BDAG: LOVE in John 21:15-17
wleman at mcn.net
Wed Jan 17 21:58:33 EST 2001
David McKay said:
> Just looked up AGAPAW and FILEW in my new BDAG.
> In the article on FILEW, we read: [page 1056, column 2 section 1a]
> Some think that here FILEW seems to be = to AGAPAW, see the literature
> there, pro and con, but a more intimate relationship may be implied [by
> FILEW]; one can extend "love" in general, but close friendship is limited.
Yesterday I noted that Nida (and his co-author de Waard, in their book From
One Language To Another: Functional Equivalence in Bible Translating,
Nelson, 1986, out of print), page 162 says:
"As already implied in the discussions of [meaning] range, most
dictionaries fail to provide sufficient information about differences of
range and therefore possible differences of meaning. The issue of range
becomes particularly acute in connection the Greek terms AGAPAW and FILEW.
Many persons have assumed that AGAPAQ relates only to love of God (whether
people's love for God or God's love for people) and the FILEW refers to
human love. An examination of the various contexts in the New Testament,
however, indicates quite clearly that this is not the case. Both types of
love are expressed by both terms. Both AGAPAW and FILEW are also used of
loving unworthy objects. For example, AGAPAW occurs in relation to
"unrighteous gain" (2 Pet. 2:at) and "the world" (1 John 2:15), while FILEW
occurs in connection with "a place of honor" (Matt. 23:6) and "to be greeted
with respect in the marketplace" (Luke 20:46).
FILEW is also used as a symbol of personal affection, though in Matthew
26:48 it is hypocritical in the meaning of "to kiss." One very important
distinction in range between AGAPAQ and FILEW is the fact that AGAPAW can be
commanded, but FILEW is never used in the imperative sense of commanding a
person to love someone else. A careful investigation of the total ranges of
these terms woujld seem to indicate that AGAPAW refers to a deep
appreciation of the worth and the value of a person or an activity, while
FILEW indictes a measure of affection based upon association. This does not
mean, however, that in each and every context these distinctions are to be
maintained. For example, in John 21 the shift from one to another of these
verbs appears to be primarily a mater of rhetorical variation rather than of
significant contrast in designtive meaning."
I'm sure much of what Nida and de Waard say here repeats what has already
been said about AGAPAW and FILEW on this list, but I thought it would still
be interesting to quote them, since they are such good students of language
around the world, and, especially of tranferring the language of the Bible
to languages around the world. This brings a unique perspective to our
discussions of meaning distinctions.
Best wishes, David,
Bible translation site: http://www.geocities.com/bible_translation/
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