Are any words of Jesus better known than these: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32, KJV)? This ringing declaration holds a prominent place in Western thought, and has exerted a powerful and even prophetic influence upon the American way of life in the last two centuries. Incised on our hallowed U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., it expresses the best of our ambitions and ideals as a nation “under God.”
The view that “The truth shall set you free” seems entirely consistent with our Western disposition and Greco-Roman heritage. After all, did not the Greeks esteem truth above all else? “The True, the Good, the Beautiful”—were not these the triune object of Greek philosophy’s holy quest? But consider this: Jesus was not Socrates. He was a Jewish sage, not a Greek philosopher. His world, his values, his quest were intrinsically and unequivocally Hebraic, not Hellenistic, in character.