We begin today a series on Colossians and to do this I will be reading my way through a book many of you have perhaps read: Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmat, a husband and wife team, wrote Colossians Remixed.
Here’s a guiding theme for the whole: “The epistle to the Colossians, we are arguing, was an explosive and subversive tract in the context of the Roman empire, and it can be and ought to function in an analogous way in the imperial realities of our time. This letter proclaimed an alternative reality, animating a way of life that was subversive to the ethos of the Roman empire” (8).
W-K (my abbreviation) believe commentaries are mired in modernity and they seek to offer a “cultural, political, social and ecological reading” of Colossians. And what they offer they live out.
One of their conversational partners is William, a young man reared in a Christian home who left that faith during his university years, entered the capitalistic world, and then informs W-K that he has become a “theist.” He thinks “money is boring and that people who get excited about money are even more boring than the money itself” (15). He has concluded that “autonomy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I no longer believe that I am totally in control of my life.”
But he has problems with the Bible as a postmodern. With Paul’s claim to divine authority and his letter partaking in that authority and with all Paul’s “everythings” and “alls” William has problems. Here’s how W-K summarize William’s problem with Colossians: “You posit a divine authority to yourself as author of the letter, wipe out any opposition that suggests things might be looked at differently, put clear restrictions on personal and communal life, and then top it all off with a divine sanction for patriarchy and slavery. And you want a postmodern person at the beginning of the twenty-first century to read this text, learn from it and maybe even receive it as divinely inspired Scripture? I don’t think so!” (18).
I’ve published Colossians as a separate text here.