Have you ever wondered why the Bible uses the word “kosmos” to express what we call “world“?
Well, maybe the more exciting way to pose the question is to look at what we use today’s word “kosmos” for. It is used to name the universe. Dah.
But then there is “cosmetics.” What does it mean? Is it what women use to mean the world to us men, or maybe even to mean the world to themselves–kind of a self-esteem booster?
This may be why women use cosmetics, but it’s not what the word means.
Cosmetics are a way to present life, an add-on layer. Kosmos, therefore, can mean the cultural layer, the system we added to the world, the way we see the world.
This has implications. Most people acknowledge that the New Testament means three different things when it uses the word “kosmos“: the earth, the people on the planet, and the world’s culture.
Let us focus on the last one for now. Federico Campagna defines it like this:
My starting point is that a “world,” a cosmos, is not a “natural” thing, but it is a “likely story” about reality. Humans, like all creatures, are endowed with limited cognitive abilities. To live, we have to simplify the avalanche of raw perceptions that invest us at any moment and to transform it into the simple and meaningful narration of a “world,” which we can recognize and navigate.
When we say “world,” we don’t indicate an autonomous reality. The world is an artificial construct of the imagination, and we can engage with our continuous activity of worldbuilding in many alternative ways.
This correlates with the notion of culture. Culture combines how we see the world and what we make of it.
The way we humans look at the world has changed significantly over time. At some point, we became settlers and then started to build cities. We started to organize our life using laws. Lately, we have undergone four industrial revolutions, to name a few earth-shattering changes in our past.
And earth-shattering is the correct nomenclature. Each time, our world, our way of interpreting reality, our story collapsed and had to be rebirthed and redesigned, reinvented and rediscovered.
We have all experienced such transitions personally. Think of your first days in kindergarten, at work, puberty, and adolescence.
To summarize, both humanity and the individual have experienced many worlds ending.
What if Revelation describes these endings of worlds instead of the end of this world? Can I ask you to read it again with this lens?
It would certainly refocus our attention on the here and now.
I keep this one short and sweet because I want you to think. What are your thoughts?