Greek European Culture

Greek Language, Philosophy, Plato

Eros and Agape: Can we know what love is?

Many other great fathers, such as St Gregory of Nyssa, St Dionysious the Areopagite or St Maximus Confessor, use the word Eros and not only Agape, whether they refer to love for God or to love for men. In the verse above, that the author condemns because “it sounds more like an eros, not an agape”, all of these Orthodox fathers would find no problem at all.

There is no good love and bad love — all love is one and is good. We can differentiate only by degrees, as is well known already from Plato, who did not hesitate to describe as divine even the relationship between two persons of the same sex that contains carnal affection besides what Plato himself considered as pure love. But we can’t understand these things just by examining words and etymologies.

We have to be careful, we need to know better the life of the Church through the ages, and never, ever, betray our own experience of love — unless, of course, there is nothing to be betrayed.

Spiritual life is a building-upon, a growing, an enlargement, not a betrayal. If we feel love to whatever degree, this is the most certain principle for us, upon which we should base our understanding of the Bible and all our progress.

If our love is false, it will not become true when we learn Greek etymology; if it is small, it will not become great because of Greek grammar. A small heart will use grammar to arrive to small conclusions, such as the one that we saw above about eros and agape.

Cf. Learning Greek without reason!

1 Comment

  1. Lydia

    I think the point the author was making, or at least, a worry of many in the church, was that English has confined the meaning of love into one single word that trys to describe everything from sexual intimacy to an extremem liking of a certain dessert to what Christ did on the cross. Our articulating abilities are weak and the English language has not done a good job of strengthening it. I think the point is understanding not simply of the words and definitions but the MEANING. And the fact that what ‘the world’ calls love, doesn’t touch the edge of what our Creator displays.