I found myself echoing Pilate’s question when I saw this week’s prompt. It’s one of those words that I know I use all the time but what does it actually mean? I know it’s about facts and reality but surely it has much more depth than that? What I initially thought of as simple, solid, and graspable seems more amorphous than at first glance. I wanted to pin it down so I went back to my usual habit of investigating the word’s definition and etymology.
It turns out that there is more than one origin to the word. The English word comes from a shared root with ideas of fidelity and loyalty – hence the word ‘troth’. ‘True’ may even share a common root with ‘tree’ (please forgive the pun!) because it has this sense of ‘steadfast as an oak’. It links with the Latin words, ‘veritas’ and ‘verus’, meaning sincerity and agreement with facts. But there’s also a Greek word for truth, ‘aletheia’, which means revealing or bringing something that was hidden into the open.
Now those words of Jesus (where I realise I’ve always skimmed over the middle one in the list) make sense:
‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’
It’s not just a matter of His existence being an historical fact but this statement tells us of His faithfulness and dependability. It echoes with His other saying of being the Light of the World – for bringing light to dark places is how the hidden is revealed.
Truth is the way He lived His life. And He calls us to be and do the same.