Original Research - Special Collection: A.G.van Aarde Festschrift

The socio-rhetorical force of ‘truth talk’ and lies: The case of 1 John

Dietmar Neufeld
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 67, No 1 | a941 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v67i1.941 | © 2011 Dietmar Neufeld | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 August 2010 | Published: 11 April 2011

About the author(s)

Dietmar Neufeld, Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, University of British Columbia, Canada Department of New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa, Canada


This article canvassed Greek and Roman sources for discussions concerning truth talk and lies. It has investigated what social historians and/or anthropologists are saying about truth talking and lying and has developed a model that will examine the issue of truth and lying in socio-religious terms as defined by the Graeco-Roman sources. The article tracked down the socio-rhetorical force of truth talk and lies, in terms of how they are strategically deployed to negotiate authority, to exert epistemic control, to define a personal and communal identity and to defend innovation in the midst of competing truth claims. It focused on the New Testament writing (1 John) and demonstrated that the author, in his desire to establish and defend his vision of truth, resorts to a style of truth talk endemic to the literary habits of Graeco-Roman antiquity. In so doing, the author established himself as a credible witness, set himself apart from those propounding falsehoods and, to some extent, distanced himself from the vision of truth propounded in the Gospel of John.


Anti-language; anti-society; literary mimicry; lie; truth


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