Original Research

Paul’s call to be a holy man (apostle): In his own words and in other words

John J. Pilch
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 61, No 1/2 | a434 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v61i1/2.434 | © 2005 John J. Pilch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 October 2005 | Published: 09 October 2005

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John J. Pilch, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This brief survey and analysis of the statements made by Paul about his experience of God calling him to be an apostle in Galatians 1:15-16; 1 Corinth 15:8-9; 2 Corinth 4:6; and Philippians 3:12 were chiefly conducted from an intentionally limited social science perspective. The article argues that the investigator can gain deeper insights into Paul’s statements “in his own words” by submitting them to a social scientific analysis especially drawing upon psychological anthropology and cognitive neuroscience. These social sciences demonstrate that Paul’s call was received in an altered state of consciousness experience. As with all such experiences, Paul drew upon the latent discourse of his culture to interpret his vision. It was God’s intent and initiative to relate to Paul (Galatians) in an ASC. Paul considered his call experience and commission to be on par with experiences of the Risen Jesus by others (1 Corinthians). Paul also drew upon the full meaning of light imagery in his tradition (his culture’s latent discourse) to interpret his call (2 Corinthians). Finally, he was fully aware that his experience took place in an altered state of consciousness (Philippians) which was a well-known and familiar experience in his culture.


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