basic worldview questions. Who are we? Where are we? What is wrong? What is the solution?6
3) Symbols: Stories express themselves in cultural symbols, whether that be the symbol of the ‘credit card’ expressing the consumerist meta-narrative, or the ‘eagle’ expressing the grand narrative of Roman imperialism.
4) Praxis: Stories, Symbols and the answers to basic worldview questions provide a ‘way-of-being-in-the-world’, the stories which people indwell and the symbols which they cherish provide a call to action, whether that be the praxis of a terrorist ideology or the outworking of a nihilist mindset.
I intend in this essay to explore, within Galatians the role of story, symbol and praxis within the Pauline worldview.
Worldview Shift and the Damascus Road
“And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,…” Galatians 1:14-16
The events on the Damascus road undoubtedly had a major significance for the Apostle Paul. Once he was ‘advancing in ιουδαισμω Judaism ’ (1:14) but now he sees himself, in some sense, as separate from Judaism (1:13)7. The events of Damascus road have been variously described as conversion—from one religion to another—or by others as calling or commissioning8 which reflect his call to preach the gospel to the gentiles.
I propose that the Damascus event is best seen as a ‘Worldview Shift’. By using the word ‘worldview’ I intend to highlight that this is not simply a ‘religious event’ as the word ‘conversion’ in popular usage suggests, nor does the notion of ‘commissioning’ do full justice to the change in the entire outlook of Paul, a change that, as we shall see, provides an alternative to the story, symbol and praxis of Saul the Pharisee. I use the word ‘shift’ as opposed to ‘change’ to highlight, an obvious although important point, that Paul’s post Damascus worldview is still essentially Judaic through and through, but a modified form.9 By using the word ‘shift’ I mean that Paul’s worldview after Damascus has not changed completely but has shifted from what it once was, the worldview, in my opinion, has been modified.
1 For further discussion see Wright, The New Testament and the People of God Chapter 2-3
2 The phrase ‘Postmodern adventure’ I have taken from the influential essay by Clines A Postmodern Adventure in Biblical Studies: The Pyramid and the Net:
4 As cited in Naugle Worldview 349, likewise N.T. Wright “Worldviews are thus the basic stuff of human existence, the lens through which the world is seen, the blueprint of how one should live in it, and above all the sense of identity and place which enables human beings to be what they are. To ignore worldviews, either our own or those of the culture we are studying, would result in extraordinary shallowness.” New Testament and the People of God 124
5 For a full discussion see Wright New Testament and the People of God esp pp 122-126
7 Ἰουδαΐσμός is used within Maccabees to differentiate between the way of life of Seleucid Hellenism and the Jewish religion (2 Macc 2:21, 8:1, 14:38, 4 Macc 4:26) becoming a term of honour amongst the Jews. See Longenecker Galatians
8 As with Stendahl “There is not—as we usually think—first a conversion, and then a call to apostleship; there is only the call to the work among the Gentiles” Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West
9 N.T Wright helpfully shows the similarities and differences between the Judaic and Pauline worldview in his frequent refrain of triad of covenant, monotheism and election. See Fresh Perspectives Wright
The full draft text is available by usign the following link.