This contribution reflects on cosmology in 1 John and its implication for engaging with Social Identity Complexity Theory (SICT). Following Jan G. Van der Watt, Jacobus Kok defines cosmology as,
the total dynamic mental picture (which includes any references to origin, functioning, order, nature, structural interaction and final destination) of the universe (not only the created world), including both the physical and transcendental realities as they are described in these letters.
Each occurrence of the word “cosmos” in 1 John is studied and the author draws inter alia on semantics and metaphor theory to investigate how 1 John conceived of the cosmos. The final section reflects on the implication of these findings for the complexity of social identity in 1 John.
In Rom 8,19–22 Paul emphasises the close connection between all of creation and the fate of Christ-believers, both now in their suffering, but also in their eventual redemption. After a brief discussion of Paul’s assertion, this contribution studies the Old Testament and early Jewish background of this close connection between the fate of human and non-human creation. Against this backdrop, the study suggests that the same connection between human salvation and the redemption of non-human creation also applies to Paul’s reference to the coming deliverer in Rom 11,26–27. Based on the Jewish background and the context of Romans, the salvation of all Israel also includes the delivery of non-human creation from its present state of suffering and will usher in the Messianic reign of peace. This eschatological promise for all of creation constitutes an essential element of Christian cosmology and demands that humans act responsibly toward a creation which has the promise of eschatological redemption.
The cosmology of Hebrews is inconceivable without, and certainly cannot be separated from, both Christology and eschatology. Whether it is structured in a more apocalyptical than teleological sense remains an open question. In other words, whether the author’s presentation represents more of a parallel-vertical (dualizing) worldview, than a linear-horizontal (aeonic) worldview, which arrives at a particular point in time in the eschaton, remains also unclear. It is evident, however, that the cosmology of this book is particularly strongly influenced by perception of the ontology of God and that it is being situated within the history of salvation. What is striking is the centrality of the cosmos as a cultic creation. The sanctuary is presented as a sacred space and dwelling place of God, over which Christ was called as the Son and into which Christ as High Priest sacrifices himself. The boundaries between a future theological ideal and a present reality are blurred. An apocalyptic vision has already become reality for the author. The cosmology of the Book of Hebrews presents itself more like a present realised than a futuristic eschatology.