Colossians Remixed, by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat, is both a cultural and a textual commentary. They reveal how Paul’s message in the book of Colossians was deeply subversive to the Roman Empire. However, as so many other commentaries might, they don’t stop there. They continue by projecting what it might look like for that same message today.
They go about the difficult task of laying out what our contemporary empires might be and among other things, they set consumerism in their sights. They make suggestions about how we need to withdraw from our consumer culture in much the same way Christians in the first century almost had to withdraw to avoid the emperor worship that was all around them. For some, the book might go to far in this, and I felt myself feeling that at times. But how could they write it any differently? It was necessary for them to push the limits of these ideas in order to cause the reader to think, and in this reader at least, they were successful.
More than anything, I enjoyed the writing style. The book transitions between narrative, dialogue, prose, and poetry in different sections, along with some sections where Paul’s letter to Colossians is rewritten as he might have written it today. This is not your mama’s commentary, so don’t go expecting a verse by verse treatment. It is a new kind of commentary for a new era, and a model of how ancient text and contemporary culture should meet in any context where we hope to reveal the contents of the Scriptures.