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A Formal Analysis of Colossians

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Articulo teológico acerca de la Epistola a los Colosenses
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  A FORMAL ANALYSIS OF COLOSSIANS 1 15-20 JAMES M. ROBINSON EMORY UNIVERSITY W HEN A. Dieterich published his  Mithrasliturgie  in 1903, he called attention to the need for a scholarly doctrine of the forms of religious liturgy.'' R. Harris* publication of the Odes of Solomon in 1909 provided a large body of material for comparison, which has subsequently been used in detecting hymnic material in the NT. But it was the classical philologian Eduard Norden who first carried through in his  Agnostos Theos  (1913) a comparison of Hellenic, Jewish, and Christian liturgical forms, a work which has become basic to all further research in the  field.  He focused attention upon Col  1  12-20 (pp. 250-54), by finding here traditional forms of predication, Jewish periods, and a Stoic All-machtsformel, all types he had previously worked out. Ernst Loh-meyer 1  saw in Col 1 13-29 the order of a primitive Christian worship service, in 1 13-20 the hymnic development of the 'word of God,' of Pauline srcin. But he forced the passage into a rigid 3-7-3-7 pattern of lines which the text will not support, 2  and attempted unconvincingly to relate the outline of creation-recreation to the Jewish association of New Year's Day with the Day of Atonement. Martin Dibelius 3  revised his srcinal concept 4  of a christological excursus to that of a christo-logical confession 1  ' composed by Paul. But he made no progress beyond Norden in the formal analysis, concentrating instead upon the history of the concepts involved. Attention was focused upon the pre-Iiterary history of the passage as a whole by Ernst Käsemann, 5  who saw in 1 12-20 a primitive Christian baptismal liturgy, making use in 1 15-20 1  In his Meyer commentary (8th ed.) of 1930, only slightly revised in the 9th ed. of 1954. 9  Cf. e. g., the criticisms by Käsemann, p. 134 of the article cited in note 5 below. 3  He lived to complete in 1946-47 the 3rd ed. of his  HNT   commentary to Col. 1; the volume was completed and published in 1953 by Heinrich Greeven. * HNT (1st ed.;  1913). s Eine urchristliche Taufliturgie,  Festschrift  Rudolf   Bultmann  zum 65.  Geburtstag überreicht  (1949), pp. 133-48. 270  ROBINSON: A FORMAL ANALYSIS OF COL 1 15-20 271 of a hymn which he conjectured to be of Gnostic srcin. Subsequently four strophic arrangements of the passage have appeared, by Pierre Benoit, O. P., Charles Masson, G. Schule, and Christian Maurer, 6  and one may agree with Käsemann that the hymnic character of Col 1 15-20 is long since recognized and generally accepted, 7 However there is no consensus as to whether one has to do merely with traditional forms of expression used freely by the author of Colos-sians (so Norden), or whether one has to do with a liturgical unit composed prior to the composition of Colossians, comparable, e. g., to Phil 2 6-11 and 1 Tim 3 i6 (so esp. Käsemann). The general non-committal attitude on this point is closely related to the fact that no thorough formal analysis of the passage has been undertaken since Norden; one has only the few remarks of Lohmeyer and Masson in support of their  a priori  and quite impossible strophic presentations. The purpose of the present paper is to examine such formal traits as become visible from an analysis of the passage, to see if the existence of a liturgical unit composed prior to the composition of Colossians can be detected. The presentation of Norden is reproduced as a point of departure, including his spacing of corresponding words; for convenience of refer ence,  lines have been numbered : 6   Benoit,  La Sainte Bible traduite  en  français sous la direction de l'Ecole Biblique de  Jerusalem  (1949). Masson,  Comm. du NT,  Vol. X (1950). Schule, Liturgisches Gut im  Epheserbrief,  (Doctoral dissertation; Göttingen, 1952), p. 61. Maurer, Die Begründung der Herrschaft Christi über die Mächte nach Kolosser 1, 15-20,  Wort und  Dienst.  Jahrbuch der  Theologischen  Schule  Bethel,  η. F. IV (1955), 79󰀭93, esp. 82 f. Unfortunately none  of   these  strophic arrangements  is  accompanied  by a  formal  anal- ysis. 1  P. 133. Cf. e. g.: J.  Weiss,  Christus.  Die  Anfänge des Dogmas  (1909), pp. 45 f. A. Deissmann,  Paulus  (1911), p. 75. Gustav Harder,  Paulus und das Gebet  (1936), pp.  47-51. Jean Héring,  Le Royaume de Dieu et sa venue  (1937), p. 165. E. Stauffer,  NT   Theology  (German ed., 1945; English ed., 1956), p. 246. Günther Bornkamm, Das Bekenntnis im  Hebräerbrief,  ThBl,  1942, col. 63. Ernst Percy,  Die Probleme der  Kolosser- und Epheserbrief e  (1946), pp. 36 ff. Rudolf Bultmann,  Theology of the NT, I, 176, 178;  Π, 150, 156.  Gerhard  Delling,  Der   Gottesdienst   im NT   (1952), pp. 57, 87. Eduard  Schweizer,  Erniedrigung   und   Erhöhung  bei Jesus und seinen  Nachfolgern  (1955), pp.  102 f., 110 f., 129 f. The term hymn in distinction from the more general expression liturgical cannot be pressed: cf. Nils A. Dahl, Anamnesis,  ThSt,  I (1947), 82,  n. 1; and Schweizer,  op. cit.,  pp. 51 f.,  η. 221. Hans  Conzelmann  in his  inaugural address  at  Zürich  (Schw. Th. Umschau,  XXV [1955], 61-74) distinguishes prose confessions (e. g., Col 113-14) from songs (e. g., Col 115-20), using the term hymn only in the sense established by the form criticism of the OT psalms.  272 JOURNAL   OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 12  ...  βυχαρι,στουντβς   τω  πατρι τω  ικανωσαντι υµάς εις την   µερίδα  του κλήρου των   αγιωϊ> εν   τω φωτι 13  os  ερρυσατο ηµάς εκ της εξουσίας του   σκότους και   µετεστησεν eis την   ßaaikeiav  του υιού της α'γαττης αυτού 14  βν ω εχοµεν την απολύτρωσαν, την αφβσιν των αµαρτιών ίο  os  εστίν   €  ΐκων του θεού του αοράτου,  πρωτότοκος   πάσης κτίσεως   Α 1 16  οτι ev αυτω εκτισθη τα πάντα ev τοις ουρανοις και  βπι της *γης   Α 2 τα  ορατά και τα αόρατα   Α 3 είτε   θρόνοι είτε κυριότητες   Α 4 είτε   αρχαι είτε εξουσιαι.  Α 5 τα   πάντα δι' αυτού και   eis αυτορ  εκτισται   Α 6 17  και αυτός εστίν προ πάντων   Α 7 και   τα πάντα εν αυτω συνεστηκεν   Α 8 18  και αυτός εστίν η κεφαλή του   σώµατος   της εκκλησίας   Α 9 os  εστίν αρχή,  πρωτότοκος   εκ των νεκρών   Β 1  wa  ^ενηται εν   πασυ/  αυτο$  πρωτεύων   Β 2 19  οτι   β/ αυτω  ευδοκησεν παν το πλήρωµα κατοικησαι   Β 3 20  και δι  9   αυτού αποκατάλλαξαι τα πάντα εις αυτόν   Β 4 ειρηνοποιησας   δια  του αίµατος του σταυρού αυτού   Β 5 δ^' αυτού  είτε τα επι της   *γης   Β 6 είτε   τα εν τοις ουρανοις   Β 7  ROBINSON:  A   FORMAL   ANALYSIS OF COL 1 15󰀭20 273 12  ... giving thanks to the Father, The one qualifying us for a share in the inheritance of the saints in light, 13  Who delivered us from the authority of darkness,  And transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14  In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins: is  Who is   the image of the invisible God,  the first󰀭born  of all creation;  A 1 16  For in him were  created   all things in heaven and on earth,  A 2  Visible and invisible A 3  Whether thrones or dominions A 4 Or  principalities or authorities; A 5  All things through him  and  to him have been  created,  A 6 17  And he himself is   before all things, A 7  And  all things   in him have come together, A 8 is  And he himself is   the head of the body the church; A 9 Who is   the beginning, the  first󰀭born  from the dead, Β 1 That he might in all things himself be pre󰀭eminent; Β 2 io  For in him  was pleased all the fulness to dwell, Β 3 20  And  through him  to reconcile  all things to him  Β 4 Making  peace by the blood of his  cross,  Β 5 Through him  whether  those on  earth  Β 6 Or  those in  heaven.  Β 7
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