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.
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.
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- Agapao / agape (kairoswithjesussite.wordpress.com)
- 1John3v1-9:- Agape love is Devine between the twice-born people of spirit with One Father. Natura people in Adam … (disclose.tv)
- Agape (graniathreads.wordpress.com)
- Agape Love: A Biblical Overview (christianity.answers.com)
- Martin Luther King and agape (robertwestblog.wordpress.com)
- A Eucharistic Abundance of the Fruits of the Earth (frted.wordpress.com)