Re: Love me more than *these* ?

From: Wagers, Will (
Date: Tue Jun 25 1996 - 10:34:19 EDT

Carl W. Conrad writes on 6/25/96:

> At 12:59 AM -0400 6/25/96, Wes Williams wrote:
> >Consequently, scholars have suggested three possible meanings for Jesus'
> >question:
> >
> > 1. Do you love me more than you love these other disciples?
> > 2. Do you love me more than these disciples love me?
> > 3. Do you love me more than these things, such as the fish?
> >Could it be, then, that Number 3 was what Jesus was asking, 'Do you love
> >me more
> >than these things, such as the fish?' This possibility fits the way the
> >question
> >is phrased in Greek, for Peter was being asked to choose between two things
> >(between Jesus and "these"). Such a question would also be appropriate
>in view
> >of Peter's past. He had been one of the first disciples to follow Jesus.
> >1:35-42) Apparently, though, Peter did not immediately follow Jesus
> >Rather, he returned to his fishing. Thus, some months later Jesus called
> >away from that substantial business to become a 'fisher of men.' (Matthew
> >4:18-20; Luke 5:1-11) Nonetheless, after Jesus' death, Peter initiated a
> >return
> >to this career, telling some of the disciples: "I am going fishing."John
> >21:2,
> >3.
> An interesting disquisition. The Greek says simply, AGAPAiS ME PLEON TOUTWN?
> On the other hand, if TOUTWN refers to "fish," two questions arise in my mind.
> (2) The other question strikes me as more serious: would one really be
> likely to use _either_ FILEW _or_ AGAPAW with an implicit "fish" or
> "things like that" as an object to express a PREFERENCE? Even assuming
> AGAPAW involves a "valuation" of its object, is the word used of a
> relationship toward "things" or only of a relationship with people? And if
> FILEW refers to either friendly afection or to familial love, is it the
> appropriate word to express a greater commitment to fishing than to Jesus?
> Somehow the verb seems wrong to express this meaning.

Very interesting. I wouldn't like to see the fish possibility dismissed easily
as it ties in with the mythological imagery beautifully - Jesus the Pisces

The thing about asking three times if he loves him sounds like all those oral
tales (or travelling salesman jokes) where the audience knows what's going
to happen all along, and loves knowing it. But, I don't get the punch line.

I'm not sure the question is whether one might normally or reasonably use
FILEW or AGAPAW in the way we have been discussing it. The fish possiblity
opens up a whole rainbow of other possible reasons for word choice, e.g.
things like wordplay, irony, inside references and jokes, double entendres,
etc. My Greek's no good: Is there some way Jesus could be asking him one
thing, but Simon Peter is answering something else ? (Thus, the repetition
of the disconnect to rub in the joke, bigger laugh each time.) What is
Jesus pointing to by repeating the question ?

If we can figure out the "joke", I'll bet we can clear up the difference
between FILEW and AGAPAW ! I can tell you this: As regards the epilogue,
the fact that Jesus switches to FILEW is *not* insignificant. As Simon
becomes increasingly agitated, Jesus somehow lets him off the hook by
switching verbs. The tension is released when Jesus switches verbs, so
what is the source of the tension ? After all, Simon said he loved him the
first time. It's got to be in the difference between FILEW and AGAPAW.

In fact, the very next story (21:18) is about such a misunderstanding.

It reads like there's three different stories all scrunched in together. The
author even alludes to this saying how there are enough stories to fill the
world. But, why tack on this jumbled one ? Since it's an "epilogue", it and
the prologue were wrapped around the original book for some reason.
Maybe we should consider the pro- and epilogues together but separate
from the main book to try to figure out what's going on.

Furthermore, this episode is obviously some kind of vignette (can't think
of right word) the point of which has always escaped me. It reminds of
episodes in stories like the Green Knight.

Very interesting. Wish I'd been paying attention all along.

(Are we talking about the Last Breakfast again ?)


Will Reality is the best metaphor.

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