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This is poetry; this is poetry about the “image”. And Walsh and Keesmaat, in their Colossians Remixed, argue this is subversive poetry, poetry about an image that undermines empire and Rome and Caesar.
If you look for empire, you find empire; if you explain everything in light of empire, you convince yourself empire is everywhere. These deconstructive remarks emerge in my case from my reading of this commentary because I’d like to see some reading of Colossians and less talk about empire so that our minds are conditioned by empire to see empire. I see in Colossians very little attention on Rome and lots on Jerusalem. When I see the word “Christ” before Jesus I don’t think of Caesar, I think of the “Messiah” of the Hebrew Bible. And, no matter how chic it might be today, when I see “Lord” I think of “Kyrios” of the Septuagint, which translates “Adonai.” I don’t think of Caesar. Sorry. Furthermore, I appeal to numbers: how many Christians were there in Colosse and Laodicea? A few small group? Probably. Maybe Colossians were thinking of Rome since they had endured Rome; but how about Paul? His sights were on Jersalem. He was drenched with Israel’s story and he wanted Israel’s story to be “remixed” for his day — and that meant converting both Jews and Gentiles to his Messianic story of Israel.
This section in their commentary concerns 1:15-20 printed above. “In a world populated by images of Caesar…” (83). That’s their point. Problem for me is that I see Eikon of God when applied to Christ not so much as a counter-image to Caesar as the “anthropology” of Israel: humans made in God’s Eikon who are designed by God to be restored into that Eikon (2 Cor 3:18; 4:4).
In our passage the Eikon, who is Christ, is Creator over all (this could be Empire ideology) and the head of the Church (which I doubt is Empire ideology). His supremacy is Israel’s story, not Rome’s story — why? Because his headship, his rule, is by way of resurrection in order to incorporate others into that headship. It was through him that reconciliation was to be accomplished.
Show me one direct word about Rome and about assaulting Roman ideology with an anti-empire ideology in this book. Not words that can be “explained” that way but words that “directly” state that. We can do all the word connotations and associations we want, but such are often driven by what we are looking for. First, I must be convinced of empire and Rome are directly in Paul’s sights.
I’ve taken a hard stand for those who are writing to me and talking to me abot their struggles with this commentary.