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Agape

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Early Christians celebrating Communion at an A...

Early Christians celebrating Communion at an Agape Feast, from the Catacomb of Ss. Peter and Marcellinus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In literary circles the Greek term agapē (Latin: caritas) refers to the ideal of universal love, especially charitable Christian love among brothers and sisters of the one human family.

As C. S. Lewis suggests in his book, The Four Loves (1960), this type of love is distinct from matrimonial, emotional, passionate-erotic and friendly love.

For many Christians, agape also refers to the institution of the Eucharist, introduced by Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is often connected by Christians with the Jewish Passover meal, an event signifying, among other things, fellowship.

Christians also stress that the Eucharistic meal is not just a celebration of fellowship. For believers in the Eucharist, agape is a “love feast” involving a genuine participation in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The rite is said to pierce through space and time and be sanctified from heaven.

Agape feast 04

Agape feast 04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Believers also say the Eucharist is not a mere symbol nor memorial; rather, the host is essentially if not visibly transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

The roots of the Eucharist are traceable to ancient Greece and Rome, where it was believed that deceased ancestors partook of food and drink offered at funeral feasts. Somewhat like the Eucharist, this was not just a memorial feast but an active celebration of the living and the dead.

The Wikipedia entry on agape says that the earliest use of the term agape didn’t bear any particular religious connotation.

Although the word does not have specific religious connotation, the word has been used by a variety of contemporary and ancient sources, including biblical authors and Christian authors. Greek philosophers at the time of Plato and other ancient authors have used forms of the word to denote love of a spouse or family, or affection for a particular activity, in contrast to philia (an affection that could denote friendship, brotherhood or generally non-sexual affection) and eros, an affection of a sexual nature.¹

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agape. This Wikepedia entry may seem less “biased” and more “objective” than a Christian theological view. But it’s arguably biased in its own way.

Related Posts » Consubstantiation, Eros, Philia, Transubstantiation

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3 thoughts on “Agape

  1. The most widely used Christogram is a four-letter abbreviation ICXC — a traditional abbreviation of the Greek words for “Jesus Christ” a sacred name. It is sometimes rendered as “ICXC NIKA”, meaning “Jesus Christ Conquers.”
    Prophecy 23rd October 2008
    The Lord said, “ My people must take the bread and the wine as a ordinance daily, for I have commanded them to take it in remembrance of me, the one and only Saviour Jesus Christ.” Where two or three are gathered there am I in the midst , to strengthen and renew, saith the Lord.”
    “If you are alone then you must seek and pray for me to send someone to you, so that you can take the Holy Communion together. It is very important for you to do this with someone, this command must be fulfilled in these troublesome days, and it is my command that you take the Holy Communion every day. Not every week, or every month, or every year, but daily.”
    “For by doing this every day with a brother or sister, it will bring my strength and victory into your lives, renewing and strengthening you.”
    “For my sacrifice on that cross, the emblem of suffering and shame has been changed into victory and everlasting life, through my resurrection body. The Lord saith that you do not need a Pastor, or a Priest, just a brother or a sister in the Lord, this is my command saith the Lord God Almighty.”
    http://cornishevangelist.wordpress.com

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  2. Serious research into the use in the 1st Century of the word ‘agape’ must confront the realization that it was not a commonly used word. Not only that but the common people of that time would not have used it to mean what we commonly mean today by the English word ‘love.’ So trying to translate it only by using the English word ‘love’ completely changes what St. Paul was trying to do with it. In 1 Cor. 13, St. Paul would not have been trying to explain love, but he would have been trying to explain the completely new meaning that he was giving to a word that his readers would have been unfamiliar with.

    I recently published a book all about my years of research into what St. Paul was trying to do with the word ‘agape.’ My title is The Seven Steps of Agape Prayer. My lengthy research completely changed my understanding of prayer, as I explain in my book.

    Bob West

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  3. Thanks Bob. Wikipedia says

    Agape (/ˈæɡəpiː/[1] or /əˈɡɑːpeɪ/; Classical Greek: ἀγάπη, agápē; Modern Greek: αγάπη IPA: [aˈɣapi]) is one of the Koine Greek words translated into English as love, one which became particularly appropriated in Christian theology as the love of God or Christ for humankind

    It’s the word “appropriated” that I wonder about. I know it has several meanings but one of them is to sort of “rip off.” And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that whoever wrote that Wiki entry was possibly trying to connote that kind of idea. By way of contrast, the Catholic Church tends to view Jesus as existing through all time. So he was well aware of the earlier forms and what they would become. According to this view, it was all part of his plan. God’s plan. (See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm )

    And that’s why I said that the Wiki entry might be biased. Subtle. But by the choice of words and also by excluding this perspective, it clearly is biased. That’s why I don’t pretend to be objective at Earthpages.ca. IMHO that’s a deceptive idea that many fall for. As long as there’s a certain amount of scholarly looking writing, many laypersons just get hoodwinked. Wikipedia in a nutshell. Not that I don’t love and use Wiki a lot. I do. But, like anything, it does have its limits.

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