Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lincoln on the Christ Hymn of Col. 1.15-20

The NIB commentary series is good value and I particularly enjoy the "Reflections" section by most writers. Lincoln has this reflection on Col. 1.15-20:

"All the talk about the use of the hymn and its possible structure should remind us that the writer of Colossians has chosen to use the language of praise of Christ at a vital point in his message in order to reinforce the perspective he and his readers shared and to draw out its implication. It is an effective means of communication because it builds on religious experience - that of worship - and taps the religious emotions so frequently associated with songs of praise. From the perspective of Old Testament studies, Brueggemann has called attention to the power of doxology in the encounter with contemporary idolatries and ideologies. In its response to God, he claims, praise is also an assertion of an alternative world. The liturgy sings and proclaims that God reigns, disestablishing worldly powers and exposing their claims to ultimacy and control. Much the same can be said of the hymn in praise of Christ in Colossians. Its doxological language reinforces for its readers the alternative vision of the Pauline gospel in which Christ is supreme over the cosmos over all powers and has dealt with their disintegrating threat threat through his work of reconciliation. The language of worship still has both educative and affective force. Theological reflection and preaching would do well, therefore, to learn to employ the sources of traditional and contemporary hymns and poetry and to include a rhetoric of devotion in its repertoire in the attempt to instruct, to move, and to motivate congregations to live out of the alternative world of gospel values, where the crucified and risen Christ is cosmic Lord" (p. 611).

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