Thoughts on "Colossians Remixed"

Well, I've finished reading "Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire" by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat, and I thought I'd give my thoughts on it. Please understand that this is from the perspective of someone completely untrained in theology.

The author's take a look at Paul's letter to the Colossians, trying to place it in a current context. They do this by means of various techniques. They use something called a "targum" which they explain to be something that Jewish rabbis would use when reading sections of the Torah, "translating" by putting the events in a more modern context. They also extrapolate out stories that might have happened around the events of Colossians (without ever claiming they actually did, of course). But the most common device they use is a dialog between the authors and an imaginary reader.

The first couple of chapters are tough to get through. They use a lot of theological terminology, when I think they could use "common" language to just as good effect. However, once you get past that hurdle, the reading becomes easier. That or I became less sensitive to it. ;)

The authors had a lot of good points to make. The basic underlying point was that, if you read Paul's letter in the context of the Roman empire, and the overarching story of Israel, then it means something much different that it appears on the face. That much I can agree with. However, I think they stretch things way too far. I know that exegesis is finding what it present in the text. I got the feeling that these authors had some preconceived ideas about what should be in the text, and found a way to look at things that supported it. Wendy tells me that's called eisegesis. I happen to support many of the positions that they held, but I didn't like the way they were supporting them.

For instance, they believe that it's a Christian's responsibility to be a voice counter to the culture where it is appropriate. However, I don't see that many of their illustrations support it the way they claim.

It's also very obvious that they have a strong opposition to the globalization of the economy. I have always thought of that as a good thing, but I'm willing to aknowledge that I may be in error on that point. I don't think the authors would be willing to make the same concession. They take as given that globalization is inherently evil in and of itself.

Bottom line: it's a fairly good book, but not one I would recommend to most people.