Monday, December 22, 2008

reH 'eb tu'lu' (repodcast)

vaD everything jatlhpu' Sum joH'a' ghaH DuH.
For everything spoken by God is possible. Luke 1.37

(click for podcast)

This is a Biblical verse, appointed for the fourth Sunday of Advent, that would delight a Vulcan - pondering the logic of it is a tricky business, particularly if you look into the Greek text and realize that it says literally "nothing spoken by God is impossible. (I wonder if the translators who put it in the positive were trying to avoid the dreaded "double negative?")

However you put it, it has potential to fuel long debates along the lines of "can God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?" And to do so would, I think, miss the point. The context for this passage is the angel Gabriel announcing the miraculous birth of Jesus to Mary. This is the angel's answer to Mary's objections:

vaD everything jatlhpu' Sum joH'a' ghaH DuH.
For everything spoken by God is possible. Luke 1.37

The key Greek word is adunateo ad-oo-nat-eh'-o - is only used twice in this form. It means "to be unable" (that is, impossible) and comes from the negative "a" plus "dunateo" to be able. The root of "dunateo" indicates power (to be able) and is heard in English words like "dynamic" or "dynamite." For the Klingon, I've used "DuH" (be possible). To say "impossible" it would be DuH plus the -Ha' suffix: DuHHa' - not-be-possible. So nothing - even a baby where none would or should be expected - nothing, God says is impossible.

It's worth noting, the other appearence of this word - when Jesus is explaining to the disciples
their failure in healing :

"He said to them, "Because of your unbelief. For most certainly I tell you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Mt 17:20

Not just for Mary - for all believers "impossible" is out of the vocabulary. What a challenge! And what a promise. It recalls a Klingon proverb: reH 'eb tu'lu' - there is always a chance. In other words, never give up.

I wish I could keep this foremost in my heart every day - and say "I believe, help my unbelief!" I need to write this in places that I'll see it every morning and every night: nothing God says is impossible! Oh, may we live by those words!

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