Nov 19, 2017

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Whenever in scripture –both the Hebrew and the New Testament –the word we translate as “truth” relies foundationally upon the Hebrew word “emeth” The Greek equivalent word is “alaytheia.”  “Emeth” is a very difficult word to translate into English, because it comes from a very different culture than ours. Most often when we translate this word from either Hebrew or Greek we mean veracity; but sometimes we mean fidelity i.e. faithfulness. “Amen” another Hebrew word is closely related to emeth; it affirms as a statement of truth in the phrase “so it is!” Here is an example of how emeth can be legitimately translated differently in English. The Psalmist wrote,

“I have spoken of your faithfulness [or your truth] and your salvation from the great congregation” (Ps. 40:10)

Interestingly, the symbol that best expresses the meaning of emeth is the rock. You can build on rock. You can rely on rock as a secure foundation for your existence. “Emeth” in scripture signifies the ultimate in reliability. It means fundamental truth upon which you can build your life reliably. The important thing to realise here is that “emeth” comes as close as any concept can come to embracing the reality of the unconditional love of God for us. This, God’s free gift to us, is everlasting!

In the New Testament “alaytheia” is simply substituted for “emeth” Consider these interesting translations of major NT verses:

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth [or your word epitomises faithfulness].” (John 17:17); Pilate said to Jesus: “What is Truth?” (John 18:38)

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some of the fundamental truths that you rely upon?
  2. To whom or to what are you faithful?
  3. In this modern society is the old virtue of fidelity still in your top 10?
  4. Have you tried reading more than one English version of a Bible passage in order to better get the real meaning of the passage? If you have tried this, has it made a difference to your understanding?
  5. Do you read the Bible with others and share your understanding of what the passages mean? If so, do you find the group-consensus improves your understanding?
  6. In Hamlet Polonius said “To thy own self be true.” What do you think he meant?
  7. The word “emeth” is symbolized by the rock. Perhaps you have heard Christy Nockles’ song “Jesus, rock of ages?” Who is the rock in your life? Is Jesus, that Rock?
  8. How do you understand Jesus’ saying, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life?” (John 14:6)

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario Chaplain, The Kings Daughters and Sons, Fall, 2017

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