ἀγαπάω and φιλέω again...

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
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Barry Hofstetter
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ἀγαπάω and φιλέω again...

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 15th, 2018, 10:22 am

Still having fun in the Colloquia, and found this this morning:

ἐγώ σε ἀγαπῶ, ἐγώ σε φιλῶ...

Remind you of anything in the gospels, say John 21:15-17? The context here is a section on seeking reconciliation with a friend or relative. The Latin translation, the language being learned, says

"ego te diligo, ego te amo..."

Which is precisely parallel to how Jerome renders John 21:15:

diligis me plus his dicit ei etiam Domine tu scis quia amo te

The commonplace today is that there is no essential semantic difference between ἀγαπάω and φιλέω, and that the distinctions made great capital of by preachers are wrong (and aren't we just so much smarter than they). However, finding this in a text unrelated to the gospels, in a text designed in fact to teach Greek speakers Latin, leads me to think that maybe our modern linguistically informed semantics might not be as accurate as we thought. I also find it interesting that both the Colloquia and Jerome render ἀγαπάω with diligo (esteeem, value) and φιλέω with amo (feel affection for).
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John Kendall
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Re: ἀγαπάω and φιλέω again...

Post by John Kendall » September 15th, 2018, 10:47 am

Just to add some fresh fuel to this long-burning fire, here's the abstract from J. A. L. Lee's recent note in Novum Testamentum 59 (2017): "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."

And here's a key excerpt: "This evidence leads to the conclusion that in early Koine Greek, and certainly by the time of the New Testament, φιλῶ was obsolescent in the meaning “love.” The standard word for the idea was ἀγαπῶ. Obsolescent words tend to carry greater formality. Thus we can say that φιλῶ was the slightly more formal word, while ἀγαπῶ had no extra connotation of that kind, but was “unmarked” for formality. It should be emphasised that the difference, though noticeable to a native speaker, would be slight."

He briefly applies his findings to the dialogue in John 21.

John
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: ἀγαπάω and φιλέω again...

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 15th, 2018, 11:20 am

John Kendall wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 10:47 am
Just to add some fresh fuel to this long-burning fire, here's the abstract from J. A. L. Lee's recent note in Novum Testamentum 59 (2017): "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."

And here's a key excerpt: "This evidence leads to the conclusion that in early Koine Greek, and certainly by the time of the New Testament, φιλῶ was obsolescent in the meaning “love.” The standard word for the idea was ἀγαπῶ. Obsolescent words tend to carry greater formality. Thus we can say that φιλῶ was the slightly more formal word, while ἀγαπῶ had no extra connotation of that kind, but was “unmarked” for formality. It should be emphasised that the difference, though noticeable to a native speaker, would be slight."

He briefly applies his findings to the dialogue in John 21.

John
Interesting. And yet, the Colloquia has φιλῶ as ὁμιλία καθημερινά translated into sermo cottidiana (everyday Greek into everyday Latin). I don't have time now, but interested to see to what extent φιλῶ shows up in the papyri and how it is used there.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: ἀγαπάω and φιλέω again...

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 15th, 2018, 11:35 am

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John Kendall
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Re: ἀγαπάω and φιλέω again...

Post by John Kendall » September 15th, 2018, 12:07 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 11:20 am
don't have time now, but interested to see to what extent φιλῶ shows up in the papyri and how it is used there.
I've not checked this out, but Lee claims: "φιλῶ did continue to be used with its old meaning “love,” but not entirely on the same footing as ἀγαπῶ. A highly significant fact is that φιλῶ, while frequent in documentary papyri, occurs mostly in formulae, which are of course a standard location of old-fashioned, formal language. Another observation is that φιλῶ often appears with μισῶ, in a more or less fixed pair. Further data pointing in the same direction could be added."

John
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MAubrey
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Re: ἀγαπάω and φιλέω again...

Post by MAubrey » September 15th, 2018, 3:50 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 10:22 am
eads me to think that maybe our modern linguistically informed semantics might not be as accurate as we thought.
Ah, well, I would dispute that the "there's no essential semantic difference" isn't the product of "a modern linguistically informed semantics." ;)
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: ἀγαπάω and φιλέω again...

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » September 15th, 2018, 6:02 pm

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