Torch, Spring 2002

the true neighbor was “the one who had mercy on him” and that he should “go and do likewise” (my emphasis). So, rather than relying on a mysterious newspaper or a divine list, we must apply the message of Leviticus 19:18 to anyone God puts in our path. If sometimes those “neighbors” choose to refuse our offers of assistance, that doesn’t diminish what we’ve tried to do or excuse us from future attempts to be neighbors. And perhaps sometimes we aren’t the ones who can supply the help that an individual really needs. But if the idea of “transforming culture” appears to be a task beyond our reach, we can still make an impact on others by striving to fulfill the biblical model of being useful neighbors to those around us. Endnotes Malamat, Abraham. “‘Love Your Neighbor as Yourself:’ What It Really Means.” Biblical Archaeology Review (July-August 1990), 50-51. the legal expert might have been hoping for a short, well- defined list of acceptable neighbors, Jesus emphasizes that our neighbor can be anyone. Finally, Malamat offers a clarification for the verb “love” in this verse. As he explains, rather than implying an inappropriate adoration of self-love (that is, “love your neighbor as [much as] yourself ”), the verb actually has more the connotation of “be of use to” or “be beneficial to” or “assist or help” your neighbor. (See Leviticus 19:34; I Kings 5:1; and II Chronicles 19:2 for other instances of this verb use.) Thus, according to Malamat, “the Bible is not commanding us to feel something—love—but to do something—to be useful or beneficial to help your neighbor.” The Good Samaritan did indeed make himself useful to the robbery victim. Even the legal expert couldn’t ignore Jesus’ point that Indeed, as Jesus’ story shows us, it was the foreign-born, despised Samaritan who helped the man in need, much to the chagrin of the legal expert whose custom wouldn’t even allow him to say the word “Samaritan” when Jesus asks him who the true neighbor was. Jesus’ point is that anyone can and should be a neighbor to anyone in need, regardless of their background or status. Malamat goes on to explain that the word for “like yourself ” can be explained in several ways, including “‘the one who resembles you’ because it refers to a person who, like yourself, has been created in the image of God.” This interpretation leaves no room for making distinctions between ourselves and others based on race, nationality, education, economic status, or any other dividing line. Your neighbor is, in essence, one like yourself in all the ways that matter—one who shares your humanity and your inherent value as an image bearer of God. So, even though 6 TORCH / Spring 2002 D r. Barbara Loach, professor of Spanish, has been at Cedarville University since 1978. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Cedarville, her master’s degrees at Bowling Green State University and Wright State University, and her doctorate at The Ohio State University. When she is not teaching Hispanic literature and culture, she enjoys writing, working on projects around the house, gardening, and traveling. She is also active in her church, where she teaches the toddlers’ Sunday school class, and in local community outreach programs that teach English to immigrants. What’s Wrong with “My Neighbor”? T