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Colossians

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The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible advances the assumption that the Nicene creedal tradition, in all its diversity, provides the proper basis for the interpretation of the Bible as Christian scripture. The series encourages readers to extend the vital roots of the ancient Christian tradition to our day. In this addition to the acclaimed series, renowned scholar The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible advances the assumption that the Nicene creedal tradition, in all its diversity, provides the proper basis for the interpretation of the Bible as Christian scripture. The series encourages readers to extend the vital roots of the ancient Christian tradition to our day. In this addition to the acclaimed series, renowned scholar Christopher Seitz offers a theological exegesis of Colossians, bringing his expertise in canonical reading to bear on his interpretation of this Pauline letter. As with other volumes in the series, the book is ideal for those called to ministry.


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The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible advances the assumption that the Nicene creedal tradition, in all its diversity, provides the proper basis for the interpretation of the Bible as Christian scripture. The series encourages readers to extend the vital roots of the ancient Christian tradition to our day. In this addition to the acclaimed series, renowned scholar The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible advances the assumption that the Nicene creedal tradition, in all its diversity, provides the proper basis for the interpretation of the Bible as Christian scripture. The series encourages readers to extend the vital roots of the ancient Christian tradition to our day. In this addition to the acclaimed series, renowned scholar Christopher Seitz offers a theological exegesis of Colossians, bringing his expertise in canonical reading to bear on his interpretation of this Pauline letter. As with other volumes in the series, the book is ideal for those called to ministry.

44 review for Colossians

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Kennedy

    The Brazos Theological Commentary series enlists “leading theologians [to] read and interpret scripture for today’s church, providing guidance for reading the Bible under the rule of faith.” The emphasis is upon a theological and unashamedly “Christian” interpretation. This pushes back against attempts for “objective” historical readings stripped of tradition. The choice of commentator is unique, such as philosophers, theologians and historians of varying traditions. The Colossians volume is by The Brazos Theological Commentary series enlists “leading theologians [to] read and interpret scripture for today’s church, providing guidance for reading the Bible under the rule of faith.” The emphasis is upon a theological and unashamedly “Christian” interpretation. This pushes back against attempts for “objective” historical readings stripped of tradition. The choice of commentator is unique, such as philosophers, theologians and historians of varying traditions. The Colossians volume is by Christopher Seitz. Seitz an OT scholar with expertise on canonical reading of Scripture. The result is a fresh reading of Paul’s letter. COLOSSIANS Seitz governs his commentary by three presuppositions: A proper Christian interpretation avoids the “amnesia of the present age” (p19) by considering the entire 2,000 years of interpretive history. The “history” of a text includes not only its original setting, but other factors such as its placement in the canon. Colossians is given to us in the context of Paul’s letter collection and we must interpret it in this context. SETTING: THE WHERE The usual questions are asked in the introduction, but with important differences. When it comes to setting, Seitz is less concerned with typical matters such as the city of Colossae, its church, the nature of the false teaching, and so on. For Seitz, modern scholarship’s fixation on these is mistaken “because the canonical portrayal is frankly of a different sort of presentation” (p25). In other words, the usual questions asked of the text are difficult to answer because these are not forefront concerns in the NT text itself. We are asking of Scripture what Scripture has no concern to answer. So rather than asking history “where”, Seitz asks that question of the canon: where does Colossians sit in the canon? Seitz argues that, beginning with Ephesians, the Pauline collection hangs on his imprisonment. Thus, we ought to seek “the theological significance of Paul’s imprisonment” (p30). OCCASION: THE WHY This brings about questions of occasion (the “why”). Since Colossians can be read by other churches with profit (Col 4:16), the occasion for writing “cannot be the specifics of a problem Paul is concerned about and solely that” (p33). This releases Colossians of its most difficult feature: we simply don’t know much about its historical setting. Instead, Seitz looks within Colossians, and finds that the most overlooked passage (Col 1:24-2:5) provides the answer. Paul, in his imprisonment, “has become aware that his letter writing is a form of apostolic ministry” (p37). THE OLD TESTAMENT Next, Seitz asks the relationship of Colossians to the Old Testament. Seitz finds intriguing parallels between Paul’s thirteen-letter collection and the Book of the Twelve (“minor prophets”). Both share the concern of passing on inspired word to a new audience. It’s noteworthy that Colossians never quotes the OT, but drawing from the recent works of Beale and Beetham, allusions certainly abound. AUTHORSHIP: THE WHO A common question in modern scholarship is whether Paul indeed wrote Colossians. Seitz’s canonical perspective sidesteps the issue. By reading canonically, we find that: Paul stands alone as canonical author of the thirteen letters, and how that is so is less prominent in the presentation than that it is so. To introduce an alternative understanding in the name of modern conceptions is to fail to accept the limitations of modern inquiry into what is scriptural convention. p50 MY THOUGHTS So far I have only addressed the introduction of the commentary. This is not because the commentary proper is uninteresting or bland, but that it’s important to see the unique course set by Seitz in the introduction. This canonical approach impacts his interpretation significantly. For example, Seitz has little interest in identifying the “Colossian Heresy” (Mystical Judaism? Syncretistic folk religion? Proto-Gnosticism?), and reads Paul’s statements universally as emphasizing Jesus over practices and experiences. Some will see this interpretation as historically insensitive. However, such a reading is shown to be historically aware in another way: the history of interpretation. Seitz regularly draws from early Christian writings who have read the letter as universally applicable. What’s more, Seitz is unafraid to interpret Colossians in light of Paul’s other letters. Put simply, Seitz is not interpreting the Colossians that was delivered to an ancient church in Colossae, but the Colossians that we have in the canon. I must admit, I find myself drawn to the canonical approach of Seitz and others (e.g. Trobisch). However, I have seen much discussion about method, but less of the payoff, so I highly enjoyed how this commentary put the concepts into practice. Perhaps my largest criticism of the commentary is Seitz’s oft-labyrinthine writing style that regularly requires several re-readings to understand. As a volume that attempts to chart its own course inspired by a theological interpretation, Seitz’s Colossians does not disappoint. I would highly recommend it be read alongside any more “traditional” (read: modern!) commentary, such as Moo, Bird, or Dunn. I certainly found it stimulating and provocative. There’s nothing quite like it. Many thanks to Brazos Press for a review copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris Woznicki

    The Brazos Theological Commentary series exists for the sake of interpreting scripture in light of the Church’s creeds. The books in the series do not shy away from moving back and forth between exegesis and theological interpretation. In fact many of the books in this series are designed to demonstrate the intellectual viability of the ongoing project many have termed “theological interpretation.” As a part of the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series, Seitz commentary on Colossians The Brazos Theological Commentary series exists for the sake of interpreting scripture in light of the Church’s creeds. The books in the series do not shy away from moving back and forth between exegesis and theological interpretation. In fact many of the books in this series are designed to demonstrate the intellectual viability of the ongoing project many have termed “theological interpretation.” As a part of the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series, Seitz commentary on Colossians shows the reader not only what it looks like to do theological interpretation, he also shows the reader how to read scripture in light of the entire canon. Most commentaries shy away from reading scripture in this way. Features of the Commentary The First unique aspect of this commentary is Seitz' refusal to read Colossians apart from the rest of scripture. This commentary really is an exercise in canonical interpretation, i.e. “interpretation of one of Paul’s letters in the context of them all, of the New Testament more generally, and of the Old Testament as Christian Scripture.” (27) This sort of reading certainly has its benefits – it is holistic, it refuses to get stuck in matters of historical background, it respects the text for what it says in its final form, and encourages a reader-response sort of reading. However it also has its drawbacks, specially that this sort of reading can wash out the distinctive message of the book one is focused upon, in this case Colossians. Another interesting feature of this commentary is Seitz’ view on the Colossian heresy. Seitz decides to push the historical matter into the background of his commentary. That is, he refuses to focus upon it. He does this for several reasons, according to Seitz: 1)The heresy is not the point of the book (more on this below), 2) Paul does not know the details of the heresy, 3) Paul is being intentionally vague about the issue and recommendations for how to address the issue. I definitely have to disagree with Seitz on this point, Paul might have other purposes in writing the letter, but the nature of the heresy really is important, and we shouldn’t simply relegate it to being a non-issue. A third interesting feature of this commentary is how Seitz allows the Old Testament to inform his interpretation of Colossians, specifically, he allows Genesis to do a lot of the heavy lifting in his interpretation. At the same time he notes that Colossians does not directly quote any OT scripture. The reasons Paul does not do this is because the Colossian church is primarily gentile, and they would have been unaware of much of the OT. Thus Paul is attempting to draw them into a OT worldview before he begins to instruct them on the OT text. A fourth unique feature of Seitz’ commentary is his belief that Paul is responsible for collecting his own letters, organizing them, editing them, and distributing them because he knew that they were akin to scripture. Seitz believes that Romans serves as an introductory letter, forming the basis for our interpretation of the rest of Paul’s letters. Seitz makes these claims in light of the affinities he sees between Paul’s corpus and the minor prophets. Finally, the most significant feature of this commentary is Seitz view on the purpose of Colossians. As I mentioned above, he strays away from traditional interpretations which see the occasion of the letter lying in the problem of the Colossian heresy. Most commentaries spend a substantial amount of time trying to figure out the nature of this heresy, but Seitz almost entirely avoids doing this. He avoids it because he believes that Colossians is transitional letter which explains Paul’s transition between an apostle who travels and preaches to an apostle who fulfills his apostolic calling in letter writing. As Seitz says on pg. 37, “Paul has become aware that his letter writing is a form of apostolic ministry with its own integrity and afterlife, especially in the form of letters in emerging collective association.” Because of his awareness of his changing role, Paul writes a more general letter. Seitz notes the seemingly intentional vagueness/imprecision/generality Paul uses when addressing the nature of the heresy. Seitz believes that Paul speaks in generalities because he now knows that this letter will make its away to other churches around the world (thus enabling him to fulfill his apostolic calling to the gentiles.) Thus Paul addresses general problems that many gentile churches will face in the future. However, despite the fact that the letter is meant to have a broader audience, Seitz does not ignore the fact that this letter is written specifically to the Colossian church. So Seitz tries to balance the global nature of the letter and the local nature of the letter. What shall we make of this? I really don’t know…. Seitz’ points about the vagueness & generality of Paul’s comments makes a lot of sense, however it seems to be quite a stretch to infer from Paul’s imprecise language that Paul has such global intentions. It might be better just to say that Paul was vaguely aware of the problems they were facing, so he speaks in generalities, much like a guest preacher might do at a church he is visiting (Seitz does use this example). We should probably leave it at that rather than infer from this that Paul has a global purpose in mind for this letter. The text simply does not lead us to believe that. Nevertheless, I recommend this commentary. It is interesting, makes some unique claims, and helps the reader focus on what the text is actually trying to say. Instead of getting bogged down behind the text, this commentary encourages us to stay in the text. This is a welcomed feature, which is unusually absent in most academically rigorous commentaries.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pat O'Keeffe

    I found this to be a really stimulating and helpful commentary. Unfortunately, the writing was often quite confusing, and the argument became repetitive.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    Colossians is one of St. Paul's shortest Epistles, and it was also written while he was in prison. The general consensus is that he was writing to correct errors found among the converts in the church of Colossae, such as false forms of worship, avoiding certain foods, and mortification of the flesh. Seitz, the commentator argues otherwise. When I received this commentary on Colossians, I was expecting a roughly 100 page book. The book was in fact 200+ pages, and it left me wondering, "How can y Colossians is one of St. Paul's shortest Epistles, and it was also written while he was in prison. The general consensus is that he was writing to correct errors found among the converts in the church of Colossae, such as false forms of worship, avoiding certain foods, and mortification of the flesh. Seitz, the commentator argues otherwise. When I received this commentary on Colossians, I was expecting a roughly 100 page book. The book was in fact 200+ pages, and it left me wondering, "How can you write that much on a four chapter book?" For starters, this is a verse-by-verse commentary, and anytime you analyze every verse in a Biblical book, you give yourself room for plenty of words. There are also many excursuses or narrative digressions sprinkled throughout the book. Seitz divides Colossians into the following sections: 1:1-2 Formal Introduction and Salutations 1:3-8 Paul and Associates Give Thanks 1:9-14 Our Prayers for You and Our Common Destiny in Christ 1:15-20 Hymn to Christ from His Scriptures 1:21-29 Christ's Reconciliation and Paul's Vocation 2:1-7 Striving Mightily for You 2:8-23 The So-Called Conflict at Collosae 3:1-17 Putting on the New Life in Christ 3:18-4:1 In Deed 4:2-18 Goodbye There were two features of this commentary that I found interesting. The first is that Seitz read Colossians in the context of all of St. Paul's Epistles and the entire Canon of Scripture. The other part I found interesting was that Seitz ignored the Colossians heresy and focused instead on this being a shift from Paul the missionary apostle to Paul the letter-writing apostle. The former I greatly appreciated, and the latter I found disappointing. To completely ignore the heresy seems imprudent. This wasn't the best commentary I have read on Colossians, nor was it the best commentary in Brazos' series. If you are looking for a more traditional commentary, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a different perspective on this Biblical book to compare with other commentaries, pick it up. 3.5 stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    A canonical approach to Paul's letter to the Colossians. The author does well at remaining within the confines of the Brazos Theological Commentary paradigm and does not seem to mind them at all. He begins with a defense for a canonical reading of Colossians and makes much of its canonical placement. He defends Pauline authorship of the letter well, pointing out the specificity of the people mentioned towards the end of the letter and frames it as the mature reflections of Paul to a congregation A canonical approach to Paul's letter to the Colossians. The author does well at remaining within the confines of the Brazos Theological Commentary paradigm and does not seem to mind them at all. He begins with a defense for a canonical reading of Colossians and makes much of its canonical placement. He defends Pauline authorship of the letter well, pointing out the specificity of the people mentioned towards the end of the letter and frames it as the mature reflections of Paul to a congregation who has never met him and never will. Most of the commentary maintains the continuity of how the text has been understood generally. He believes that what we deem as Ephesians is also the substance of the letter to the Laodiceans; he suggests that the "opponents" of Colossians 2 are not necessarily immediately persons within or influencing the congregation there but are representative of the types of dangers around which might influence the Colossian Christians at any time. A solid commentary, although the author seems to see DNA everywhere. Worth consideration. **--galley received as part of early review program

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I enjoyed this scholarly exploration of Paul's letter to the Colossians, part of a series with multiple authors and editors. Seitz looks at this letter's place in Paul's written ministry, the questions about the letters authorship, the original language used by Paul, as well as the multiple translations to delve into the letters meaning. Paul reminds his readers of the supremacy of The Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the new life in Christ, warns them of false teachers and to avoid her I enjoyed this scholarly exploration of Paul's letter to the Colossians, part of a series with multiple authors and editors. Seitz looks at this letter's place in Paul's written ministry, the questions about the letters authorship, the original language used by Paul, as well as the multiple translations to delve into the letters meaning. Paul reminds his readers of the supremacy of The Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the new life in Christ, warns them of false teachers and to avoid heresy, and encourages them to grow in their faith. The well reasoned commentary and analysis were enlightening, the footnotes were educational and reading this book was a positive experience for an inquisitive Christian. I would rate this book 3.5 stars if Goodreads allowed half stars. I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaways.

  7. 4 out of 5

    NVTony

    Most scholarly presentation of authors position. Would have given 5 stars but found the print small and made reading often confusing. Members of the clergy should definitely find time to read and ponder. Will be doing another read starting next week to further reflect on interpretation. Received as winner on Goodreads which does not influence my review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Den Slader

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

  10. 4 out of 5

    Neal

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Flores

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Stallings

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alex Bean

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Stopher

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  16. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melonie Kydd

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karen Klein

  22. 5 out of 5

    Irene

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kim Myers

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alesha

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gail

  31. 5 out of 5

    Katie Harder-schauer

  32. 4 out of 5

    Kim Hathorn

  33. 5 out of 5

    Daryl Moad

  34. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

  35. 4 out of 5

    Steve Sengele

  36. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Reader

  37. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Mick

  38. 4 out of 5

    Shep

  39. 5 out of 5

    Chad Grissom

  40. 5 out of 5

    ApuciKislanya

  41. 5 out of 5

    Jathaniel Cavitt

  42. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

  43. 4 out of 5

    Cliff

  44. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Tomes

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