Our study of Philemon is now history. My written rehashing of some important things that grew out of the study is also now past. Time to move on! As our study of Colossians gets seriously underway – we’ve now read the text aloud twice and have discussed some situational factors that may play into the construction of the letter – I wonder what’s ahead.
In the other two study series (Mark and Philemon), we have enjoyed substantial, trusted material to draw on. Now, with Colossians, we are more “on our own.” To be frank, it feels a little early to be setting off without the same brand of compass, but we’ll trust that God will use patterns with which we’re now more familiar to guide us hermeneutically.
There are a few things I “know,” based on life experience and prior study. For instance, because of a relatively longstanding acquaintance with, and attention, to diction and pronunciation in various languages, I feel rather certain that the way Brett Favre’s name is pronounced is a careless corruption of the French. Mere celebrity and a few years of paparazzi do not a new pronunciation guide make. And don’t get me started on the pronunciation and misspelling of “sherbet.”
Oh, I know, you can never tell how English words will be pronounced. There are so many ways to pronounce the letter combination “ough” that we Englishers ought to know how rough it can be as we hiccough through it all. See (this amusing poem for more fun-poking.) Pushing aside the inconsistencies of what Howard L. Chace has dubbed the Anguish Languish, and the plenitude of which Richard Lederer has also parlayed into newspaper columns and books such as Anguished English, let me acknowledge this: the adulteration of clear principles and institutions of Christianity will be infinitely more significant than the oddities, vicissitudes, and errors of English pronunciation and usage. Yet, just as the likes of Lederer can say a lot of things with relative certainty because of his history in studying English and other languages, because of a longstanding “conversation” with God’s literature, there are some things I can be relatively sure about. Some things do seem clear.
Knowledge puffs up, Paul famously said in his 2nd letter (1st canonical one—see reference in 1 Cor. 5:9) to the messed-up Corinthians. It doesn’t matter whether one merely thinks he knows, or actually knows. Either way, knowledge can get him into trouble. I do know this. So, as we proceed into Colossians, and as I prepare and lead, I publicly confess awareness of these things:
- the apparent surety of insight gained from long-term experience
- the great likelihood that human inadequacy will set my judgment off course and my insight askew
It is my desire to uncover God’s message conveyed through Paul in this letter, throwing off any prejudices that may hinder the ascertainment of said message, all the while utilizing any insight gained previously, toward a fuller, more apt understanding of this letter in its original historical, spiritual, and literary context. It is then (and only then) my desire to apply the message to the current day.
I, Brian Casey, am typing this with my own keyboard on Sunday morning, January 23, 2010. I type this for my own sake, for the sake of those in the group that may read this, and for my small corner of the blogosphere (in no particular order)—that we all may be reminded of the need to be humble as we approach scripture.
Father God, because of the One and Only Son through Whom the cosmos was created, and because of our desire to be wrapped up in the called-out family of believers of which He is Head, help me/us to see what you want us to see in Colossians. Please work clearly and influentially in this study of an important piece of communication, written as Your Kingdom spread in the 1st century.
 Col. 4:18; 1 Cor. 16:21; Gal. 6:11; 2 Thess. 3:17