By sergign

The common statement that “God is truth” is deceptively simple, but it contains layers of relational meanings.

Indic languages present God as Truth-Grace-Beauty (satyam-civam-sundaram) or Truth-Wisdom=Bliss (Satcitānanda).

These affirmative statements are primarily otherworldly as synonyms for God as the Absolute, the Reality, and the like.

There is no simple answer to how these epithets impact human moral behaviour and relationships.

The Hebrew Bible presents YHWH-God as Elohim-God in truth (emat, ‘faithful, true’, Jeremiah 10:10).

The Lord Jesus Christ asserted himself as the truth (alētheia, John 14:6) and declared that truth will set a person free from all falsehood (John 8:32).

Biblical scholars do not yet fully know the etymological meaning for the Hebrew words that imply truth (āmen, ‘verily, truthfully’ as in Deuteronomy 27:15–26).

Elohim-God is āmen (Isaiah 65:16 see also Revelation 3:14). They confine their scholarship to examining the ancient languages of the Mediterranean region.

If they would extend the scope of their research to south Indian languages like Tamil, they would find more clarifications.

For example, the colloquial Tamil words for truth are ām (an affirmative expression), āmām (another affirmative expression, indeed yes’).

These are closer to the Hebrew words such as āman (to be ‘faithful, truthful’), emunāh (‘faithfulness’), āmānā (sure) and the like.

A special aspect of these Hebrew words is their linguistic association with pillar (ōmnāh) and āmōn (‘architect, skilled worker’); they indicate that human relationships with God and fellow humans should be as solid and reliable as the pillar and as creative as a master builder.

South Indian languages have other metaphorical words for truth: for example, the Tamil express truth at least in three different ways: uṇmai (‘that which is inside, the soul, sincerity, honesty, truthfulness, and the like.

The verb uṇ stands for ‘to eat’. Figuratively, it can mean any material or non-material thing which a person absorbs.

The second noun is vāymai (‘being ever truthful, never-failing); remarkably, this word is associated with vāy (‘mouth’) and vāyttal (‘to succeed, gain, appropriately happen, etc.).

The third noun is mey (the material body, truth, trust, opposite of falsehood). These three words are not abstract, but practical and easily understandable.

They indicate not only the disposition of a person, but also their moral and ethical behaviour.

They indicate that a truth is real, genuine, natural, fundamental, and therefore reliable. They fit well to express the biblical doxology such as the following: Let all people say āmen because YHWH-God is worthy of our praise (Psalm 41:13 and 106:48).

Nowadays, postmodernists either relativize or reject truth claims because they believe that truth in religious and social realms (but not in terms of money, time, scientific and technological terms) are harmful; they assert that no one would know the truth as it is; but people can grasp the various shades of truth from their perspectives just like the parable of blind men, who tried to understand what an elephant looked like.

They touched various parts of an elephant and claimed that they knew what an elephant was. It is true that the current human understanding of God, whom the Bible reveals, is partial and incomplete (1 Corinthians 13:9).

This need not be the final stage of human perception of God; people can grow into the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

Truth as disposition and actions can aid in our journey of discovering the fullness of God, who in essence is Truth, and there is no lie (pseudos) in God (1 John 2:21). 

Prof. Dr. Daniel Jeyaraj is an accomplished church historian and currently serves as the Academic Dean at Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life.