In Colossians Remixed, Walsh-Keesmaat argue that there are three important rules for interpreting a text: context, context, context. Which is what the first four chapters did. What surprises, of course, many today is that they would choose “empire” as the context for Colossians. Is it the best one?
One of the responses I am having to W-K, along with saying to myself “that’s pretty good,” is “Is this Jewish enough?” In other words, is Paul’s concern “Rome’s empire” or “Israel’s history”? Not that we have to choose between the two. Here’s a question: I can agree that “fruitfulness” has a long and storied history in the OT. Is that enough or do we also need the Roman image of fruitfulness in order to set Paul’s message in context? Is fruitfulness the reward for faithfulness or is it reward in the face of empire building?
Chp 5 interacts imaginatively with folks who are asking just this question of the authors.
Monday we will observe how Paul himself moves to “image” in Colossians 1:15 and how W-K see 1:15-20 as subversive poetry.