A little advise, please!

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Oct 15 20:08:44 EDT 2001

At 4:14 PM -0400 10/15/01, Ted Mann wrote:
>Greetings Comrades:
>I'm not trying to re-ignite the AGAPAW / FILEW thread

Gott sei Dank! It was a nice discussion, but I think it was the sort of
discussion that left those convinced of a significant difference and those
not convinced of any significant difference (of which I admit I am one) not
very likely to be moved by each other's arguments.

(which I regret not
>following very closely), but I wonder if someone would fine-tune a remark I
>made to a friend, which happened to be about the distinction popularly drawn
>between these terms.  I'm interested in the  principle behind my statement,
>not the terms themselves.  My friend made the usual assertion about AGAPAW
>referring to a special kind of love, reserved primarily for God, as distinct
>from FILEW, which only implies fondness. I remarked that I doubted the
>meanings in any given instance have much to do with the terms themselves,
>but rather with the context in which they appear.  I pointed out the
>following four verses (in addition to others), and suggested that, in these
>instances, the exact meanings of FILEW or AGAPAW depend on who is doing the
>loving, and what is begin loved; that is, that either term, under similar
>conditions, can mean pretty much the same thing.  Do I need to eat crow
>within hearing of my friend?
>1. Lk.6:32  "And if you love (AGAPATE) those who love (AGAPWNTAS) you, what
>credit is that to you?  For even sinners love (AGAPWSIN) those who love
>(AGAPWNTAS) them."
>2. Lk. 11:43  "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love (AGAPATE) the front seats
>in the synagogues. "
>3. Jn. 5:20  "For the Father loves (FILEI) the Son. " [Is the Father only
>fond of the Son?]
>4. Jn. 20:2  "And so she [Mary] ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the
>other disciple whom Jesus
>loved (EFILEI).. " [Was Jesus only fond of John?]
>I can't decide if this question is OK for b-Greek; if not, anyone kind
>enough to respond might want to do so off-list.

Your statement is not altogether clear to me; I THINK it means that usage
of FILEW or AGAPAW in GNT passages reveals less of the semantic force of
the verb used than of the context in which it appears. I think it would be
clearer to say that passages can be shown wherein each of the verbs is
shown to have the sense that some want to deny it can have in that context;
that is to say: I think the verses you have cited above are sufficient to
embarrass anyone who wants to argue that AGAPAW necessarily indicates a
higher kind of love than does FILEW. The two verbs may extend beyond each
other's semantic range, but they overlap to such an extent that
differentiation is not an easy matter.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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