Colossians 1:24 and vicarious suffering in the Church

Steedman, Robin Anthony (2014). Colossians 1:24 and vicarious suffering in the Church. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Colossians 1:24 has throughout church history presented problems of interpretation. This thesis investigates the possibility that the author expresses a belief in vicarious suffering within the church, and begins with a thorough linguistic analysis of the text and vocabulary to produce a radical fresh translation which emphasises Paul’s ministry of suffering on the church’s behalf. Two chapters investigate the reception history of the passage, with particular emphasis on three periods: the Church Fathers, the Protestant Reformation, and the modern era. Following evaluation of the many interpretations, an excursus on attitudes to suffering in modern Western evangelical churches, and a discussion whether the passage applies only to Paul or is of universal Christian relevance, three key topics are investigated in depth: the 'woes of the Messiah' and related eschatological issues; attitudes to substitution in the ancient world; and the 'common life' or koinonia expressed in Pauline descriptions of the church. This study indicates the probability that the author and his first readers shared cultural and religious understandings which comfortably accommodated a belief in vicarious suffering. In conclusion, the theological implications of such a belief are discussed, and the consequent repercussions for pastoral care.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible


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