Re: Jn 21:15-17 (and getting woollier..)

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Sat Apr 18 1998 - 21:09:25 EDT

On Sat, 18 Apr 1998 13:22:04 -0500 Jack Kilmon <>
> wrote:
>> Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>> > Even though the passage is a Johannine construct, the actual
>> > words spoken by Christ here seem especially germane to the argument.
>> > Of course, we do not know exactly what those words in
Aramaic/Hebrew >> > were. Nevertheless,
>> > if it could be determined that the Aramaic/Hebrew knew of no such
>> > equivalent distinction as found in the Greek AGAPAW and FILEW, and
>> > if the same word would have been used for both, then this would
>> > support the synonymous interpretation of AGAPAS and FILEIS in Jn
>> > 21:15-17.
>> Hi Paul ~
>> You are quite right here, if the assumption is that Christ did NOT
>> speak Greek, or was not speaking Greek when these thoughts were
>> spoken. Given the heterogeneity of His hearers ~ [Romans, Greeks and
>> Jews] ~ And given the wide usage of Greek ~ I am very inclined to
>> think that He did indeed speak it, at least publicly. This is,
>> granted, a more private communication, so the issue seems rather
>> flexible-plexible! I think, for starters, we can assume that Christ
>> COULD speak Greek, eh?
>> George
> I am going to render this is Greek and interlinear Aramaic
>in case some may be interested in the Aramaic rendering. I agree
>with George that Jesus could speak Greek with enough competence to
>communicate but I do not think that Kefa spoke Greek...that's why
>he needed Mark. If these words are historically Yeshuine, they
>would have been in Aramaic. The difference between these two
>languages is that Aramaic is a "practical" language that has
>ONE word that could have several meanings (a very idiomatic
>language) while Greek had numerous words for one concept but
>several nuances, Therefore the love of reverence AGAPH vs. the
>emotional FILEI. The Aramaic, however was ONE word RXM.

> Given Ch 21 was not part of the autograph John, I believe
>the Yohannine community had a purpose for this appendage..that's
>another thread. I believe, however, the AGAPAJ/FILEI was a
>deliberate theological "play" on the single Aramaic rxm for a
>given purpose and would bow to George's theological expertise
>on that...might be interesting to discuss. I have not
>researched the various textual variants, that may be an interesting
>one for Jim's special expertise.

I surely hope we are open to the possible theological or textual input
from others. Hmm, maybe not. At any rate, if I gather what you are
saying, then from the same Aramaic word John may somehow be interpreting
different nuances as reflected in his choice of the non-synonymous AGAPAS
and FILEIS. If so, then can you buttress your argument by examples?

It seems at least as plausible, if not more likely, that the use of the
same Aramaic word in the same context would be interpreted by John to
mean the same thing. If so, then one would expect AGAPAS and FILEIS to
be synonymous.

Another possibility, I suppose, is that John may be changing the meaning
by his choice of words. Examples of this would be the way NT authors use
the LXX, i.e., change words for their purposes. But, this is a different
scenario altogether, as in John's case we are talking about quoting or
translating words spoken by Christ. Surely, one would not expect John to
be changing the meaning.

Paul Dixon

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