-Rev Melissa Fain-
This is the final post in a series about the Virtues/Deadly sins:
"It's all Greek to me."
That phrase means you don't know. It's an important phrase to wrap up this series because I need you to know, and I need you to know Greek.
Here's what I feel about the Bible: It is not the inerrant Word of God. To believe it is takes away the power from the actual experience being written down, and the power of God to act today. Most people who use the phrase "inerrant Word of God," are English speakers. It's arrogant to assume our English translations are perfect counterparts to the original Greek and Hebrew. Some words and phrases don't translate easily. Then, hundreds of years later, our understanding of words change. Charity is one of those words.
This whole time I've been comparing the virtues/sins to 1 Cor 13:13. "Now faith, hope, and love abide these three, but the greatest of these is love." It's a deadly sin if the action is not done in faith, hope or love. Conversely, it's a Godly virtue if it does.
The reason I brought up Biblical interpretation is because of this verse. Back when King James commissioned the KJV the translators saw the word "Agape." (Pronounced: Ah-Gah-Pay) In Greek it looks like this:
Here's the thing about the Greeks: They had six words for "love": eros, mania, ludas, storge, pragma, and agape. For those of you who have a decent understanding of English roots, you might be able to pull basic definitions out of these loves.
Like "eros" is the root for "erotic," This would be lustful love.
"Manic" is rooted in "mania" which is an obsessive love.
"Pragmatic" is rooted in "pragma" which is thought driven love.
Agape is selfless love. It was considered the highest form of love. It came from a place of ultimate self sacrifice. These very early translators saw the word and used something that meant just that in the English language: Charity. Meanings of words change, and Charity doesn't mean today what it meant back then. Today it means an organization set up to help and raise money for those in need. It changed from an action to a thing.
Now this isn't a case for everyone to pick up their KJV again. There is a reason new Biblical translations come out. Today we understand the original language better. We have multiple secondary and primary texts for translation teams to use. The Dead Sea Scrolls changed the game with pieces of primary passages, and secondary examples.
Also, as I've already written language changes. Do you think God wants you to translate your translation? By yourself? There's a reason why translation teams are done in groups (beside the obvious definition of the word "team.") Not all words have one easy definition. Most Bibles have tiny footnotes at the bottom of the page. That's where the Biblical team didn't completely agree. Instead of just picking one word, they pick both and put the "losing" word in the footnotes.
No translation team is putting "Charity" in the footnotes of 1:Cor 13:13. Love is the best word today, but it also has to be understood in terms of the Greek word used for it: Agape.
Well, now I've done it. I turned the last virtue into a series on it's own. It deserves more than one week. I'll get into Greed, it's Deadly Sin next week, and we'll go from there!