Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 27:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmaat. Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004. 233 pp. $22.00.

This venturesome book offers a bold attempt to position Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians as a text uniquely suited to postmodern readers. The authors, inspired by the “allergic reaction to Paul’s kind of rhetoric” (p. 116) that sometimes takes place among people living in contemporary Western culture, engage their task in an aggressive and comprehensive manner. In their view the church in the West is deeply embedded in an empire of individualistic consumerism, fueled by global capitalism, and ruled by strict economic and militaristic control. This contemporary setting can be compared with the ancient Roman Empire, where centralized power once in the hands of the Emperor now resides in the offices of the World Bank and the IMF. The book is ultimately an “exercise in hermeneutics” (p. 226), and the authors employ a hermeneutic that stresses the need to hear the NT with OT ears and to see the biblical story as living in the face of empire.

The book consists of two sections, Truth Remixed and Praxis Remixed. The author’s foray into the territory of “truth” may be uncomfortable for more conservative readers, yet in an honest attempt at reconciling the dictates of Colossians with the concerns of postmodern readers they propose a “dialectical approach” to truth which contrasts the “binary opposition between ‘truth’ and ‘suspicion’” (p. 107). Rather than seeing these as irreconcilable, they are posited as conversation partners which function as necessary mechanisms for enlightenment. Further, the “truth” of Colossians is not found in its rhetorical claims but in the fruit that it bears in the life of a community who embraces it.

In the section Praxis Remixed the authors argue for the need for an alternative worldview and an ethic that challenges the prevailing mentality of corporate culture. They condemn the current cultural accommodation of the North American church and stress an ethic of succession that leads Christians to see themselves as distinct, part of the living expression of God’s story created to express the riches of Christ to the world. The authors make a thorough and cogent case for their reading of Colossians. At times they may be accused of stretching the text to make their point, even admitting at one point that their argument may be slightly oblique, but is in the text if “you have ears to hear.” This suggests that it demands a certain vantage point in order to see the text as they want the reader to see it (although this is true for most exegetical positions). Also, their hermeneutical approach relies heavily on setting the Colossian teachin...

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