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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Is the truth in you?

Today during the time for confession in our church liturgy, the worship leader quoted 1 John 1:8 to us:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (NRSV)
Almost all English translations have the wording "the truth is not in us." But what does that means? It is an accurate word-for-word translation from the Greek. But is it English? Would any fluent speaker of English, other than those familiar with Bible English, ever say that the truth is in someone, or, conversely, that the truth is not in someone? If not, what might they say that means the same thing?

I want the truth to be in me, but I want to be able to express that concept using a truly English translation equivalent.

Is the truth in you?


At Mon Jun 04, 06:34:00 AM, Blogger MissionalGirl said...

As long as the translation conveys the meaning/intent of the author, I have no problem with the truth being "in" me. I like the phrase because it paints a vivid word picture that illustrates the meaning. Would this work for other non-English translations? Probably not.

At Mon Jun 04, 08:42:00 AM, Blogger Gary Zimmerli said...

It just seems to me, Wayne, that there are concepts in the Bible that just will not be translated into our average, everyday English. Sometimes we need to let the text paint such a picture for us so we can understand. It's about stretching our minds a little.

We don't usually talk about the truth being "in" us. But I think it certainly gets the point across.

At Mon Jun 04, 09:40:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Yes, Missonalgirl and Gary, the concept can be understood with the traditional wording. But I believe that it is possible to translate any concept using grammatical, extant, natural (but not colloquial), good quality English. I don't believe that we need to use artificial English even though it may be difficult to find natural translation equivalents. The effort is worth it, IMO. It helps create the sense that God can communicate in any language fluently, using the syntax and lexicons of those languages naturally.

I do understand what you are each saying and I respect it. It's a common belief. Mine is a belief also. I cannot prove it.

At Mon Jun 04, 10:09:00 AM, Blogger Bob MacDonald said...

I just happen to be looking at - an undermining of our over-emphasis on 'the right words' - it's a very good read. The truth is me? - if the truth is in me I will acknowledge as Moses does in Psalm 90 how decrepit I become in my 3 score years and 10, pride, labour, and trouble, 'cut off soon and we flutter away'. The truth in me acknowledges my sin but then, as Psalm 90 does, also acknowledges the habitation and the beauty of the LORD our God who delights to prosper the work of our own hands.

At Wed Jun 06, 04:20:00 PM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Given the meaning of ἀλήθεια I would probably translate the entire clause as "we have no integrity."

The Greek's concept of ἀλήθεια had more to do with experiential truth than it did with the separation we make between theory and practice.

The sense of 'integrity' comes out when the light shines on a person's life. If you shine the light on a person's life and they still try to claim sinlessness, well, they have no integrity at all.

At Sat Jun 09, 06:33:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

This is how I expressed this verse in "The Better Life Bible":

"We’re not being honest when we claim to follow God’s advice but continue living a self-centered life."


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