There’s a whole lotta John 6 on the Internet about this time every year. There’s a whole lotta John 6 in Wednesday Sunday School, too. One of the key John 6 classroom verses reads:
“For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.” in the Douai-Rheims & KJV;
“For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” in the RSV;
“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” in the NIV;
and my preferred translation in the NAB, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”
I find the word “true” a bit more compelling than “real,” and way more compelling than “indeed”. Truth is simply a more moral, profound and comprehensive concept than the other two. I don’t see how real or indeed add anything to true; but they do take something away. St. Jerome must have agreed: his Vulgate reads, “Caro enim mea vere est cibus; et sanguis meus, vere est potus.” You know: truly. English uses that Latin-French -ver- root in veracity, aver, very, and of course, Jesus’ favorite, verily.
Uh-oh; now I’m curious about verse 55 in French…here we go:
“Car ma chair est vraiment une nourriture, et mon sang est vraiment un breuvage.” Yep, truly again.
And in Greek, the passage reads, “η γαρ σαρξ μου αληθως εστιν βρωσις και το αιμα μου αληθως εστιν ποσις,” which is Greek to me, but the keyword ἀληθῶς/ alithos also means truly. You know, like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when they give the Easter greeting: “Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christ is risen!” followed by the response, “Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη/ Alithos anesti/ Truly risen!”
Ἀληθῶς-alithos is the adverb form of ἀλήθεια-alitheia-truth. So for example, when Pilate spoke to Jesus, he asked him, “What is alitheia?” And Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, the alitheia, and the life.”
By the way, Alitheia is close to how Spaniards would pronounce Alicia, i.e., they lisp the s sound. Would Alicia/ Alice come from alitheia and mean Truth? Why, yes, it would. Now I wonder about Martha-Marcia…why yes, Martha is Greek from Aramaic (mistress, the feminine of master). See, languages ain’t so tough.
I know this doesn’t have to be the big deal for everyone else that it is to me. But in Catechism class, it’s good to be able to draw parallels among: Pharisees saying Jesus is true; St. John writing that God is true; Jesus saying he’s the Truth; Pilate looking right at the Truth and asking Him what is Truth; and Jesus flatly stating that his flesh is true food, his blood true drink.
Saying real or indeed in the last case takes the simple & straightforward and makes it complicated.
Is that fussy? Well, if your name were Alice, and you were to tell me what your name meant, what would you say?