The Language of Love

''The Greeks have a word for it'' is an old cliche but nonetheless apt for our subject. Indeed, in relation to ''love,'' the Greeks not only had a word, they had many words Like so many aspects of Western culture, our understandings and views of love have been influenced by contributions from Greek thought. The Greek vocabulary for ''love'' includes the nouns ''storge,'' ''epithymia,'' ''philia,'' ''eros,'' and ''agape,'' and their respective verb forms. On occasion some of these words for love...

Biblical Views of Love

The concept of love in the Hebrew Bible reflects the development of biblical texts over a long period of time and in changing social and cultural contexts. Furthermore, the Hebrew Bible includes many types of literature poetry, prophecy, wisdom, law codes, and narratives. Hence to assume that a concept of love can be abstracted or systematized from the rich and varied literature of the Hebrew Bible is misleading. A unified fundamental meaning of the Hebrew word-stem ''to love'' can hardly be...

Faith Formed by Love Scholasticism

The twelfth-century ''Ovidian age'' with its (re)discovery of human love with all its individualized and personalized passions - the deathly passion of Tristan and Isolde the spiritual passion of the mystics female mystical passion for intimacy with Jesus Bernardine passion for Christ's embrace and kiss -would indeed be a hard act to follow. What happens to these rivalries, mixtures, and syntheses of eros and agape with the advent of the great scholastic systems of the High Middle Ages What...

Love and the Individual Abelard and Bernard

After Augustine, Western life and culture entered a period of centuries of nearly unremitting struggle for survival and the development of a feudal, warrior culture. As if striving for daily bread were not a sufficient hardship, there were also the internal conflicts among the rulers themselves as well as against external terrors such as Viking and Magyar incursions. During this period up to the rise of cathedral schools and then fledgling universities in the twelfth century, there appear few...

Faith Active in Love Reformation

The understanding of love in the Reformation period shifted fundamentally from the Augustinian-medieval theological developments. For the Reformers, love is no longer conceived in terms of Plato's highest good or Aristotle's crown of virtue ''baptized'' as God's grant of ''the crown of life,'' caritas, to those successfully ascending the ladder from vice to virtue. Already in one of the earliest Reformation writings, Luther's ''Disputation Against Scholastic Theology'' (1517), Aristotelian...

World Without Love The Greco Roman World and Early Christianity

Gerhard Uhlhorn, in his magisterial three-volume study of the history of Christian charity, described the Greco-Roman context for Christianity as ''a world without love.'' Uhlhorn (1826-1901) was motivated to undertake his study by a conversation with Theodor Fliedner (1800-1864), the ''father'' of the modern deaconess movement and a leader in the development of social welfare. Fliedner had urged Uhlhorn to write the history of Christian charity in order to awaken and increase contemporary...

Love in the Modern World

Love in the modern world took a number of trajectories. While Wichern and others were striving to respond to the social and economic challenges of their day, their colleagues in philosophy and theology were responding to the intellectual challenges posed by the rise of the sciences, both natural and social. Meanwhile, writers of novels, poetry, plays, and operas were luxuriating in a public market that could not get enough love-stories. The discovery of religion as a historical human...

Mystics and Troubadours

While Bernard was extolling the love of God that ultimately leads to love of oneself for the sake of God, poets were extolling the love of woman for the ennoblement of man. What is notable from the twelfth century on is that Christian theological and mystical conceptions of love on the one hand and secular courtly love on the other hand intertwine. We can see this development in relation to medieval interpretations of the relationship of the bridegroom and bride in the Song of Songs. In the...

Bibliography

The following bibliography is limited to studies consulted and or cited. Each entry itself contains extensive bibliography. For overviews of the concept of love in Eastern religions, Judaism, and Islam including extensive bibliographies see the entries ''Liebe'' in Theologische Realenzyklop die, Vol. 21 Berlin, New York Walter de Gruyter, 1991 , 122-8, 133-8 and Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Vol. 5 T bingen Mohr Siebeck, 2002 , 335-6, 348-9, 356-9. Abelard, Peter, The Story of My...

Caritas The Augustinian Synthesis of Biblical Agape and Hellenistic Eros

The person in the West who more than any other synthesized the Hellenistic heritage of eros with the biblical proclamation of agape was St. Augustine 354-430 . His intellectual and spiritual journey from pagan philosopher and rhetorician to Christian priest and then bishop entailed profound reflection and writing upon his Greco-Roman heritage and the religious options of his day. His writings - autobiographical reflection, biblical studies, polemical works against rival religions and perceived...