Bags of Bran


Strange, Strange Colossians
June 30, 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Biography

The book of Colossians simply doesn’t click for me. The background stuff is bewildering. What on earth was going on there?

I ran across a bizarre passage in the Testament of Solomon, an occultish Jewish document that was very likely extant in Paul’s day, while I was doing some research in Colossians.

72. And I commanded another demon to come before me. And there came before my face thirty-six spirits, their heads shapeless like dogs, but in themselves they were human in form; with faces of asses, faces of oxen, and faces of birds. And I Solomon, on hearing and seeing them, wondered, and I asked them and said: “Who are you?” But they, of one accord with one voice, said1: “We are the thirty-six elements, the world-rulers 2 of this darkness. But, O King Solomon, thou wilt not wrong us nor imprison us, nor lay command on us; but since the Lord God has given thee authority over every spirit, in the air, and on the earth, and under the earth, therefore do we also present ourselves before thee like the other spirits, from ram and bull, from [35] both twin and crab, lion and virgin, scales and scorpion, archer, goat-horned, water-pourer, and fish.

The bold text is what is so interesting. The word here rendered “elements” is the same word Paul uses in Colossians 2:8, translated “elementary principles,” and I think Paul is using it the same way.

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