Week #3: Jude, Colossians

Today and tomorrow, let’s read or re-read the hinge text, ‘Jude’ or ‘Judas’, the last of these wee letters, just before Revelation in our books. You might be tempted to tie it to ‘the Johns’ which precede it in your bible, but you’ll recognize that its connections are closer to ‘the Peters’ from Week 1, and you may recall that scholars see it as older than the Peters, which repeat a lot of it with adjustments easier to explain if 2 Peter is editing Jude than if Jude revises 2 Peter. Those are some wild preaching interpretations of Hebrew traditions, eh?

The rest of the week, we’ll read our way through Colossians, at a pace that will slow on Friday and Saturday, while you digest the Colossians vision, before we engage the Ephesians spin on the Christian story, which we will read next week.

As usual, reasonable and faithful people differ on whether Paul really wrote this text, despite the explicit opening claim. What a grand vision - but could it come from the same guy who wrote Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians? At least let’s finish the week with more clarity on the differences and unique offerings of this text.

The cosmic vision of Christ as the head, for the church and over the powers that be, is inspiring and encouraging for those of us who read devotionally and parochially. It is different if we read as episcopal bureaucrats trying to share this ‘headship’, or if we read as theological academics risking the very sins of sophisticated theoretical constructs opposed by the writer.

We can learn the lists and catalogues this week, as piety exercises, about building our character and faithful habits. It need not be pietistic texts, but of course it can be reduced to that moralism.

We’ll end the week by revisiting the issues of patriarchy and misogyny, as another of these texts tells wives and slaves to ‘suck it up’ obediently.

Let’s relax on the Sabbath Saturday, toying with the last half of chapter 4 and its recitals of people, a lot like the end of Romans. Doesn’t that feel a lot like ‘church bingo’, the game of finding mutual acquaintances in 2 or 3 degrees of separation rather than the secular 6?