The essence of Paul's message to the Colossians: what makes his message distinctively Christian
[S.l.] : [S.n.]
Radboud University, 22 maart 2018
Promotor : Watt, J.G. van der
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Werkplaats buitenpromovendi FFTR
SubjectCenter for Cognition, Culture and Language (CCCL)
In this study, we searched for the essence of Paul's message to the Colossians and asked what makes his message distinctively Christian. We performed this search by looking at the general flow of thought in the letter and then working back through it, verse by verse, to understand it in detail. We then pulled everything together and determined what the main points of Paul’s theology in this letter were. Finally, we considered each element and the effect it would have if it were removed from his theology. If Christianity (on Paul's view) would still stand without a given element, then we did not consider it to be essential. If his theology would fall apart were we to remove the element, then we considered it to be essential. As we searched for the main theological themes of the letter, we gave special consideration to the hymn in 1.15-20. This hymn forms the basis for much of the theology of the letter, and we found the themes in the rest of the letter being based on what is in the hymn. It is important to understand that while Paul may be explaining his theology in a broad way, he did not do it in a vacuum. The Colossians were interacting with another philosophy that Paul considered to be false. For our study, this had both positive and negative elements. It allowed us to see what points Paul chose to emphasize as he compared Christianity to the philosophy, which helped us find what he considered to be most essential to Christianity. However, because he was comparing Christianity to the philosophy, we also had to consider that his explanation of Christianity may look somewhat different as as result. This was something we had to take into account. After conducting our study, we found that the central themes of the letter were the person and work of Christ, beliefs and actions, the Christian life, and revelation and renewal. In these main themes, we found seven elements that we needed to consider for possible distinctive elements of Paul's Christianity. The four elements that we deemed to be essential to Paul’s Christianity are 1) God, 2) Christ, 3) creation, and 4) man (though each requires further explanation). When these elements are combined (along with their explanations), we found that we are looking at a story - the story of God and man. From the creation of the world to its renewal, humanity exists in relation to God. And, according to Paul, the only way humans can exist in proper relation to God is through Christ.
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- Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies 
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