Colossians (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible)
Christopher R. Seitz
Brazos Press, 2014
240 pp., $29.99
Theological Seitz in Paul's Letter to the Colossians
The series Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible has as its goal an interpretation of the Old and New Testaments according to an overall theological understanding, as opposed to piecemeal exegesis based on supposedly unprejudiced historical criticism and philology. Where is this understanding, this "rule of faith," to be found? Primarily in the Nicene creed. And where are examples of biblical interpretation based on the rule of faith to be found? Primarily in what the Series Preface calls "the great cloud of premodern interpreters," though the series aims to add to their number.
It is said that the need for a rule of faith to guide interpretation arises out of the Bible as "vast, heterogeneous, full of confusing passages and obscure words, and difficult to understand." So absent a rule of faith, the doctrine of Scripture's clarity suffers deeper-than-usual qualification. Yet not only is the content of this rule of faith admittedly a subject of debate. Even one and the same early church father Irenaeus used "terms and formulations" that "shift[ed]" from time to time and from circumstance to circumstance. Also questionable is the legitimacy of equating a "rule of faith" with a "creed." Nevertheless, says the series editor R. R. Reno, figures so diverse as Gregory the Great, Bonaventure, John Calvin, and Hans Urs von Balthasar (among many others) agree that the rule of faith includes at least "the covenant with Israel, the coming of Christ, [and] the gathering of the nations into the church." Put more specifically, "God the Father … sends his only begotten Son to die for us and for our salvation" and "raises the crucified Son in the power of the Holy Spirit so that the baptized may be joined in one body." Despite disagreements over details, then, and against the view that doctrine has encrusted the biblical text and thereby obscured its meaning, the ...