The story I'm getting is that it barely appears before the LXX, and the NT seems to introduce a new usage (in place of other words for love).
BDAG wrote:this term has left little trace in polytheistic Gk. lit. ... Its paucity in gener. Gk. lit. may be due to a presumed colloq. flavor of the noun
(Really, nothing? Perhaps nothing except semantic domain overlap?)Nygren wrote:the double spell cast upon us by tradition and language is broken as soon as we realise that Eros and Agape have originally nothing whatever to do with one another
Leon Morris wrote:You can find it a few times in the Old Testament, where as a matter of fact it seems to mean pretty much what eros means; it seems as if when the translators of the Old Testament into Greek came up against a word for romantic love they avoided eros because of some of the associations it had in the areas in which they lived, and so they used another word, and they dug up agape. It's used in one or two writers with a biblical slant, and that's it. It is not found in the whole, vast range of Greek literature before the New Testament, other than just these few, odd places. But in the New Testament, it is the characteristic word for love. If you come up against the noun 'love' in your translation of the New Testament, it is a stone cold certainty that the Greek is 'agape.' That is the one word that the New Testament writers use for love.
Moulton+Milligan in 1930 wrote:Ἀγάπη is in any case a back-formation from the verb, replacing the older ἀγάπησις, and originating doubtless in a restricted dialectic area.