I just want to spend a little more time on the theme of translations as I feel it is vital for us to be comfortable with the right translation so that our meditations may be fruitful!
I mentioned the other day that the number of Greek words used in the Bible far outweigh the number of English words used! This, as I said does not take away the accuracy of our earlier translations just the fullness of meaning! Let me explain.
In English we have one word for love, which is used to express love for God as well as love for Burger King etc! So, I love Jesus, but I also love my son Karl! I love gardening; I love to play the guitar and sing! I love bacon and egg sandwiches and I love my cats! But this single word does not express the degree of my love for these people and things. I know in my heart and mind that I love God more than any of these and I love Karl more than anything else but God; yet the single English word love can not communicate the difference, only if I went on to explain the difference would any body else realise there was a difference! Does that make sense?
However, the original Greek uses 4 different words to express love!
· Agape the word used which in Ancient Greek; often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true love” rather than the attraction suggested by “Eros.” Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial love. Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast. It can also be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard. The early Christian writers appropriated agape for use to express the unconditional love of God.
· Éros is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “intimate love;” however, eros does not have to be sexual in nature. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone whom you love more than the philia, love of friendship. It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage.
· Philia means friendship or affectionate love in Modern Greek. It is a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. In ancient texts, philos denoted a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers.
· Storge means “affection” in ancient and Modern Greek. It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in “loving” the tyrant.
So, as you can see, our English word love pales in comparison! This is why it is useful to have other translations and if you can, use a Bible dictionary too. Tomorrow I’ll have a look at the word love used in practice in the New Testament.
PRAYER Heavenly Father God, there is so much to grasp with Bible meditation, but if we grasp it our lives and our faith will be all the richer. Help us to find time and make an effort to make Bible meditation a part of our daily devotions. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen