I got a lot of requests for the free books and I will fill them in the order they arrived. However, I am in Seattle and the books are in Florida so you will have to wait until I return. But they will arrive. Thanks for your interest.
Archive for March 22nd, 2012
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations; knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint . . . Romans 5:3-5 NASB
Does not disappoint – Have you ever been disappointed? It would be hard to believe you were human if you’d never experienced disappointment. You and I both know exactly what that feels like. Some expectation does not come to pass. Deflation, sadness, despondency, disgruntlement or dissatisfaction emerge in the wake of disappointment. Now I want you to think about these words. What do they describe? Aren’t they focused on our inner psychological state? They describe our feelings. That’s the picture we get from the NASB’s translation of the Greek verb kataischyno. But this requires a shift in paradigms. Let’s take a second look at what this word means from Paul’s rabbinic point of view.
Bultmann remarks, “The main point of aischyne is not ‘feeling of shame’ but ‘disgrace,’ i.e. the shame brought by divine judgment.” Paul puts emphasis on this word by adding kata as a kind of exclamation point. In other words, Paul is not writing about how you feel. He is writing about the public humiliation of claiming something that turns out not to be true. As is typical of the difference between the Greek mindset and the Hebrew view of the world, Hebrew focuses attention of the impact and results in the community, not in the inner life of the individual. The NASB hides this change in paradigm from us by choosing a translation that moves the focus to our feelings. We would have been better served by the translation, “will not be put to shame.”
Once more we see that Hebrew thought moves us out of the world of the individual man and into the world experienced in public. Hebrew’s phenomenological orientation forces us to evaluate the message of the good news from the perspective of what it looks like to the world at large. Faith is never my personal belief. That is the Greek way. In Hebrew thought, my claims about God always involve testability in the community. If they do not come true, I am shamed and so is God.
Paul’s comment reminds us of the second commandment. “You shall not use the name of the Lord in vain,” is the way we usually read this. Traditionally we have been taught that this is the prohibition against swearing. Of course, a lot of words that would never have been found in a Hebrew lexicon are now considered swearing. But the second commandment isn’t about “hell” and “damn.” It is about attaching God’s name to one of my claims as a way of endorsing what I say. It is like using God’s name to back up my statement. What happens when my statement turns out to be false? God’s name is shamed. God is humiliated by my reckless attempt to bolster what I say.
Paul speaks as a rabbi. He tells us that our hope (the trust we have in God’s care for His community) will not be put to shame. It will come to pass. How do we know this? Because we feel the Spirit in our lives? No! We know it because Yeshua rose from the grave. We know it because something in the public arena occurred, something that can be investigated and will stand on the basis of the evidence. That’s why hope will not disappoint. And that’s the only reason why. It doesn’t matter how you feel about the claims of Scripture. I don’t care how you feel. And neither does God. What matters is what you do about these claims in the public arena. If you accept what God is doing with His people and you join Him, you will not be shamed. If you don’t, life will end as the biggest disappointment you have ever known.
Topical Index: shame, hope, disappoint, kataischyno, Romans 5:5
 R. Bultmann, aischyno in Little Kittel, p. 29