[B-Greek] MISEW in Lk 14:26

Aaron Marshall greekmeister1 at hotmail.com
Tue Oct 27 11:47:49 EDT 2009

 Hi Antonio,


First, let me say that I miss-typed...I was referring to the BDAG and mistakenly referred to it as the BAGD.  I will not respond to most of the rest of your post (though it is well written and argued), since at the very least I am not knowledgeable enough about Semitic languages to have a firm opinion about it.  I will say that for me its important to understsand what the word "meaning" means.  I am not a linguist, so this may be completely incorrect, but I differentiate between the denotative value of a word (how the lexicon defines it) and what it can possibly mean in a given context.  I tend to think that "hate" in Luke 14:26 is a figure of speech that connotes the idea of "loving less", but I don't believe that MISEW carries that denotative value.  Hence, MISEW does not mean "to love less", but Jesus (I think) used that word to mean something like that there.   All that to say, when I denied in my previous post that MISEW means "love less", I was making the point that nothing about the word itself in Jesus' statement would indicate that it means anything other than "to abhor, detest, hate."  We have to look at things like Jesus' overall teaching, his cultural and linguistic background, the context of the statement, etc. to come to a different meaning for MISEW. 


Aaron Marshall 

From: antoniolordelo at lycos.com
To: greekmeister1 at hotmail.com
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] MISEW in Lk 14:26
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2009 21:01:31 -0400

Hi Aaron Marshall,


Thank you very much for your advice against using Strong's overly. Well, i´d like to know if you share the thought that this verse has to do with the semitic meaning?


The Hebrew word referenced in Gen 29:31 (שנא) is rendered μισεω in the LXX.

Here is the semantic range of שנא, as presented by Holiday/Koehler-Baumgartner:

1. hate 

2. be unable (or unwilling) to put up with, slight one's wife Dt 22:13; Gn 29:31 

3. enemy The Hebrew word שנא and the Greek word μισεω both have semantic ranges that exceed that of the English word "hate".

Thus, in Genesis 29:31, the following versions render the Greek μισεω and Hebrew שנא by English words other than "hate":

NIV: "not loved" 

REB: "unloved" 

NRSV: "unloved 

NASB: "unloved" 
Admittedly, if the word “hate” in Luke 14:26 means what most twenty-first century Americans use the word to mean, then Jesus’ statement is a contradiction, unjust, and goes against decent family values. What anyone who studies the verse should quickly discover, however, is that the word translated “hate” does not always mean “to despise, detest, loathe, and abhor,” which are synonymous with the general use of the word “hate” in our modern culture. Instead, the word also can include the meaning “to love less.”

Atheist Dan Barker has disavowed such an explanation, saying, “Most Christians feel obligated to soften the face meaning of the word ‘hate’ to something like ‘love less than me,’ even though the Greek word miseo means ‘hate’ ” (1999, p. 158). Barker failed to explore, however, the legitimate times in the Bible (and in secular documents) where the word or its Hebrew equivalent is given the meaning “to love less,” and is not forced into a strict, uncompromising, literal usage of detest, loathe, or abhor.

The story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah perfectly illustrates the biblical use of this term “hate” in its meaning of “to love less.” To briefly summarize the story, Jacob loved Rachel, and agreed to work for her father Laban for seven years in order to marry her. At the end of the seven years, Laban tricked Jacob, and gave Leah to him as a wife. When Jacob discovered the deception, he was given Rachel as a wife, but was forced to work another seven years for her. In Genesis 29:30, the Bible says that “Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah.” Yet, in the next verse the Bible says, “And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb” (29:31, KJV). Jacob did not despise, detest, and treat Leah like an enemy, as in the modern use of the word “hate.” Instead, he simply loved Rachel more than he loved Leah.

Numerous Greek scholars have added their combined years of study to the discussion to testify that the word “hate” (miseo) in Luke 14:26 does not mean “an active abhorrence,” but means “to love less.” E.W. Bullinger, in his monumental work, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, described the word “hate” in Luke 14:26 as hyperbole. He rendered the word as meaning “does not esteem them less than me” (1968, p. 426). W.E. Vine, the eminent Greek scholar, said the word miseo could carry the meaning of “a relative preference for one thing over another.” He listed Luke 14:26 under this particular definition (1940, p. 198). Lastly, A.B. Bruce, in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, stated that “the practical meaning” of the word “hate” in this verse is “love less” (n.d., p. 575).

Add to all this the fact that, with His last few words, Jesus Christ showed honor to His mother, and made sure she had a provider (John 19:25-27). The simple meaning, then, of Jesus’ statement in Luke 14:26 is that a person must be willing to sever ties with his or her family if those ties hinder the person from following and obeying Christ. And blessed is the man who puts service to Jesus above all else.

Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith in Faith—From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).

Bruce, A.B. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Bullinger, E.W. (1968 reprint), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Vine, W.E. (1940), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell).

Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible [On-line], URL: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/1cor/index.html.
Best wishes,  		 	   		  

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