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Colossians Remixed 4

The targum of Walsh and Keesmaat, Colossians Remixed, continues:
In italics again, Paul’s words: Col. 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.
So ever since we have heard of your faith, love and hope, we have not ceased to pray for you. And our prayer is that in a world that has commodified knowledge, you will be saturated with the holistic, intimate knowledge of God’s way with this world that he has created. May your lives be characterized not by the accumulation of disembodied, unconnected facts and information but by a playful, history-embracing, this-worldly, interconnected wisdom that traces the wise and loving way God engages this world in all of its rich diversity.
10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his people in the kingdom of light.13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
What we are praying for is that you will demonstrate a spiritual wisdom and understanding in all things, so that you can discern where the Spirit is leading the church in this new century. You see, such knowledge, wisdom and understanding are essential if you are to shape cultural life in a way that is worthy of the Lord. And don’t miss the scope of what we are talking about here. What is at stake is nothing less than the pleasure of our Lord, a pleasure that he takes when every dimension of our lives bears the fruit of his kingdom.
But it is not simply a matter of growing in knowledge and then displaying the practical consequences or uses of that knowledge in our daily lives. No, that would be too much like the intellectualism that was the hallmark of modernity. The knowledge and cultural fruitfulness we are talking about feed off each other. Knowing the world in wisdom and discernment engenders a certain way of life that then leads to an increase in knowledge. Knowing grows in the doing.
But heres the rub, Everything in this monolithic culture of McWorld globalization is allied against you and will try to keep your imagination captive, stripping you of the courage to dream of alternative ways to live. When a culture is threatened, it becomes especially repressive of those who dare to live differently, subject to another vision of life, another Lord. So may you be strengthened with all strength and empowered with the weighty power of God in this disempowered culture of unbearable lightness. May your vision, your stubborn refusal to allow your imaginations to be taken captive, have the tenacity to hang in there for the long haul and a patience that doesn’t need to aggressively realize the kingdom of God now, because your faith will work and wait for a miracle, for the coming of God’s shalom to our terribly broken world.
You will have the resources of such patient endurance and be sustained for the long haul of radical obedience in the face of overwhelming odds if your life is embedded in gratitude. Joyful thanksgiving is deeply empowering.
And what we are thankful for provides us with a subversive imagination. While the cybernetic revolution will tell us that the world is in the hands of those with the most powerful computers and widest Net access, and while the forces of globalization arrogantly proclaim that those who control capital have a proprietary right to the resources of creation, we confess that this world is the inheritance of those who live in the light — not the dim light of the Enlightenment, nor the glittering lights of computer screens, televisions and gambling terminals, but the light that liberates us from darkness.
You see, friends, because we are not subsevient to the empire but subjects of the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, we have the audacity to say to the darkness, “We beg to differ!” We will not be a pawn to the Prince of Darkness any longer, because we owe him no allegiance, and by God’s grace, through our redemption and forgiveness, our imaginations have been set free.

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Andy Cornett

posted September 20, 2007 at 8:28 am

I confess I have not read this book yet, thought it’s been on my list for nearly a year now. I like the style of writing a targum alongside the scripture itself, and the direction and freedom that it gives. On the whole, their writing so far has a winsome way of speaking the truth to us as we struggle in this world. But I do not think this last bit hierehere does justice to 1:13-14. It’s declaration of the power of God in Christ that has rescued us, brought us to himself, and redeemed us is what makes possible our entire re-imagining of life lived in terms of the kingdom of the son. I wish they dwelt a little more on how they see that.

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posted September 20, 2007 at 9:20 am

Scot –
Thank you for bringing us this series. It has saved me from being tempted to spend any more time on this remix.
There is much here that is inspiring and illuminating. But it is seasoned with so much anger and bitterness that I can hardly choke it down. Ranting against globalization and the cybernetic revolution is not helpful.
We know that the world is overrun by dark forces, as it was in Paul’s time. That is why we choose not to conform to it. Having made that choice, though, dwelling on the darkness is no aid in transformation and the renewing of mind. A life of service and justice is lived out of love, not in spite of darkness.

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Julie Clawson

posted September 20, 2007 at 10:11 am

Kyle – do you not see a need to help people see that the things we have so seeped our lives with are in fact harmful to our souls? Sure most Christians have a lingering fear of the internet because it can lead to porn, but capitalism and the American government? For most Americans to question those things is to abandon patriotism, question god, and aid the terrorists. I think it is helpful to see that Paul’s writing is not merely the abstract religious lingo we often assume it to be, but direct references to the culture and government of his time. That needs to be translated to our context to get the message across for many.

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tim atwater

posted September 20, 2007 at 10:25 am

Scot and all,
thanks for this series and all the posts so far.
Colossians Remixed is (i think) very good at raising up a good mix of ancient-pomo (paraphrasing Robt Weber)…
I especially like the way the reading method practiced incorporates Targumization (a guild practice of the Rabbis of old) along with social-contextual analysis (emulating Rabbi Jesus, who did this always and said do as i have done…)–
I don’t think it’s fair to the book to critique the targumization without a bit digging deeper into this genre… and here i am thinking my own understanding needs checking…
I have read a few ancient targums and more midrash and the distinctions still tend to blur in my mind — please correct me (Scot and anyone else who knows) —
Targums were generally fairly close but not meant to be exact paraphrases of a Hebrew bible text, read in synagogue services, usually i think in Aramaic, always after the reading of the same text in Hebrew? Designed to draw out shades of meaning that might escape partly… and to give the text another hearing in another more familiar language… (Both/and??)
So (if this is right above)– ‘translating’ or contextualizing the targum approach is a bit like reading the text in Hebrew (if we know Hebrew) first, then a good English translation second (figuring even the more literal translations miss a lot in translation?) —
OR –if we take the targumization process less literally and more loosely (and assuming most of us are not readers of Hebrew and most of those in most of our churches do not know the bible as well as first century Jewish or Christian readers)– first hearing the best possible close english translation — then reading the Message or Amplified Bible of something similar… a paraphrase which deliberately add relatively sparse but additional interpretive phrases…(?)
Is this too strict or not strict enough an understanding of targums?
Then there is midrash, which i’ve read a little more of than targums, and which may or may not be appropriate to discuss here.
Do you think W-R sometimes blur the lines and do midrash under the name of targum?
(Even if they do, in my opinion, this is not very different from what manay classical Protestant bible interpreters have done… from before St Augustine… still its probably good to clarify…?)

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tim atwater

posted September 20, 2007 at 10:39 am

Sorry to be coming in late to the discussion. Have read all the previous posts. (and may post some late posts back on early subjects).
I do believe the basic take of Colossians Remixed on empire is unassailable…
I don’t think we’ll ever know the exact mix of heresies and/or problem behaviors Paul was addressing (unless we discover the lost letters to Paul from the Colossians in an ancient church library … or more likely, til we get to heaven and get to ask the principals in person)…
but i’m sure the early church included Colossians in the canon primarily for its universal application, not just the particulars of Colossae and nearby churches…
The authors are on the money i believe in raising as a core concern the questions about how can Paul be or appear to be simultaneously subverting slavery (and negative sides of) patriarchy while also fine-tuning slavery and patriarchy… (surely these were the unresolvable questions that led me to read Paul about a tenth as much as the gospels and give his theology less weight than that in my earlier life)…And surely the weight of Law, Prophets and Writings (as Scot has pointed out under topic of ‘justice’ in an earlier post) are all on the side of liberation and justice… which a consistent reading of the whole of scripture can’t ignore and has to at least engage…
This is a messy and incomplete book probably… but the best i’ve seen yet on Paul…

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Scot McKnight

posted September 20, 2007 at 10:52 am

The Aramaic targums are more or less paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible. More often pretty close than loose and expansive. A section like W-K is over the top for classic targums, but nothing done in any paragraph is impossible — just a whole section like that is beyond what I’ve seen.

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posted September 20, 2007 at 11:30 am

Paul: “and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his people in the kingdom of light”
W-K: “While the cybernetic revolution will tell us that the world is in the hands of those with the most powerful computers and widest Net access, and while the forces of globalization arrogantly proclaim that those who control capital have a proprietary right to the resources of creation, we confess that this world is the inheritance of those who live in the light”
I read the W-K quote to be more “The empire has arrogantly taken what is ours and we want it back” than “I am thankful to God that my kingdom is from a different place and nobody can take it away.”

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tim atwater

posted September 20, 2007 at 1:05 pm

thanks Scot
so it’s not a classical targum — nor classical midrash, which concentrates on finding ‘inner’ meanings (sometimes even quite oppositional to the plain or literal meaning of a text) —
Probably targum as used by W-K here is a literary device (within the broader biblical tradition, probably) that aims to translate culturally more than linguistically (cultural-linguistically, with the accent on cultural translation)…
This kind of writing inherently takes more words — like some of Paul’s letters — because there is a need to speak to more than one cultural audience, with some cross-correlation back and forth to try to reassure the older audience (Jews in Paul’s correspondence, already in church Christians, in W-K’s book) while letting the newer or younger audience know there culture IS in fact addressed by the word of God…
ps — any thoughts on Paul’s use of midrash and/or targums? the one that comes to mind is 1 Corinthians 10, where there is a well-known midrash about the well of Miriam accompanying Israel through the wilderness…

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John W Frye

posted September 20, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Kyle (#2),
Anger and bitterness? Ranting? Dwelling on the darkness? I read the same words and sensed none of this. I think what helps me is hearing W-K present some of this “targum” live at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. They do not strike me as people who are bent out shape with anger and bitterness. Rather they are an insightful, fun-loving couple who have done their homework.

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Ted M. Gossard

posted September 20, 2007 at 11:18 pm

John, Gee. I wish I could have been there.

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