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Loving the Truth

July 2, 2011

My posting on scholarship and personal stakes drew some attention, and so I dare to make another foray into cognitive matters, this time with a quote from one of my favorites:  Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).  He died sadly before completing his grand project of a full defense of Christian faith, leaving only the several hundred “Pensees“, notes for that grand work.  But he had a native eloquence and a memorable way of expressing things.  Here’s one of my favorites (#739, citing the Penguin English translation by A. J. Krailsheimer):

“Truth is so obscured nowadays and lies so well established that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it.”

Loving truth as a means to know it: That’s a cognitive approach you don’t often hear about in university courses, but I think it’s terribly important.

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  1. Steve M. permalink

    This rendering is less equivocal: “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.” When I read the form of it that you used, I understood “lies” as a verb…

    • Here’s the French: “La vérité est si obscurcie en ce temps, et le mensonge si établi, qu’à moins que
      d’aimer la vérité, on ne saurait la connaître.” Formidable!

      • Steve M. permalink

        Perhaps a key to retaining the original menaing, the, is in the punctuation. The virgule is key, otherwise it might be understood that “truth… lies established”, and therefore is not threatened.

      • Une bonne idee!

  2. Good thoughts. Professor Tom Greggs, from the University of Chester, has been doing some writing recently along the lines of developing a “hermeneutics of agape” – I think it will resonate with Pascal’s thoughts here.

    • I’ve used that phrase myself since ca. 1996, having posed the basic notion in my inaugural lecture that year (subsequently published in Scottish Journal of Theology). I’d be interested to see Prof. Greggs’s thoughts when/where available.

  3. Agreed. Enough to want to live it. Peace, Eric.

  4. John permalink

    Professor Hurtado,

    Speaking of loving truth, what do you think about the recent investigations that have initially suggested that the “James brother of Jesus” ossuary may belong with the Talpiot ossuaries? The article is on The Bible and Interpretation website. I know there were several symposiums that largely discounted the potential for a connection between Jesus of Nazareth and the Talpiot “Jesus, son of Joseph” ossuary. However, does this change things at all if the James ossuary were positively linked to the Talpiot ossuaries?

    Thanks for your time.


    • So far as I can judge, it wouldn’t change much at all. The key thing is the integrity of the inscription, and at my last report this was still very much in doubt.

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