Friday, January 30, 2009

Stuckenbruck on Colossians

The author discourages the Colossian Christians from becoming involved in a series of practices which he regards as superfluous to one’s basic identity in Christ.[1]
Because the structure of the universe, whether heaven or earth, has been fashioned through the agency of Christ in creation (1:15-20), the state of being ‘raised with Christ’ and being devoted to ‘things that are above’ (3:1-2) require that one take seriously the created order as a whole. Hence attentiveness to what is ‘above’ finds legitimate expression, not in asceticism of the body or through participation in angelic life, but in love, mutual support, and ordered behaviour within the framework of existing relationships in the Christian community (3:5-14) and of existing social structures in the world (3:18-4:1).[2]
The hymn’s emphasis that throne’s, dominions, rulers, and powers were – along with everything else – created through the agency of Christ 1:13-22 (1:16) helps the author diminish the importance being attached to the angelic and elemental powers which the readers are being tempted to adhere to (2:8, 18, 20).[3]
The Christ event not only has brought forgiveness of sins and reconciliation (1:13, 20, 21; 2:13), but is the very framework within which the readers are to structure their lives. Through baptism they have been initiated into the triumph of Jesus’ death over the legal demands and inimical powers (2:14-15) and they have already been ‘raised with Christ’ (2:13; 3:1), whereby they may ‘put on’ a new form of life in which ethnic, social, and religious distinctions no longer count in the same way as before (3:9-11, 12-14). Hence it is imperative that the readers realise not only what their identity is in relation to the Christ event, but also that this be the sole basis on which they grow into maturity (2:6-7, 19). It is in Christ that they are to convert their identity into appropriate ethical and social behaviour (3:5-8; 3:18-4:1); in Christ spirituality and life in the community have their foundation; and in Christ the ‘glory’ destined for God’s people will become fully manifest (1:26-7; 3:4).[4]

[1] Stuckenbruck, “Colossians and Philemon” in The Cambridge Companion to Paul ed. J. D. G. Dunn (Cambridge), pg. 122
[2] Stuckenbruck, “Colossians and Philemon”, pg. 123
[3] Stuckenbruck, “Colossians and Philemon”, pg. 124
[4] Stuckenbruck, “Colossians and Philemon”, pg. 124-5

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Brown on Colossians

If these observations [concerning the Colossian Philosophy] leave a picture filled with uncertainties, that is an honest estimate of the state of our knowledge of the teaching... Those who write with great certainty about it are, to a considerable extent, guessing. Of course, there is nothing wrong with guessing, provided that all are aware of how much guesswork is involved. At this distance in time and place we may not be able to decipher all the elements that went into the syncretism attacked in Colossians or identify the end-product with precision.
Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, pg. 607
The Colossian hymn professes that Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God – God’s Son in whom all things were created, in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through whom all things were reconciled to God. How within fifty years (at the latest) did Christians come to believe that about a Galilean preacher who was crucified as a criminal?
Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, pg. 617

The Twelve?

So, I'm still wrestling with the issue of "The Twelve", in ACTS especially. James Darlack provides some useful thinking, but then Scot McKnight went and confused me senseless with his Paper on Jesus and the Twelve, where he argues:
Jesus’ sending out the Twelve shows little parallel with the expectation of the reunification of the twelve tribes. Instead, the connotations of his choice and sending out of the Twelve show more significant parallels with Qumran leadership, T. Judah 25:1–2, and T. Benj. 10:7, and covenant reestablishment as found in Joshua 4. His expectation of the reunification of the twelve tribes in the land does emerge in the Q tradition (Luke 22:30 par. Matt 19:28; Luke 13:28–30 par. Matt 8:11–12), and his Twelve were to function in a leadership rule in that Kingdom. There is significant evidence for us to think that Jesus had in mind a restored Israel—twelve new leaders, the land under control, a pure Temple, and a radically obedient Israel. The two themes of covenant and eschatology that swirl around the number “twelve” form a combined witness to the centrality of Jesus’ vision for Israel: salvation-historical fulfillment—that is, covenant reestablishment—in his mission’s inauguration of the Kingdom and the embodiment of leadership in his twelve special leaders, who will rule and liberate the twelve tribes of Israel in the Kingdom.
Perhaps The Twelve only made sense amongst Jewish Christians (hence James?), and in the increasing Gentile mission, such symbolic significance was lost? Far more thinking is required on this topic....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Acts 1:20 - Prophecy?

Reading through Acts 1 today, I stumbled across vs. 20 - a very interesting verse.

“For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’

Having looked at the Psalms to which Peter is here alluding, Psalm 69 and 109, I really struggled to see how this psalm had anything to do with Judas' betrayal. Looking through the commentaries provided no relief either. Until Bock, that is! Here he notes the typological-prophetic use of these two psalms, which explains the use quite well...
The psalms Peter cites (69:25; 109:8) are about the unrighteous or the enemies of God, who ultimately are judged. Judas belongs in this category, so Peter applies the text to him in what is called hermeneutically a typological-prophetic manner… The first text is Ps. 69:25: since the defection has occurred, there is a reference to the enemy’s house being left desolate. The second text, Ps. 109:8, refers to what needs to be done to replace Judas. Someone must take his place of responsibility.[1]
The psalm [69:25] discusses the enemies of God. The psalmist cries to God to be delivered from them and calls for God’s judgement so that their camp is lef desolate and no one is able to live in their tents. Peter applies the psalm typically-prophetically to indicate that Judas has experienced such a judgement. They type of death Judas experienced left the field desolate for him and others. Matthew 27:7 notes that the field became a cemetery… The point of Peter’s citation is that judgement has fallen on this enemy of the righteous Jesus.[2]
Once again the psalm [109] in the MT is a lament of the psalmist asking for God’s judgement. The request is that the enemy’s days may be few and “another may seize his position [or goods].” Peter also uses this text typologically-prophetically to declared Judas judged. Judas’ position is free to go to another. Scripture justifies the new election.[3]
I think this explanation is very helpful. It still baffles me why Luke chose to record this episode. But perhaps Theophilus had some questions regarding "the Twelve". I find it strange that they disappear from memory in early Christianity... What was the point of having them in the first place? Why did Peter feel the need to keep the Twelve "intact"? I understand why the historical Jesus would want Twelve disciples, but early Christianity?
It doesn't really make that much sense to me...
[1] Bock, Acts, pg. 82 [2] Bock, Acts, pg. 85-86 [3] Bock, Acts, pg. 86

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


December and January have been utterly crazy! The South African National Baptist Summer Camp was the highlight of my speaking engagements, and then January allowed me the opportunity to share at the Jubilee Summer Camp for NewFrontiers.
All this to say, blogging will resume in Feb...
See you then...