Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 12:2 (Autumn 1999)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“God is Love,” D. A. Carson, Bibliotheca Sacra 156 (April-June 1999), 131–42.

Carson originally presented this material at Dallas Theological Seminary at the W. H. Griffith Thomas Lectures in February of 1998. This is the second article in a four part series entitled, “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.” Dr. Carson allows that this might be cause for surprise, although after reading Carson’s article, the love of God does seem more difficult to understand than it was before!

In “God is Love,” Carson labors to show what the expression “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) actually means. He explained that we cannot follow the “classic treatment” by Anders Nygren of investing “the agapaō word-group with theological weight” (p. 131). Most JOTGES readers will be familiar with the suggestion that agapaō refers to willed love, phileō to emotional love, and erōs (which is not found in the NT) to sexual erotic love (p. 131). Carson rejects the notion that God’s love is only expressed by the agapaō word-group” (p. 132). He cites seven difficulties with that claim (pp. 132–34). Carson attributes many of these mistakes to “methodologically flawed word studies” (p. 134).

There is no doubt that there are things here with which we can readily agree; but words are slippery things, and we must be careful. It is easy to conclude that there is nothing to what we have been taught about the distinctions in meanings between the three Greek words for love, that those traditional distinctions are completely invalid. As we said, we must take care. For example, the word epiginōskō is often used “with no emphasis on the [preposition], essentially = ginōskein” (S.v. “ginōskein,” BAGD, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979], 291). There are times, however, when in a given context the core meaning of the word is manifest such as in 1 Cor 13:12 where ginaskō means simply “to know” and epiginaskō means to “know exactly, completely, through and through,” (BAGD, 291), with the meaning of the prepositional prefix coming through.

So also, are we to ...

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