I’ve said a number of times that intellectual life affords very few thrills that equal the feeling that a claim you’re inclined to doubt, one that contradicts what you’re pretty sure to be right — when such a claim’s arguments and evidence convince you that you had been wrong, and that this claim has a stronger case. It’s taken up my whole work day, but I’ve been revelling in that feeling in connection with the verb diakrinomai in James 1:6. It’s conventionally treated as meaning “doubt,” but Peter Spitaler’s article in Novum Testamentum 49 (2007) pretty much blows that interpretive habit out of the water.
Now, I had been dissatisfied with “doubt” myself, though I had tentatively opted for “hesitate,” another option that Spitaler rejects. I’m not as sure of his criticism of “hesitate” as I am of his devastatingly careful exposé of “doubt” — but, happily, I think I’m onto an even more satisfactory alternative. That feeling this morning, though, when “Nice work, but I’m unconvinced” turned into “Well, strike me pink! I think he’s right after all!”, that was pure delight.