verily |ˈverəlē| adverb archaic—truly; certainly
Verily is an archaic word. How many times do you hear it a week, a month, a year?—probably never. When I first became a Christian, I read through the Gospel of John in the New American Standard Version of the Bible (NASB) and was struck by Jesus’ use of the phrase “Truly, truly, I say to you…” over and over again. Every time Jesus wanted to make a point he’d introduce it with that phrase. A little investigation revealed that in the King James Version, “verily” is used instead of “truly.”
So what does “truly” or “verily” mean? Here’s one definition from the notes in the English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible: Truly, truly, I say to you is a solemn affirmation stressing the authoritative nature and importance of Jesus ‘pronouncements. The expression is found 25 times in this Gospel. The New International Version (NIV) translates the expression, “I tell you the truth” which is probably closer to the actual meaning, but not merely as poetic as “Truly, truly.” I switched to the NIV when it came out, but missed “truly, truly” so imagine my delight when I discovered that the ESV used “truly, truly.”
Of course, as I discussed in yesterday’s entry, truth is not a popular topic in our culture—or at least absolute truth. It’s okay to affirm that your truth is okay for you and mine is okay for me, but just try to claim that there is absolute truth and you’re suddenly as archaic as the word “verily”—but, when Jesus, the Son of the Lord God, says “this is the truth,” then it is absolute truth.