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Eros and the Bible

Updated on June 22, 2015
BlossomSB profile image

Bronwen was a teacher for over forty years. Degrees include School Librarianship, Psycholinguistics and Theology, and Applied Linguistics.

Eros design on a bobbin, c470 BC
Eros design on a bobbin, c470 BC | Source

Eros in Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology Eros was the god of love. According to the story, he was the fourth god to appear when the world began. He is mentioned in Greek writings as far back as 700 BC. In early times he was a cult figure and later he was worshipped by a fertility cult.

In illustrations we find that Eros was always pictured as an adult in Greek mythology, but in Roman mythology the god of love was seen as a child called Cupid.

From both these sources we find a number of words in English that are connected with different areas of romantic and sexual love, such as erotic, erotica, erotomania, erogenous and even cupidity.

Eros as a Concept

The usually accepted concept of eros is that the word represents the love between a man and a woman. It also suggests passionate physical desire, as we can see from the English words above that are derived from it.

Psychologically speaking, eros is linked with self-preserving instincts as opposed to self-destructive instincts. Looked at from this viewpoint we can see that this notion seems to put the focus of eros on gratification for self, rather than on giving pleasure to another.

The Old Testament Concept

In my previous article, Love and the Bible, four Greek words for love were mentioned. The first was eros. When we think about romantic, sexual love and the Bible, our thoughts probably go firstly to Adam and Eve and the concept that the love they shared must have been perfect before their temptation and the Fall. Then our thoughts probably go to the beautiful images invoked by the poetry of The Song of Solomon.

However, the Old Testament was not written in Greek, but mostly in Hebrew. I have read that there are several Hebrew words that are translated into English as 'love,' but that they actually have subtly different meanings. The most frequent is aheb (a Hebrew root). It was originally used to describe fertility cults in ancient civilisations and also the passionate love between a man and a woman.

Aheb is found in the Bible over two hundred times. The first to use it there was Hosea and instead of linking it with local fertility cults he linked it with marriage.

Indian Christian Wedding
Indian Christian Wedding | Source

Eros and Christian Marriage

Eros, from a human vantage point, is a wonderful gift that God has given to couples to celebrate their love of each other. It's a delight for husband and wife to share this kind of love, not just for procreation, but as an expression of joy in their union.

And what a delight that can be, especially when that union is begun and ended in prayers of praise to our Heavenly Father for such a gift!


Eros and God

In The Old Testament, the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, puts God first. Most of the Commandments are negative but those concerned with God and loving one's neighbour are positive.

We are told to 'worship only God.' Is worship connected with loving God? If we are to obey the Commandments, then surely when we worship him it must embrace adoring reverence and awe. This is a different kind of love from what we think of as being connected with eros.

Hosea used that Hebrew root, aheb, which was originally defined in a very similar way to eros, but he gave it a new meaning. Aheb, as we have seen, was used to describe pagan fertility cults, but Hosea extended and raised its meaning; in fact, it was completely and subtly changed so the word could be used to describe love and the One True God. By connecting the personal quality of aheb Hosea contributed to humanity's growing understanding of God's great love as He gradually revealed more and more facets of HIs character in the Old Testament writings over a long period of time. Like eros, aheb is personal, spontaneous and intense, but it goes so much further and is lifted to a much higher plane.

The intensity and joy of eros and aheb in human love, helps us to gain a greater understanding of how deeply God loves us. What a joy it can be when we accept His love and channel our delight and joy into the intensity of our love and praise for Him.

The intensity and beauty of sunrise
The intensity and beauty of sunrise | Source

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    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 22 months ago from southern USA

      This is one awesome piece here on Eros love. I read C.S. Lewis' book on the Four Types of Love and have written poetry to try to define their meaning, and I must confess I love your article here much better than his book, as relates to Eros love and the Bible. Yes, it is certainly intense, but as you so beautifully have written ...it does help us to gain a greater understanding of how deeply God loves us.

      Thank you for this superb hub here, dear Blossom.

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      God bless you and praise Him for knowing of such a great love He has revealed and shown us

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 22 months ago from Queensland Australia

      A wonderful and interesting hub Blossom. Faith Reaper aid it all. Voted up.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      A wonderful piece. You have so much to offer it is a joy to learn from your writing. Eros it would seem to me, matures. As I grow my love for my wife is becoming interestingly similar to my love of God or perhaps I have that in reverse. At any rate they are both growing in intensity of heart.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      Beautifully written hub from the heart.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      Beautifully written hub from the heart.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 22 months ago from East London, South Africa

      It is interesting that "eros" does not even appear in the New Testament. Certainly we can look at it from a human point of view as I do as a Christian counselor but the Bible writers were more interested in "agape" which is a self-sacrificing love that gives and expects nothing in return.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 22 months ago from California

      Very interesting hub and wonderful comments! I learned something new today--thank you!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 22 months ago from southern USA

      In reading Johan's comment here, I am of the same understanding that Eros love is not mentioned in the New Testament, but only Agape love, that divine love, which is my favorite type of love. Yes, to love as Christ, we are to be selfless and love others as He loves, that unconditional love.

      God bless you

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 22 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Dear Faith Reaper, you take my breath away with your lovely comments! You are a great encourager! Yes, I have read C.S. Lewis's Four Loves, but I think he was looking at it from an academic and philosophical point of view. I began to write this series in reply to a friend who asked, "Do you love God?" How much more He loves us! We have a great God - may He bless you richly.

      Jodah: Thank you and God bless you, fellow Aussie!

      Ericdierker: Yes! Eros, and our understanding of this type of love, grows as we mature and our love for God and our partners broadens and deepens. God bless you both.

      FlourishAnyway: Bless you, twice over!

      Johan Smulders: That is true, but the intensity that I wrote about certainly is there. I think that perhaps you did not read my first hub on this topic: Love and the Bible. That discussed love in general terms and this is the first of a series of three articles that will look more deeply at each of the types of love in the Bible. What a privilege to be a Christian Counsellor, may God bless you in your work - and those you counsel, too, as He uses you as a channel of His love and peace.

      AudreyHowitt: They are wonderful comments and they make me feel very humble and unworthy. Thank you and God bless you!

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 22 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Faith Reaper: As I wrote to Johan, he is correct, it is not mentioned there, but the essence of it can be found in the intensity of love as we often find it in the New Testament. However, the next two types are found there, and I will deal with them in future hubs. Thank you and blessings!

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 22 months ago

      Irresistible are God's gifts to children of man. Eros is also His gift of love gratefully received. A gift.

      Voted interesting.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton

      Blossom what an interesting and well written hub.. which Im sure meets all of hub page standards and beyond.. : Eros is the physical, sensual love between a husband and wife.... love the hub

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 22 months ago from london

      Excellent Hub on Love and how it relates to the Bible. You shared great Light on looking at Eros. It has led to many passionate books and carnal orientated knowledge. I've always preferred the Eastern gods and goddesses, even though I grew up in Christianity. They're infinitely purer.

      The Greeks and Romans made a lot of paganism out of their God's and their uses, and the ancient Eastern Seers and Rishis, tried to take us to the Divine.

      Well-written and wonderfully interesting Hub. Much Love.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 22 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Michael-Milec: It is a wonderful gift and so rewarding when we use it the right way. Bless you.

      Frank Atanacio: Thank you so much for your comment. Of course it goes so much further, too, which helps to make it so enriching.

      mamatita44: God bless you! Thank you for your lovely and interesting comments. There is true purity in this kind of love when it is used wisely.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 22 months ago from The Caribbean

      The idea of a love that is linked with self-preserving instincts, only heightens the beauty of that same love between man and wife. It means that they have to love each other in the same way that each loves him or herself. Thanks for sharing these beautiful insights.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 22 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      This was very tastefully done, explained well, and brings a whole new meaning to the embodiment of this type of love.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 22 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      MsDora: Thank you so much for your lovely, affirming comments. God bless you.

      aviannovice: It does bring a new meaning to this beautiful type of love. Thank you for your comments. Also my apology for not yet doing the hub for the next type of love. So much has been happening, but I will do it!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 22 months ago

      Thank you for defining eros in Biblical terms. The love of God is the greatest satisfaction one can attain in life. Once you know Him, you can truly love others.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 21 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      teaches12345: It does give it a whole new meaning, doesn't it? Until we know God's love we cannot know true love of others. Thank you!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 6 months ago from San Diego California

      Thanks for taking the sin out of sex. Sexual contact between husband and wife is something that should be celebrated, not condemned.

      Funny how subtle changes in the meaning of a single word we have in English can alter the translation of the scriptures. If we could actually read Hebrew, how would that effect our overall understanding of the Bible? I also find it interesting, as you pointed out here, how different prophets evolved Judaism along in different directions, just through their word choices. Great hub.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 6 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Mel Carriere: Those special times between husband and wife are certainly to be celebrated, rejoiced over, and to give thanks for to our Creator.

      I, too, would love to be able to read Hebrew, and Greek, too, but as we grow older it becomes more difficult, so I think I've left that one a bit too late! Yes, the choice of words, even in English, can alter meanings. Thank you for your comments.

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