When constructing the occasion in Col 2:16–17, the prevailing interpretation presumes that the Colossians were being criticized for noncompliance to dietary instructions and the Jewish calendar and that Paul disparages Jewish practices by identifying them as a “shadow” juxtaposed to the “substance” of Messiah. Through a broad survey of recent scholarship, New Testament texts, the Didache, and grammatical analysis, this study challenges traditional readings by changing the scenario: the Colossians were being criticized for living in accordance with the Jewish calendar.

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