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From The Chaplain's Desk
From the Chaplainís Desk: Love

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  July 3, 2022 --

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5 and Mark 12:30

Translating is often quite difficult when there is no exact equivalent in one language for a word or concept in another language. In making Bible translations the word LOVE is a striking example of this. There are six different words in the Hebrew Old Testament and three different words in the Greek New Testament that the King James Version of  the  Bible translate as “love.” And there are at least four different meanings or concepts in the use of that word.

In increasing intensity we may:

Love something as in “I love chocolate ice cream” This is another way of saying that one really likes or desires something. The Greek word used in the New Testament is Epithum.

Love another person in the sense of strong desire, sexual or otherwise. This may be a very selfish

form of love, with no necessary concern for the well-being of the other person. The Greek word for this kind of love is Eros, which, strangely enough, does not show up in the New Testament [if we ignore the name Erastus, a companion of Timothy.

Love someone or something with the strong desire for the other per- son’s or object’s well-being, brotherly love. The Greek word for this kind of love is Phillia, and it shows up often in the New Testament. A related Greek word is Philadelphia – brotherly love.

Love someone or something unconditionally A deep and profound sacrificial love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstances. The Greek word for this kind of love is Agape. This is the word used in the quote from Mark which begins this column.

Needless to say, Phillia, Philadelphia, and Agape are the kinds of Love we should cultivate, where we consider the needs of others before we consider our own needs.

A great difficulty arose when the New Testament was translated into Latin.  The Romans had no Latin equivalents for either Phillia or Agape. The closest they could come was Caritas, the origin of our English word Charity. The King James Version of our English Bible leaned heavily on the Latin Vulgate in its choice of words, so that in it we find 1 Corinthians 13 says “now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three”, while more modern translations say, “And now faith, hope, and love abide”.

But the greatest of these is Love.



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