May 21, 2009

your Word is Truth

The NRSV translates John 17:17 as "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."

The original manuscript of John's Gospel had no punctuation and no capitalization; it barely had spacing.  And so, much of what is done to make it fit our sentance, paragraph, chapter, verse paradigm is guess work.  I'm wondering this week if John might have meant one thing, while the translaters read another.

What if John 17:17 actually read, "Sanctify them in the Truth, your Word is Truth."

Really a small typographical difference, one the casual reader might notice only to think, "hey there's a typo in that verse," but a difference that makes a huge impact on the High Priestly Prayer.  What this latter version says, is that Jesus is Truth with a capital "T".  There are many truths (lowercase "t") out there.  The big bang theory is a truth.  Evolution is a truth.  Creationism is a truth.  Intellegent design is a truth.  All, it seems, have a bit of the Truth within them, but all contextually obligated and all falling short of the fullness of the Truth.

Jesus, on the other hand, has the fullness of the Truth within him.  So much so that what he speaks is Truth.  Make them one - Truth.  Protect them from the world - Truth.  As you sent me, I am sending them - Truth.  These are not moral and religious obligations we are to try to live up to, they are Truth we are called to live into.

So, for example, instead of trite and polite ecumenical conversation as we try to be "one" church, why don't we hear each other with a spirit of charity looking for the bit of Truth that exists in the other, because we are one Church.  We do not create Truth, but live into it.  Those attempts we make at creating Truth by holding tightly onto truth lead only to pain, violence, pride, and sin.  Living into the Truth, however, well that leads to joy, glory, and holiness.

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