RE: Was: "a question from a novice"

From: Eric S. Weiss (
Date: Tue Mar 21 2000 - 22:06:18 EST

Well, it could be that there is one Aramaic word (like our word "love")
that covers all the range of meaning of both AGAPAW and FILEW (assuming
there is semantic overlap but not total semantic identity - i.e., synonymy
- between them), and the author of GJohn used two different Greek words to
capture the fuller meaning of the Aramaic word that sufficed for both. But
then, I think, we'd be stuck with the problem of deciding what shift of
meaning he intended to convey by switching from AGAPAW to FILEW in Jesus's
words. And because we can't show that there is a provable difference in
meaning between AGAPAW and FILEW, we may not be able to do more than guess
wildly about why the author made the switch where he did, or which way his
shift in meaning went.

And ... as was discussed a previous time when these verses came up, Peter's
distress might not have been because Jesus switched from AGAPAW to FILEW,
but because He asked Peter A THIRD TIME, i.e., as if He didn't think Peter
was serious the first two times.

I know I mentioned it and I know no one has said anything about it - but is
it not relevant to the discussion that there are several other terms in
this passage (John 21:15-17) that the author uses two words for - in other
words, he is likely being stylistic and not really changing meaning - and
because that's the case, one should not focus on AGAPAW/FILEW without also

On 03/21/00, ""Bill Ross" <>" wrote:
> <Carlton>
> A bit of evidence that would sway me is if someone could translate the
> conversation between Jesus and Peter in Aramaic with two verbs that tracked
> what some claim for these two Greek verbs. I do believe that Jesus spoke to
> his disciples (even after the resurrection) in Aramaic. Could he have made
> that same distinction. Until that is done I suspect that if there is a
> difference of emphasis intended, it is from the writer and not the speaker.
> <Bill>
> Are you saying you think Jesus spoke the same words each time, but John
> recorded them as different for his own emphasis?
> I find that unlikely.
> Isn't it entirely possible, assuming that Jesus did speak in Aramaic, that
> Jesus spoke two very different words for which John's word choice was less
> obviously distinguished to our dull ears?
> I am only saying that the difference of the words in Koine argue for
> different words used by Jesus in Aramaic, and argue for significance both
> for Jesus' choice and for John's. I personally see no logical argument here
> for insignificance.
> Bill Ross

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