Faith and Truth: on the history of concepts

2016. № 3 (9), 377-389

Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences


The paper refers to the semantic interpretation of two Proto-Slavic words — *věra and *pravьda (including their cognates), that present a lot of similarities in terms of meaning and usage. Modern epistemological meanings of the words ‘faith’ and ‘truth’ are supposed to be a result of longstanding semantic derivational processes: *věra goes up to i.-e. root with the meaning ‘genuine, veridical’ and is a cognate of Lat. verum, Germ. wahr etc., whilst *pravьda derives from *pravъ that meant ‘direct’. Both words appear to be terms of the Ancient Slavic law with the meaning ‘agreement, alliance, obligation’ followed by further ‘law, determination, right’. Certain Slavic languages still keep both meanings — *pravьda in the juridical language and *věra in the language of the marriage terminology that derives to the language of the law.