Paul, Imperial Situation, and Visualization in the Epistle to the Colossians Aphrodisias Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. “Empire is materializing before our very eyes. Over the past several decades, as colonial regimes were overthrown and then precipitously after the Soviet barriers to the capitalist world market finally collapsed, we have witnessed an irresistible and irreversible globalization of economic and cultural exchanges.” (p. xi) “.... critical biblical study is always conducted in the ‘reality of empire -- an omnipresent, inescapable, and overwhelming sociopolitical reality.” Fernando Segovia, “Biblical Criticism and Postcolonial Studies,” p. 86. “Christianity was the product of empire.” Richard Horsley, p. 1. Paul’s Gospel was -political in orientation -exposed the violence of Roman rule -opposed the imperial cult -suffered persecution for its anti-Roman stance -assaulted Rome with a counter-imperial worship of God in Christ Pax Romana = Pax Americana Rhetorical Situation: “A complex of persons, events, objects, and relations presenting an actual or potential exigence which can be completely or partially removed if discourse, introduced into the situation, can so constrain human decision or action as to bring about the significant modification of the exigence.” Lloyd Bitzer, “The Rhetorical Situation,” Philosophy and Rhetoric 1 (1968): 1–18, p. 3 Imperial Situation: An imperial situation describes the use of evocative and vivid imagery drawn from imperial and/or civic discourse to represent listeners as participants in, beneficiaries of, or living the consequences arising from the reign of God and or/Christ represented as a universal rule. With the help of imperial language and imagery listeners are made to visualize themselves as actors on an imperial looking stage and in an imperial looking drama whose circumstances and outcomes could be witnessed and were experienced ubiquitously in imperial iconography, whether that took the form of coins, monuments, household furniture, frescos, games, civic liturgies, processions, placards, mimes, or any other of the multiple forms of visual media whose aim was to convince audiences of or offered them avenues to champion the benefits of Roman rule and the divinely sanctioned position of Rome and its allies as rulers of the world. Imperial language and imagery represented a shared vocabulary and mindset both writer and audience relied upon to communicate and understand religious claims of emergent Pauline Christianity. Its usage fulfilled a precondition of ekphrastic or vivid speech, that the ideal speaker was to place a picture of the declaimed upon topic before listeners’ eyes, and that that picture draw upon shared experience in order to achieve its full effect. Texts that Represent the Audiences of Colossians in an Imperial Situation Col. 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, Col. 1:2 ¶ To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colossae: ¶ Grace to you and peace from God our Father. Col. 1:3 ¶ We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, Col. 1:4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love which you have for all the saints, Col. 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel Col. 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing — so among yourselves, from the day you heard and understood the grace of God in truth, Col. 1:7 as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf Col. 1:8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. Col. 1:13 He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, Col. 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:15 ¶ He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; Col. 1:16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. Col. 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col. 1:18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. Col. 1:19 For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, Col. 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Col. 1:21 ¶ And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, Col. 1:22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, Col. 1:23 provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Col. 2:15 He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him (RSV). OR: Having stripped himself, he made a bold public exposure of the principalities and rulers, triumphing over them in it (the cross). --Roy Yates, “Colossians 2:15: Christ Triumphant,” NTS 37 (1991): 573–91. Col. 2:15 a)pekdusa&menoj ta_j a)rxa_j kai\ ta_j e0cousi/aj £ e0deigma&tisen e0n parrhsi/a|, qriambeu&saj au)tou_j e0n ™au)tw|~. Col. 3:5 ¶ Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Col. 3:6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. Col. 3:7 In these you once walked, when you lived in them. Col. 3:8 But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Col. 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices Col. 3:10 and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Col. 3:11 Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all. Col. 3:12 ¶ Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, Col. 3:13 forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Col. 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Col. 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.