Over at the Emerging Women blog
, I am hosting this month’s book discussion
on Colossians Remixed
by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat. I read this book about a year ago. At the time it was the first “deeper” book I had read after a year and a half of “mommy brain” syndrome. It helped wake me up and get me passionate about life, faith, theology, and justice again. I had heard Brian Walsh speak at the Emergent convention and knew I wanted to hear more from him. You can read more about the book over at the EW blog
. I highly recommend it as a glimpse into how emerging believers interact with scripture (or is it how scripture interacts with us?)
Anyway. I started the discussion over there with a long series of questions. I’ll wait and see how the discussion unfolds over there (who knows if anyone even read the book or wants to participate), but I’m going to
respond to my own questions more in depth here. So here we go with question #1 -
1.The question of interpretation. What is your reaction to this quote? "Reading is always from somewhere. We always read from a particular historical, cultural and geographical place. The question that we must ask is, how do we "place" ourselves, how do we discern the times and spirits that invariably influence our reading of a text like Colossians? What are the questions, crises and opportunities that we necessarily (and legitimately) bring to this text?" p19
I’ve touched on the issue of Biblical interpretation a lot here. I think by now that it’s fairly obvious that I’m not a literalist and that I do acknowledge that Biblical interpretation does in fact exist. The question is, are we aware of our lenses and biases when it comes to reading this text?
Honestly, until I read Colossians Remixed
, I had never given much thought to this particular epistle. It wasn’t a trendy youth group devotional book like Philippians. Nor is its list of household codes (wives submit and all that) as popular as other similar passages. I know I read it. It fit the follow Christ, don’t sin, and women submit pattern I was used to hearing oh, just about everywhere. No big deal. What’s the point. Moving on.
I never stopped to ask what were the people like in Colosse and how am I like them? I ignored the shadow of the Roman Empire that we are so quick to acknowledge in the stories of Christ’s birth and death, but which seems to fade away in our ultra-individualized readings of Paul. And the admonitions to let no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy and to put to death the earthly nature were used as direct challenges not to actually think or engage with this scripture or any scripture at all for that matter – since thinking necessarily involved hollow philosophies and earthly habits. For those same reasons, historical exploration of the original context wasn’t really needed either. God is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow – so obviously this text will mean exactly the same thing to us 21st century American Christians reading it in English as it did to 1st century believers hearing it read aloud in Greek. End of story.
That is how I had previously encountered Colossians.
Then I discovered a whole new set of lenses. What if we thought about what these people faced as oppressed citizens of an empire? What if we explored how the language in this letter directly challenges the common language of empire? And what if we opened our eyes and saw the empire that we are living under?
That woke me up and changed my reading of Colossians. As I engage with the rest of the questions, I will explore some of the points that stood out to me as I looked at Colossians from a fresh perspective.
Labels: Book Reviews, Colossians Remixed, Emerging Women, Theology