Does Colossians Teach Against Jewish Practices? (Colossians 2:16-17)

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Many Christians read Colossians 2.16-17 as validation that the Torah is obsolete, specifically the observance of Shabbat, Jewish festivals, and kosher laws. But is this Paul’s point? I don’t think so. In this video, I explain why through a careful analysis of the Greek text in its literary and historical context. I argue that Paul is exhorting the Colossians to not let ascetic critics who emphasize self-denial judge them for eating and drinking, celebrating Shabbat and Jewish festivals instead of fasting and afflicting themselves. He is telling the Colossians to not consider the judgment from the critics, but instead, they should consider the Messiah’s body, keeping their minds focused on Jesus and what he did for them. To translate the text, I rely on much of the arguments and translation decisions from Brian Allen’s article, “Removing an Arrow from the Supersessionist Quiver: A Post-Supersessionist Reading of Colossians 2.16-17,” Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 8 (2018) 127-146.
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References:
Brian Allen, “Removing an Arrow from the Supersessionist Quiver: A Post-Supersessionist Reading of Colossians 2.16-17,” Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 8 (2018) 127-146.
David Rudolph, “Was Paul Championing a New Freedom from — or End to — Jewish Law?” in Understanding the Jewish Roots of Christianity: Biblical, Theological, and Historical Essays on the Relationship between Christianity and Judaism, ed. Gerald R.McDermott (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2021), 33-50.
Troy Martin, By Philosophy and Empty Deceit: Colossians as Response to a Cynic Critique, JSNTSup 118 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1996).

Troy Martin, “But Let Everyone Discern the Body of Christ (Col 2.17),” JBL 114 (1995): 249–55.

Susannah Heschel, Introduction, in Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005), vii-xvi.

Daniel T. Lancaster, From Sabbath to Sabbath (Marshfield, MO: First Fruits of Zion, 2016).

David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996).

Sang-Won Aaron Son, “τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ in Colossians 2.17,” in History and Exegesis: New Testament Essays in Honor of Dr. E. Earle Ellis for His Eightieth Birthday, ed. Sang-Won Aaron Son (New York: T&T Clark, 2006), 222–38.

Shaye J. D. Cohen, The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties (Berkley: University of California Press, 1999).

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