Ukraine in a symbolic "biblical world": historical lessons and perspectives




Bible, Biblical World, Bible Studies, Europe, European Civilization, Ukraine


The article analyzes the cultural and civilizational consequences of a long experience of Ukrainians' perception of the biblical picture of the world and the corresponding principles of its development. The author's reasoning is based on the thesis that the very acquisition of the Bible as a sacred text created the space of a common language - the language of values and the language of symbols. The present "European world", even as a globalized phenomenon, has historically emerged as the embodiment of an ideal, symbolic "biblical world". In turn, the over-millennial affiliation of Christianized Ukraine to the "biblical world" has become an extremely important symbolic marker and cultural and ideological factor of civilization.

Adopting the principle of biblical historicism coupled with the idea of biblical history as a universal, universal Holy History of Salvation, our ancestors, along with other Christianized peoples, were given the chance to see themselves as full participants in world historical drama. The same universal principle led to the formation of a new model of interpersonal communication - communication, which united families and tribes in nations, and nations into international unity. We still know this unity as Europe - either staying in it or seeking to rebuild and strengthen its ties with it. And, despite the fact that this unity always seemed to be a political, cultural, civilizational unity, it was basically a spiritual and mental unity. The “biblical world”, as a center of norms and symbols, was embodied in the various social and cultural forms of the great Europe.

The author outlines a panorama of common cultural ideas and values that have been learned by our ancestors over a thousand years ago, the source of which is the biblical worldview. In particular, the idea (and at the same time the value) of indisputable and unceasing progress is analyzed — as the idea of historical progress in the development of each individual, each local society, as well as humanity as a whole. It is shown that the possibility of such progress is justified by the affirmation of the value of personal creative effort in the transformation of the world — an effort that involves creativity and initiative. The basis for the creative world transformation for the human development is the value of rational (including scientific) knowledge of the world.

However, it has been shown that the ideas of progressism, personal creative activism, rationalism and pragmatism in the European mentality are substantially counterbalanced by several important values, which are also of biblical origin. In this context, the idea of personal and collective responsibility for what humans is being done in the world is emphasized. This value — as the maxim of socially significant behavior — in our culture is a powerful safeguard for personal or group selfishness and particularism.These values can be realized in a system of constantly updating communities. Community, communication is the basis of a a fulfilling personal and collective life, both religious and secular.

On the concrete examples of the analysis of the reception of the European biblical experience by the figures of the Kiev theological tradition of the late XIX - early XX centuries, the author demonstrates the perception by the Kiev authors of this period of polyphonic unity of the European world, the normative and symbolic core of which was the Bible. The author reasonably argues that by comparing the foreign experience of mastering and applying the Bible with the domestic, "home" situation, Kiev theologian researchers objectively strengthened the idea of a universal "biblical world". The "biblical world" - as the unity of the spiritual-symbolic and ethno-geographical principles, is, to put it now, the "geopolitical phenomenon" - has been globalized and modernized. As a result, there were also challenges to Ukrainian culture and society. These challenges remain relevant every time we attempt modern Ukrainian state and national-cultural construction.

The author's current conclusion is that even now our self-awareness as Europeans, as full members of the global community of nations, requires us to read the Bible as a source of meaning shared with the rest of the world, with the experience of other nations.


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