Though resting a theological case on a linguistic "accident" would be a mistake, it is intriguing that the Hebrew word for "convert" is the same as the Hebrew word for "go apostate." The word in both cases is SHUB, "turn," which means "turn away" or "turn toward" or "turn back" in various contexts (used for apostasy in 1 Ki 9:6, for example).
A few hypotheses suggest themselves, which would have to be proven and filled out on other grounds:
1) Apostasy is as real as conversion.
2) Both apostasy and conversion are fundamentally matters of "orientation," the direction we turn our face, walk, bow (1 Ki 9:6 again) Ethis in contrast to a view of conversion grounded in the notion of "decision."
3) There may be some fruitful material for a study of apostasy in an examination of the use of "turn" with both God and man as subject. Yahweh "turns away" from the apostate who "turns" from him.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Thursday, October 07, 2004 at 06:40 PM
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