ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν in John 21:15-17

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
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Stephen Carlson
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ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν in John 21:15-17

Post by Stephen Carlson » January 16th, 2017, 2:24 am

The interchange of two verbs for love, ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν, in John 21:15-17 has generated on the one hand a rash of bad exegeses proposing semantic differences between the terms (e.g., different kinds of love) and on the other hand claims that they are synonymous. In a recent article in Novum Testamentum, Lexicographer John A. L. Lee steps into the breach, arguing that, although both mean 'love,' there is a difference in formality between them, particularly in Peter's use of the more formal φιλεῖν in this context.

The cite is: John A. L. Lee, "The Puzzle of John 21:15-17: A Formality Solution," NovT 59 (2017): 27-30.

Here is the abstract:
Lee 2017:27 wrote:The alternation of the words for “love” in John 21:15-17 is a long-standing puzzle that has defied solution. It is suggested in this note that ἀγαπῶ and φιλῶ carry a slight difference of “formality” as a result of their history and that this can account for the interplay.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

cwconrad
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Re: ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν in John 21:15-17

Post by cwconrad » January 16th, 2017, 8:08 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:The interchange of two verbs for love, ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν, in John 21:15-17 has generated on the one hand a rash of bad exegeses proposing semantic differences between the terms (e.g., different kinds of love) and on the other hand claims that they are synonymous. In a recent article in Novum Testamentum, Lexicographer John A. L. Lee steps into the breach, arguing that, although both mean 'love,' there is a difference in formality between them, particularly in Peter's use of the more formal φιλεῖν in this context.

The cite is: John A. L. Lee, "The Puzzle of John 21:15-17: A Formality Solution," NovT 59 (2017): 27-30.

Here is the abstract:
Lee 2017:27 wrote:The alternation of the words for “love” in John 21:15-17 is a long-standing puzzle that has defied solution. It is suggested in this note that ἀγαπῶ and φιλῶ carry a slight difference of “formality” as a result of their history and that this can account for the interplay.
I don't have ready access to the article, but I'm curious whether Lee applies the same criteria to the other alternative phrasings in this episode:
βόσκε τὰ ἀρνία μου
and
ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου
and
βόσκε τὰ πρόβατά μου
?
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Stephen Carlson
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Re: ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν in John 21:15-17

Post by Stephen Carlson » January 16th, 2017, 8:21 am

No, he does not discuss those at all in this very short article.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Stephen Hughes
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Re: ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν in John 21:15-17

Post by Stephen Hughes » January 17th, 2017, 4:53 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:although both mean 'love,' there is a difference in formality between them, particularly in Peter's use of the more formal φιλεῖν in this context.
I can't access to the article online for 36 months, except by paying Brill's $30 price and I look forward to reading it, but never-the-less, I think it is great to see somebody saying that φιλεῖν is a superior / more inclusive (in this case more formal) form / conceptualisation of "love" than ἀγαπᾶν.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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