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In Matthew Gordley, New Testament Christological Hymns, a case is made that Colossians 1:15-20 is a kind of resistance literature or poetry.
We are asking How we know when something in the NT is resistance-of-the-empire literature or statement? I will argue that the kind of argument Gordley makes diminishes the potency of the anti-imperial reading and of the resistance literature, but that at some level Colossians 1:15-20 offers a worldview at odds with Rome, with empire, and this therefore at some level a resistance.
Readings - Result - Politics - Jesus - Vision
I am personally inclined toward anti-imperial readings as a result of how I read the politics of Jesus and the ecclesial vision of Paul. Esp in an era of Trump. But, the method for detection is not that powerful and on top of that is a historical reality that the church in Colosse is so infinitesimally small that “resistance” can be an over reach of magnitude.
Here we go. First, he outlines a solid approach to how resistance literature in the Jewish world worked, with my own emphases:
Recall - Resistance - Poetry - Judaism - Features
Recall that the resistance poetry of early Judaism has several features. First, it often recounts horrors of the past as it facilitates remembering for the sake of the oppressed. Second, through its imagery, language, descriptions, and metaphors resistance poetry articulates and provides resources for shaping the identity of the community contrast to the identity of the oppressors. Third, poetry of resistance promotes hope through the articulation of a desirable future that serves to motivate the kind of resistance the poem advocates.
With these categories he goes to Colossians 1:15-20 and “finds” such features. His words now:
Jesus - Hymn - Jesus - Significance - Events
While it is evident that Jesus is remembered in the Colossian hymn, it is significant to note what is remembered about Jesus as well as the significance given to those past events. Rather than a narrative such as...
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