John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby Shirley Rollinson » May 22nd, 2013, 7:50 pm

Jason Hare wrote:Carl,

Do you think there is any significance as to a distinction between ἀγαπῶ and φιλῶ when it is pointed out that only when Jesus asked Peter if he loved him (with φιλῶ) did he become offended. He wasn't offended either time when he asked him if he loved him (with ἀγαπῶ). Do you think there's no significance to this at all? Just curious.


A further complication is - Were they speaking in Greek? Or in Aramaic?
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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby Alan Patterson » May 23rd, 2013, 9:30 am

Shirley,

Why would it matter what language they spoke? I've often wondered about this. I don't think we have an issue with translational Greek (like the LXX) here, do you? Regardless of what language Christ and Simon were conversing in, the author here is portraying, to a largely Greek speaking world, the events in Greek and he would be using the Greek language to communicate what he wanted his readers to understand. I think it would be sheer speculation anytime someone tried to figure out what the verbal language was that was spoken, and make an interpretation based on that. Please enlighten me on your reasons for such an option. I remain open to such an idea, but I've not come across any good argument/explanation of this.
χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη,
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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby MAubrey » May 23rd, 2013, 10:46 am

Alan Patterson wrote:Why would it matter what language they spoke? I've often wondered about this. I don't think we have an issue with translational Greek (like the LXX) here, do you? Regardless of what language Christ and Simon were conversing in, the author here is portraying, to a largely Greek speaking world, the events in Greek and he would be using the Greek language to communicate what he wanted his readers to understand. I think it would be sheer speculation anytime someone tried to figure out what the verbal language was that was spoken, and make an interpretation based on that. Please enlighten me on your reasons for such an option. I remain open to such an idea, but I've not come across any good argument/explanation of this.

+1

I'm definitely with Alan on this one.
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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby Mason Barge » August 16th, 2014, 6:23 pm

David H Robinson wrote:A very late follow-on question, but prompted by my looking once again at that breakfast on the seashore. I wonder myself whether the question of what upset Peter finds a possible solution in the τὸ τρίτον of ἐλυπήθη ὁ Πέτρος ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον• φιλεῖς με; where it seems to me that the sense is that at the third challenge, Jesus used a different verb, rather than that Peter was challenged 'three times' or 'for a third time'. I guess I might be helped by comparing other uses of definite article + ordinal, but I confess I'm not sure how to make such a search.


Sorry for being so late in the game, but there is another angle to this. Peter has twice used "φιλω" in telling Jesus he loves Him. Why would Jesus' diction be the source of his disturbance, when he was using the same diction as Peter himself?

And yet another angle: Peter is excitable and always responds to Christ with enormous enthusiasm. Jesus tells Peter "I go to my death and you will all deny me" and Peter immediately cries that he will also die, rather than deny Him. Jesus walks over the water towards the boat and Peter jumps over the side! It simply is not in Peter's personality to understate a response. If there were a difference in the inherent meaning of "ἀγαπάω" and "φιλέω", Peter would be using the more powerful verb. He would never say, "Yes, I love you but not quite as deeply as you are asking."

And a third: Jesus responds to Peter's first two answers by giving him a responsibility. "Feed my lambs" and "tend my sheep" are inconsistent with a response from Peter that means "I love you but not in a deep spiritual or divine sense, as you asked, but only with a brotherly, affectionate kind of love."
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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby Jason Hare » September 17th, 2014, 10:50 am

Mason Barge wrote:
David H Robinson wrote:A very late follow-on question, but prompted by my looking once again at that breakfast on the seashore. I wonder myself whether the question of what upset Peter finds a possible solution in the τὸ τρίτον of ἐλυπήθη ὁ Πέτρος ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον• φιλεῖς με; where it seems to me that the sense is that at the third challenge, Jesus used a different verb, rather than that Peter was challenged 'three times' or 'for a third time'. I guess I might be helped by comparing other uses of definite article + ordinal, but I confess I'm not sure how to make such a search.


Sorry for being so late in the game, but there is another angle to this. Peter has twice used "φιλω" in telling Jesus he loves Him. Why would Jesus' diction be the source of his disturbance, when he was using the same diction as Peter himself?

And yet another angle: Peter is excitable and always responds to Christ with enormous enthusiasm. Jesus tells Peter "I go to my death and you will all deny me" and Peter immediately cries that he will also die, rather than deny Him. Jesus walks over the water towards the boat and Peter jumps over the side! It simply is not in Peter's personality to understate a response. If there were a difference in the inherent meaning of "ἀγαπάω" and "φιλέω", Peter would be using the more powerful verb. He would never say, "Yes, I love you but not quite as deeply as you are asking."

And a third: Jesus responds to Peter's first two answers by giving him a responsibility. "Feed my lambs" and "tend my sheep" are inconsistent with a response from Peter that means "I love you but not in a deep spiritual or divine sense, as you asked, but only with a brotherly, affectionate kind of love."

"Do you have a general love for me?" (asking about the less important)
"I have a real relationship with you!" (more important)
"Yeah, but do you love me in this general way?" (doubting the less important)
"I'm saying that you and I are real friends!" (more important)
"But, are we really friends? Do we really have that closeness?" (calling the more important into question)
Offense.

Of course he would be offended by Jesus using the word that he was using...
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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby cwconrad » September 17th, 2014, 11:05 am

Can you imagine such a dialogue as this?

"I'm OK, but are you OK?"

"Oh, I'm all right."

"But are you OK?"

"I assure you, I'm quite all right."

"Are you really all right"

"Damn it, you know very well I'm OK!"

"All right. That's good!"

I can imagine it only on stage before a live audience.
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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby David Lee » October 15th, 2014, 3:25 am

Although I'm not sure how wide the semantic gap is between ἀγαπάω and φιλέω, if I am allowed to assume that difference in meaning is at play here (and that the difference is between love and affection-love), this is what I think is going inside Simon's head:

Jesus: "Simon, do you ἀγαπάω me"
I love him, but I cannot now dare say I love him since I've denied him (my denials disprove my claim of love); I'll use the subjective claim of affection-love, trusting that he knows the love I have for him in my heart even though I failed to prove it with my actions.

Jesus: "Simon, do you ἀγαπάω me"
Why is he asking again? Doesn't he know I don't have the face to say that I outright love him? But I swear I do truly affection-love him!

Jesus: "Simon, do you φιλέω me"
Wait, what? Just now, this third time, he questioned if I affection-love him. Does he really doubt that I affection-love him? Really? I know I betrayed him and can't boldly claim that I love him, but I really do affection-love him. He should know that! Does he really doubt my affection-love for him? Wait... he knows my heart better than I do. Perhaps the affection-love I have for him is not enough? I claimed big things before and I was proven wrong then... No, it can't be! I swear I love him! I'm sure! I swear!


If I assume there's no semantic gap between ἀγαπάω and φιλέω, it would look like this:

Jesus: "Simon, do you ἀγαπάω me"
Yes, I do love him. He doesn't ever have to ask. I'd do anything for him.

Jesus: "Simon, do you ἀγαπάω me"
Yes, I do, and I've told him, too. Why is he asking again?

Jesus: "Simon, do you φιλέω me"
Oh... He asked me three times... Now that I think about it, I denied him three times that night! He's probably thinking about the three times I've denied him. I've disproved my love to him! Oh, why did I ever deny him? I'm, so sorry, Lord...


Do these scenarios sound about right?
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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby cwconrad » October 15th, 2014, 7:05 am

David Lee wrote:Although I'm not sure how wide the semantic gap is between ἀγαπάω and φιλέω, if I am allowed to assume that difference in meaning is at play here (and that the difference is between love and affection-love), this is what I think is going inside Simon's head: ...
If I assume there's no semantic gap between ἀγαπάω and φιλέω, it would look like this: ...
Do these scenarios sound about right?

The scenarios sound right enough for the assumptions upon which they are constructed. For my part, I think the second one is the right one, while the first one is the preferred interpretation (such is my impression, for what it's worth) of preachers that like to show off their Greek erudition in front of innocent congregations. But in view of the evangelist's common practice of using synonymous words (not only αγαπᾶν/φιλεῖν here, but also ποιμαίνειν/βόσκειν and ἀρνία/πρόβατα), I think that the first scenario is imaginary.
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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » November 11th, 2014, 4:21 pm

Zondervan has just published a new edition of NIDNTTE, see http://zondervanacademic.com/new-international-dictionary-of-new-testament-theology-and-exegesis. You can get there a free "primer" which happens to include the discussion about αγαπαω and this passage. Recommended reading, although I'm partial to it because it agrees with me :)
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Re: John 21 ἀγαπάω / φιλέω

Postby David Lee » November 12th, 2014, 3:29 am

Here's the excerpt from the NIDNTTE primer:

Special attention is usually given to the well-
known dialogue between Peter
and the risen Jesus in John 21:15–17; here
the alternation between ἀγαπάω (which
Jesus uses the first two times he asks, “Do
you love me?”) and φιλέω (which Jesus
uses the third time and Peter uses in his answer all three times) naturally raises the expectation that some semantic distinction is intended. B. F. Westcott (The Gospel according to St. John [1882], 303) argued that by using the second vb. Peter “lays claim only to the feeling of natural love...of which he could be sure. He does not venture to say that he has attained to that higher love (ἀγαπᾷν) which was to be the spring of the Christian life.” This view has been widely accepted and seems to be reflected in the earlier NIV rendering of ἀγαπάω as “truly love” (1984 ed.; the word “truly” is omitted in the 2011 ed.). Trench (42–43) also sees a distinction, but his understanding is almost exactly the opp. of Westcott’s! According to Trench, ἀγαπάω involves “respect and reverence,” and thus to Peter this word “sounds far too cold” and fails to express “the warmth of his affection.” “He therefore in his answer substitutes for the ἀγαπᾷς of Christ the word of a more personal love, φιλῶ σε... And this he does not on the first occasion only, but again upon a second. And now at length he has triumphed; for when his Lord puts the question to him a third time, it is not ἀγαπᾷς any more, but φιλεῖς.”

That two erudite Gk. scholars should reach such contradictory conclusions raises doubts about the validity of the enterprise. If we assume the historical reliability of this incident, further questions are raised by the likelihood that the dialogue would have taken place in Aram.; when the text was translated into Syr. (a form of Aram.), both Gk. vbs. were rendered with the standard Aram. vb. for “love,” rh. m (some scholars have argued that Gk. was the language more commonly spoken by Jesus and the disciples, but this remains a minority view). Moreover, consideration must be given to the fact that John’s writing style is characterized by wordplays of various sorts, and in this very passage we find other lexical alternations: βόσκω G1081 (“to tend, graze, feed”) in 21:15, 17, but ποιμαίνω G4477 (“to herd, tend, shepherd”) in v. 16; ἀρνίον G768 (“sheep, lamb”) in v. 15, but πρόβατον G4585 (“sheep”; v.l. προβάτιον, “little sheep”) in vv. 16–17; οἶδα G3857 (“to know”) in vv. 15–17a, but γινώσκω G1182 (also “to know”) in v. 17b...
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