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18 Feb 2016 Articles No comments

Unless You Become Like Little Children

As a youngster, I thought going to church was a mystical adventure filled with a strange language, bells and incense. We knew we were in a sacred place because …

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10 Tips for making the best out of the Lent Season

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Is Purgatory in the Bible?

This may well be the most common single question I receive concerning our Catholic Faith whether it be at conferences, via email, snail mail, or any other venue…

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Is it okay for Catholics to use yoga as part of an exercise program?

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What is the correct thing to do when the precious blood is spilled during distribution of the Eucharist?

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13 Aug 2016 Q&A No comments

Why would my parents complain about our plans to have a medieval-themed nuptial Mass?

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07 Oct 2015 Asia-Pacific News No comments

Religious vocations decrease in China following Government restrictions

Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are concerned about the growing decline Catholic female religious orders have expanded rapidly in China over the pa…

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What exactly does amen mean?

Full Question

What exactly does amen mean?


Amen is a word that came to English from Latin, which got it from Greek, which got it from Aramaic, which got it from Hebrew (technically, Aramaic may have had it anyway, before it became the standard language of the Jewish people a few centuries before the time of Christ).

It is difficult to translate this word directly, which is often a reason that words are borrowed from other languages (i.e., if there’s no direct way to translate this foreign word, just borrow it).

The specific Hebrew word amen (’amen ) appears to be derived from a related verb–’aman , which means “he confirmed, supported, or upheld.” This verb is also associated with the Hebrew word for truth (’emet ), which carries the idea of certainty or dependability (i.e., that which is true is that which is certain or dependable).

’Amen itself is an interjection used to agree with, affirm, approve, or emphasize something else that has been said. Thus when Jesus begins certain sayings by declaring “Amen, amen, I say to you . . . ” various Bible translations often render the “amen, amen” different ways. Because of the word’s association with the Hebrew terms for truth, the double amen is sometimes rendered “truly, truly” or “verily, verily.” Because of its association with the Hebrew terms for confirmation or dependability, one might also translate it “certainly, certainly” or “most assuredly.”

When one says “amen” in response to a prayer, it serves as an affirmation of agreement with the content of the prayer (cf. 1 Cor 14:16)—in which case it is sometimes translated “So be it” (cf. CCC 2856)—or as an expression of faith that God will hear and act on the prayer.

Bottom line: Amen is an interjection associated with the Hebrew words for truth and dependability, it conveys the idea of agreement or emphasis, and its meaning can be translated different ways depending on the context.


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