Monday, July 20, 2009

St. Paul: "Love . . . is not . . . resentful"

Saint Paul Writing His Epistles
Artist: Valentin de Boulogne or Nicolas Tournier
Sixteenth Century
(Image from Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I cited I Corinthians 13: 4-7 in the New International Version (NIV) to suggest a source for Jane Austen's understanding of love's power to overcome resentment in Pride and Prejudice. In looking further, I discovered that the Revised Standard Version (RSV) offers the following translation for verse 5:
[Love] is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.
Austen, of course, would have been using the Authorized Version (AV, aka King James Version (KJV)) or some variant of that, for the RSV was authorized later. Here's the old AV for verse 5:
[Love] doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.
For the record, the AV uses an old term for "love," namely, "charity." Moreover, "thinketh no evil" does not immediately connote "is not . . . resentful." The larger passage, however, would lend itself to an understanding that true love is not resentful:
13:4 Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
The Greek behind the AV version, the so-called Textus Receptus, has the following for verse 5:
13:5 οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς οὐ παροξύνεται οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν
The phrase "οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν" is what the RSV has translated as "is not resentful." The term "λογίζομαι" (logizomai, pronounced lo-gē'-zo-mī) means "to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over" and can have the sense of "to take into account, to make an account of," or, metaphorically, "to pass to one's account, to impute." Since "κακός" (kakos, pronounced kä-ko's) means "evil," then "λογίζεται τὸ κακόν" (logizetai to kakos) could have the meaning of "to pass evil to (some)one's account," which would certainly overlap with the sense of "being resentful." The negative particle "οὐ" (ou, pronounced ü) negates the expression. Thus, true love is not resentful.

Of course, I can't assume that Jane Austen was reflecting on the meaning of the Greek original, but a next step would be to check old commentaries on 1 Corinthians 13:5 (and its context) to see if they offer any remarks on resentment.

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At 6:39 AM, Blogger Teacher Leo said...

Interesting - the connections made between grudges, envy, jealousy, holding to account and resentment.
And of course, love's role in overcoming this.
As I understand forgiveness, it is exactly this thing of no longer resenting a person for their actions towards you, no longer holding a person accountable to you for their actions that may have hurt you in some way.
Forgiving a debt means the debtor does not have to pay the money - truly not holding an account against someone.
And of course, to forgive, you need love - the desire to have the best things for the beloved. So, love truly cannot be resentful, since that would mean no forgiveness is possible.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Right, Teacher Leo, very well put. But I'll still need to see if Jane Austen was reflecting on Paul's words.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:25 AM, Blogger Teacher Leo said...

I've been pondering your question about a connection between what Jane Austen wrote and the Biblical passages discussed.
Given that her father served as a rector and given the general Christian/Anglican social structure of the gentry of England at that time, we can, I think, assume that she would be more than passingly familiar with the Bible, and indeed, given that so much of what she wrote can be read as moral parables, said Bible may well have served as a major source of material.
As to how to PROVE this - some more thinking and research looms ahead!

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, she must have been very familiar with the Bible and Christian doctrine. Yet, she touches on such things only very lightly. The surface of her novels is hardly explicitly Christian . . . but the depths seem to contain profound reflection on Christian themes.

Pride and resentment, for instance, characterize Satan's personality in Christian accounts of his rebellion, so Darcy's character -- proud and resentful -- is certainly problematic.

Jeffery Hodges

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