Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Dan Reid on the Pauline Strip
Dan Reid and I are both memorising Colossians (mind you I'm only memorising 1.15-20). In the course of the way, Dan posts on Col. 2.15 in talking about the Pauline strip. It comes down to whether you take the participle apekdusamenos as middle 'Christ stripped himself' or as deponent 'Christ stripped the powers'. Dan takes the former (as per most patristic authors) and I take the latter (with most modern commentators). Or we could put it this way with by noting J.B. Lightfoot: 'The powers of evil, which had clung like a Nessus robe about his humanity, were torn off and cast aside for ever. And the victory of mankind is involved in the victory of Christ. In his cross we too are divested of the poisonous and clinging garments of temptation and sin and death' (Colossians, 190). Or go with Stanley E. Porter: ‘Jesus Christ’s beneficial or participatory stripping of the defeated demonic enemies of their power makes better sense of the imagery’ (Stan Porter, Idioms, 69).
Note also how the Gospel of Truth echoes Col. 2.15 in this regard: ‘Having stripped himself of the perishable rags, he put on imperishability ... he passed through those who were stripped naked by oblivion’ A gnostic appropriation is of course no argument against the middle force of the participle. But I tend to think that the link of 2.15 with 1.12-14 and the military imagery of defeated hostile forces makes disarming or stripping the powers the most likely image to readers.