From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun May 31 1998 - 20:52:51 EDT
At 6:02 PM -0400 5/31/98, Edgar Foster wrote:
>---Rolf Furuli wrote:
>> As far as I know, no research has yielded data suggesting that words
>> stored in the mind as phrases or clauses, but the data suggest that
>> word is stored in the mind of people with the same PP as a "concept"
>> often has fuzzy edges. Because this concept is somewhat (but not
>> fluid, the same word used in different contexts illuminates or makes
>> visible different parts of the concept. So "concept" used in lexical
>> semantics has no meaning outside its PP, (therefore can we not use
>> words to describe Greek concepts), it cannot be defined because it
>> apprehended by the minds of those sharing the same PP, and the only
>> express it is to say or write the word to which it is exclusively
>I would like to offer a text for the purposes of literary case
>analysis: John 11:3, 5.
>In John 11:3, the Lord is said to FILEIS Lazarus. Conversely,
>according to John, Jesus "loved" (HGAPA) Martha and Mary. Now what is
>John telling us here? Are we to suppose that Jesus had a close
>affectionate relationship with Lazarus, and not with Martha and Mary?
>This could be one way of looking at the text. But could it also be
>true that the words overlap in this context? Would the Greek mind
>differentiate between the two words in this context?
>Earle says that Jesus expressed "a higher kind of love" toward Mary
>and Martha over against the love he had for Lazarus.
>What do you think?
Here we go again--with the same question that led to an endless thread on
John 21 where correspondents split into two sides, one of them holding the
overlap and near synonymity of AGAPAN and FILEIN, the other fully confident
that there's all the difference in the world between the two verbs (or at
least, as an old commercial for a St. Louis dairy years ago put it in its
ice-cream ads, "a subtle difference that makes all the difference").
Personally I think Earle is probably wrong (I dare say, almost surely
wrong), but I rather doubt the question is going to receive a definitive
answer in this forum if the same question couldn't be resolved with regard
to John 21.
Yet perhaps the question can extend a bit further into what, for want of a
better term (and also because it has a certain traditional venerability, as
George would say, being suitably ancient), is essentially the problem of
"semantic domain" as an instance of the One and the Many. Let's toss out a
few items in the realm of Love, Attraction, Passion, Desire, Preference,
Kindred feeling, etc., etc. In the Symposium (the argument of which I
always confound with the distinctive argument in Dostoyevsky's _Brothers_
expounded by one of Alyosha's brothers that the same thing that Alyosha
feels for God is the sexual lust of insects one for the other. Plato
expresses it more delicately than that, but he does seem to feel that all
that draws and binds partners to each other is the work of ERWS at one
level or another. There's the unitarian side of things; yet on the other
hand, take words like ERAOMAI, FILEW, AGAPAW, STERGW, EPIQUMEW, OREGOMAI,
KTL.--one really wonders whether one can safely says these are all flavors
of the same basic substance. I've cited here before a fascinating poem of
Catullus (Carmen 72) revealing that the poet could not distinguish the
elements of adulterous sexual passion for Lesbia from parental tenderness
toward a child--it is one of the most fascinating confessional documents in
the literature of neurosis:
DILEXI TUM TE NON TANTUM UT VULGUS AMICAM
SED PATER UT FILIOS DILIGIT ET GENEROS;
NUNC TE COGNOVI, QUARE ETSI IMPENSIUS UROR
MULTO MI TAMEN ES VILIOR ET LEVIOR.
QUI POTIS EST, INQUIS? QUOD AMANTEM INIURIA TALIS
COGIT AMARE MAGIS, SED BENE VELLE MINUS.
Roughly (certainly not literally): "At that time I cherished you, not so
much the way a common man does his girl, but rather the way a father
cherishes his sons and sons-in-law; But now I really know you, and so,
though I burn with fiercer passion, even so you are more worthless and
insubstantial than ever. "How can that be," you ask? It's because a lover
hurt that way is compelled to love more but to respect less."
Among the words in the semantic range of "love" here--DILIGERE, URI, AMARE,
BENE VELLE--one does not so easily sort out the overlaps and distinctions.
In fact the poem resists translation: I've put "respect" for BENE VELLE
because I think that's what it means, but literally it is "wish well." I
don't think the Greek words are that much easier to sort out: they overlap,
some are partly synonymous, even within the same context (John 11:3,5?),
while elsewhere there appears to be a nuance that requires a chiaroscurist
(the word that decided the national U.S. spelling bee last week) to discern.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org
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