My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I would have liked this book a lot if I had read it in 2004 when it was new. It would have resonated with things I was thinking and feeling at the time and depending on when I read it, may have influenced my thinking. As it stands, it simply affirms things I've already come to accept over the last decade.
This interpretation of Colossians asserts that Paul is doing anti-imperial theology, subverting the images and claims of Caesar. In the early and mid-Aughts this was refreshingly new for many of us and helped us to grapple with the issues in contemporary American life post-9/11 and the beginning of the Iraq War. In many ways the idea was not new (Wink, Brueggemann, and others had long made these claims) but I think many of us were open to it in new ways due to America's imperial ambitions.
This is not your standard commentary, but rather an interesting exercise in hermeneutics. The authors are primarily concerned with addressing the concerns of postmodern students who reject the Bible for making claims they consider to be absolute. There are some interesting epistemological discussions.
Their overall writing style is filled with imagined dialogues and targums upon the text -- either imagining the thoughts of historical characters like Onesimus and Nympha, or contemporizing Paul's language to deal with the imperial claims of our global economy.
So, this will help with my upcoming sermon series on Colossians (the first time I've preached a series on the book) but I feel that liberal mainline congregations are a little tired of the anti-imperial, social justice messages of the New Testament so I'll be looking for other approaches as well.
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