This contribution reflects on the connection between (scientific) cosmology and theology of creation, using the concept of space as an example. Starting from a broad concept of cosmology and referring to the relationship between theology and cosmology in the history of science and theology as well as current systematic positions, the foundations of a dialogue between theology and modern scientific cosmology are developed using the example of the concept of space. In addition, it is argued why theology needs a cosmology and why the interdisciplinary dialogue on cosmology is necessary.
The present contribution is intended as preliminary work for an in-depth comparative study of themes and language patterns that, modified from the Babylonian Enuma Elisch, lead through the Old Testament and Hesiod’s Theogony, to the Book of Revelation. It briefly provides individual examples for a better understanding of the distinction between cosmogony and cosmology in relation to the Bible and its cultural and religious environment.
Cosmology is the universal construction principle of Pauline theology, the key to Pauline thinking, because only from there can the individual basic assumptions meaningfully be assigned to one another. Embedded in a cosmological framework with two conflicting principles (sin as a negative principle and the Christ event as a positive principle), Paul unfolds the presence of salvation in the light of its future. Because neither the power of sin nor the life power of the Christ event in its present and future nature (parousia) can be derived from within the world, it is a matter of a cosmological event. It transcends human understanding and human experience, cannot be domesticated anthropologically, and describes a transformation process that determines both the fate of the world as a whole and the destiny of the individual and the entire community. This process begins with the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, takes place in the participation of the baptized believers in the reality of spirit and creation, and culminates in the universal transformation of the world by the one God.
What are the environmental ethical implications of Rom 8,19–22(.23) and what relationships between the doctrine of creation, anthropology, soteriology, and eschatology are implied in it? The answer to this question varies widely in the exegetical work of Robert Jewett and Michael Wolter. By analyzing and reflecting on the methods of Jewett’s and Wolter’s exegetical works, this contribution shows that the reasons for the different exegetical results lie in divergent presuppositions and the different hermeneutic of reference texts. This raises the pointed question of what relevance the individual text has for its specific exegesis, or to what extent it is merely interpreted by pre-existing presuppositions that are not themselves explicitly reflected in the exegetical literature.
This contribution draws attention to the concept of time as perceived in the New Testament view of “two ages,” or eons. It shows that different dates are not neutral but are the result of an ideology or time politics. Different forms of time structuring in the sources can thus be read as an expression of a negotiation or a struggle between different worldviews and ideologies. Attention is drawn to the historical Jesus and to the understanding of the concept of the “two ages” and worldview in the message of the historical Jesus. The notion of two ages structurally draws a sharper line between this world, time and history, and the transcendent and future realm, and it has taken a special dynamic in somewhat later Jewish texts that propose a more universal view of history and that may reflect the great catastrophes of the first and second century in the history of the Jewish people that lingered in the future in Jesus’ time.
The Letter to the Ephesians emphasizes the cosmic significance of Jesus Christ by placing the reconciliation through his death on the cross in the horizon of God’s universal plan of salvation for the world. With his resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God, God has given him power over all rule and authority. In the future, Christ will unite the universe under his rule, thus restoring the divine salvific order over the cosmos. In the present, Christ fills and permeates the universe and is the Lord over all powers and authorities. At the end of time, he will finally fully assert his dominion over the universe. The church has a derived cosmic meaning, insofar as in it the former enemies – Jews and Gentiles – are reconciled with God and with each other through Christ. In that the saving and blessing powers of Christ are active in it through the Holy Spirit, it represents his fullness as the body of Christ and is the anticipation of the reconciled cosmos. Through its mission, the church continues the mission of Christ, represents Jesus Christ in the world, and lets people gain a share in the fullness of Christ.
In his work, the apocalyptist develops the concept of a dualistic cosmology: the existing κόσµος shaped by the Roman Empire and its leading representatives is coming to an end. Soon it will be replaced by a new κόσµος, in which a new sphere of salvation and a new time of salvation will be prepared for the faithful Christians, which differ diametrically from the present cosmological reality as the actually worthwhile goal of the Christian’s own life of faith. With this conception, the cosmology of the fourth gospel, which is shaped by the idea of a coexistence of light and darkness, of salvation and disaster, is expanded by the aspect of a futuric-eschatological soteriological completion of the κόσµος realizing itself in a new creation, i.e., temporalized and thus ultimately eschatologically completed.