Tuesday, December 05, 2006

29 Things about Colossians

1. Style a bit different from usual for Paul. Perhaps Timothy had more to do with the drafting of this letter (so Dunn). Some say pseudonymous (40%?).

2. Colossians was apparently destroyed by an earthquake in the early 60's.

3. Epaphras apparently founded the church.

4. emphasis on knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in the thanksgiving section fits with a false Jewish "philosophy" that claimed knowledge of the heavenly realm.

5. Has what appears to have been a hymn. Hymn hints include a) introduction by "who"; b) parallelism (e.g., a first and second stanza that are at least vaguely parallel), c) but with clear interruptions (which implies that Paul/Timothy is interrupting something that already existed, d) unique Pauline vocabulary.

6. Hymn seemed to draw on logos traditions, Middle Platonic.

7. Hymn, as elsewhere in Colossians, emphasizes Christ's supremacy over heavenly powers, which fits with a false Jewish "philosophy" that prided itself in engagement with angels.

8. The audience likely Gentile (were formerly alienated from God).

9. The mystery of Colossians is that Christ can be in the Gentiles too.

10. Colossae and Laodicea closely located to each other and coupled several times in this letter (also Hierapolis mentioned).

11. Core purpose of Colossians is to address a false Jewish "philosophy" in their environs.

12. The "written account" that Christ nailed to the cross is apparently the record of debt against us, rather than the law (although Ephesians would push us to see it as the Jewish law).

13. The cross defeated the evil heavenly powers that rule the earth.

14. The "philosophy" is clearly Jewish in some way beause of the mention of the Sabbath, which Paul tells the Colossians they are not obligated to.

15. The "philosophy" involved self-discipline of some sort, probably at least the food laws but perhaps some sort of ascetic practice as well.

16. The "philosophy" involved visions of the heavenly realm.

17. The "philosophy" involved the "worship of angels," in this case perhaps participation in angelic worship, although perhaps the majority still sees it as a syncreticistic angel worship or at least a hyperbolic pot shot for overvaluing angels.

18. The mention that such people are severed from the head (Christ) implies that some Christians have actually gone for the philosophy.

19. Paul/Timothy seems to associate keeping food regulations with submission to earthly powers. A bit bizarre, although Galatians anticipates this trajectory.

20. Talk of them already raised with Christ, more realized eschatology.

21. Talk of putting to death the parts of them that belong to the earth, to put off their old self and put on their new selves. Slight shift from Paul's earlier image of this happening with baptism.

22. Similar set of "there is neither Jew nor Greek" statements, minus the neither male nor female one. Fits with the household codes, that appear here first in Paul's writings in this form.

23. Form and basic thrust of household codes taken from pagan moralists (e.g., Aristotle). Not uniquely Christian for Paul's day.

24. Colossians emphasizes the slave-master relationship, fits with Philemon. Masters not told to set their slaves free.

25. Extremely high overlap in names between Colossians and Philemon, including Onesimus. But Onesimus seems more established as a believer than in Philemon. Also Aristarchus and Epaphras have changed places as fellow prisoners.

26. 29 word commonality in the final part of Colossians with Ephesians, word for word with only two words omitted in Ephesians.

27. Luke is a doctor and, apparently, a Gentile.

28. Evidence that Paul's letters were shared with various churches. Laodicea and Colossae were to share their letters. Some think that Ephesians was actually the letter to Laodicea (e.g., Muholland at Asbury).

29. Paul signs the letter.


Scott D. Hendricks said...

#2: Colossae, instead of Colossians?

Ken Schenck said...

Good call, Scott