Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nicoll on Metanoia

In the The Mark (see prior post), Nicoll discusses the term metanoia, a crucial term in the NT. Its most common translation, rooted in the KJV, is “repentance’. However, as Nicoll points out, “repentance”, which has connotations more in the nature of regret or remorse, does not accurately reflect the Greek term metanoia. Instead, “change of mind” would prove more accurate. I have read some who suggest “change of heart”, but as Nicoll argues throughout this work, the key to understanding Jesus’ message lies in gaining a whole new outlook, not gaining an emotional feel. Nicoll riffs on a passage from Luke to show that a whole different understanding of what must motivate us. For instance, he argues that God’s will, however we may understand “God”, is not done on earth (thus the supplication on the Lord’s Prayer), and that earthly calamities do not reflect God’s judgments or actions, as so many presumptuous persons are quick to suggest (e.g., Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson after the 9/11 attacks). Citing Luke 13:4-5, he notes that Jesus does not assume—indeed contradicts—the suggestions that those who lost their lives in a natural disaster somehow “deserved it”. Instead, Jesus seems to suggest that we should instead be concerned about changing ourselves (metanoia) and not trying to discern on earth what we cannot know or seek what cannot be found here (ultimate meaning). A very thoughtful chapter, to which I cannot give full appreciation here. More to come!

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