Doctoral Degree in Scriptures – Sr. Paulcy
The faculty of Theology at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy, theology & Canon Law has declared the Doctoral degree for Sr. Paulcy Thelakkadan for her Dissertation on “I live, not I, It is christ Who lives in Me (Gal 2:20): A Study on Paul’s christ Experience from a Yogic Perspective” on 17th December 2015 in the Multimedia Hall DVK Central Library. The community of Guru Yesu Bhavan along with Large number of professors and research Scholars were present on the occasion Witnessed it with great joy. Provincial Superior Sr. Rose Mary Muthasseril expressed her gratitude on behalf of Indian Province and Congratulated Sr. Paulcy Thelakkadan for her successful Completion. PH.D Guide Prof. Dr. Joseph Pathrapankal, CMI and Dr. Joy Philip Kakkanattu, CMI Dean, Faculty of Theology Appreciated her for the original contribution to Indian Church which live and experience
Paul’s personal experience of Jesus was a mystical experience of personal union with Christ, which can be characterized in the Indian spiritual terminology Yoga, which originally and etymologically means union. With this in view I have titled my dissertation as I live, Not I; it is Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20): A Study on Paul’s Christ Experience from a Yogic Perspective.
The late Pope St. John Paul II invited in his Encyclical Fides et Ratio (1988) the Indian theologians to take up the challenge of articulating biblical and theological concepts giving due respect to Indian thought patterns. Responding to this invitation, the present study attempts to interpret the Christ experience of Paul from a Yogic perspective. This work tries to analyse the mystical relationship of Paul to Christ from the perspective of a mystical union against the background of the Indian religious literature Bhāgavadgitā. The basic and fundamental meaning and goal of Yoga is union. A true yogi is one who has deep faith in God. For a yogi, religion is not limited to a mere system of faith but it is a matter of personal experience and integration of reality. Paul, the dynamic Apostle of Christ had such an experience of union with Christ, in whom he believed, an experience which lay at the very basis of his new life and his expanding mission beyond Jewish territories.
The present study consists of five chapters. The first chapter is an introduction to help us to understand the theme of the dissertation. It begins with a preliminary quest into the nature of religious commitment, concentrating on the theme of commitment in the Old Testament and Judaism in particular, analyzing the concept of covenant. This is followed by an analysis of the concept of discipleship in the New Testament in order to understand the inner nature of religious commitment. As a further step, the focus is shifted to the concept of Yoga as commitment according to the Bhāgavadgitā as a background for the Indian interpretation of Paul’s commitment to Christ.
The second chapter mainly focuses on Paul’s commitment in Judaism. For this we deal with the historical background that includes his education and upbringing, Pharisaic influence, Hellenistic influence, his zeal for his religion and finally, his contact with the first Christian community.
The third chapter is a detailed study of Paul’s encounter with the Risen Christ and its impacts on the person of Paul. In order to understand the profound implications of Paul’s personal commitment to Christ, the chapter analyzes the various accounts of the Damascus-Event which are narrated by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles with its similarities and dissimilarities, also Paul’s autobiographical accounts, which are found in the Letter to the Galatians (1:13-17) and the Letter to the Philippians (3:5-14).
The fourth chapter concentrates on the exegetical study of the expression, “zw/ de. ouvke,ti evgw,( zh/| de. evn evmoi. Cristo,j” (Gal 2:20) as well as the meaning and significance of this expression in the context of the Letter to the Galatians. Special attention is given to the section (Gal 2:15-21), in which the above classical statement is found. The delimitation of the text is followed by an analysis of the text, which leads to the interpretation of the statement and offers some theological reflections.
The fifth chapter makes an attempt to interpret Paul’s mystical union from an Indian perspective, especially in the light of Indian Yogic perspective and to view this experience of Paul’s Yogic experience as a paradigm for Christian discipleship.
Sr. Paulcy clearly stated that besides the basic convergences there are also certain divergences between the biblical concept of mystical union and the Indian concept of such mystical union according to Bhāgavadgitā. While Christian spirituality perceives mystical union as a total gift of God, Bhāgavadgitā sees it more in terms of the result of human effort. In Christian understanding the union between God and human being is not an ontological merging whereas in Bhāgavadgitā it is apparently an ontological fusion. Against the background of the Upanishadic statement (mahavakya) aham brahmasmi, this union in Bhāgavadgitā seems to be a gradual realization of what was already present in a person. But in the Christian understanding this mystical union is something new, which has yet to take place. In short, the basic philosophical and theological presuppositions of the Bhāgavadgitā are entirely different from those of the Bible and Christian faith. However, it may be of interest to see the Pauline commitment to Christ in his Letters with the Yoga understanding of Bhāgavadgitā and its threefold exercise and experience.
Paul was well aware of the difficulties involved in his new religious commitment, namely, the knowledge of Jesus Christ (jñāna) and a consequent dedication to the person of Christ. Ever since it was an ongoing process of knowing Christ, sharing in his suffering and becoming like him in his death in the hope that he would also be raised from the dead to new life. This profound knowledge of Christ would gradually lead him to devotion (bhakti) towards Christ, to an unconditional commitment to Christ and to an absolute devotion to the person and work of Christ. Consequently, Paul accepted Christ as the centre of his life and it strengthened his commitment to endlessly work for Christ. His knowledge of Christ and his devotion to Christ led him also to the way of action (karma) which is evident from his three missionary journeys. Against the background of the above reflections on Paul’s encounter with Christ and his total dedication to the cause of Christ we try to analyze here Paul’s Christ experience succinctly expressed in his Letter to the Galatians (Gal 2:20 “I live; no longer I, but Christ lives in me”) from a Yogic perspective. Fides et Ratio, no.72