AMARTIA – ΑΜΑΡΤΙΑ
Other Forms of the Word:
Amartias: (singular) denoting that which derives from Amartia
Amartion: (plural) denoting that which derives from Amartiês
Common English translation: sin
Translated definition of the word:
AMARTIA refers to failure, mistakes, errors, faults and only metaphorically speaking disrespect or impiety. AMARTIA is normally a fault or an unjust deed carried out due to incorrect evaluation of some information, occurrences or possibilities. The manner in which the ancient Hellenes used the word AMARTIA bears no resemblance to the Modern Greek Orthodox usage of AMARTIA as the transgressions of the laws of God which constitute an irreversible and permanent evil. To the ancient Hellenes, AMARTIA is the result of a mistake in judgement and clearly as such is different to an atrocity or abomination. It is not a curse which burdens future generations like in the concept of ‘original sin’ or the ‘sins of the fore-Fathers’.Speusippos determines AMARTIA to be carelessness, a mistake, an error, or a deed not participating in the common rationality of the universe, i.e. natural laws. Demokritos sites the reason for AMARTIA as being ignorance of the greater good and Socrates probably meant the same when he said; ‘no one is purposefully bad‘.
The way my Greek Orthodox father explained the concept of “sin” to me as a child was by using the Greek word “amartia”. He translated it literally as “to miss the mark” and in so doing was closer to the ancient definition of the word than perhaps he knew. We all miss our mark from time to time in life because we are NOT the Undying Gods who always hit theirs. Nobody INTENDS to miss the mark on a regular basis but it sometimes seems that we all do. I know I do on the occasions where I allow myself to not focus on what I am supposed to be doing and instead get distracted. It is easy to do and that may be why the Hellenes used this word to encompass the idea of faults (and by inclusion, sin).
We sometimes miss the mark when we do not see the situations that we are in correctly and act on incomplete information. We sometimes miss the mark when we allow emotion to overwhelm logic or logic to overwhelm emotion instead of maintaining the balance between them. We miss the mark the most when we allow opportunities to do the right thing slip through our fingers because we are too lazy to get up and act at the time of the opportunity.
I could go on and on, but instead I leave the reader with the question “Have I missed the mark today?”