Friendship in the Gospels

Team Members/Contributors

Peter Dula Eastern Mennonite University Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

In the extensive and illuminating body of literature that has emerged about the relationship between agape (universal, unconditional love) and philia (the love shared by friends), the full range of scriptural resources has yet be utilized. While John 15 and the love command in Matthew 22 get attention, no one has tried to read the Gospels as stories of friendship among Jesus, the twelve, and others such as Mary and Martha. Instead, the major resources have been Aristotle, Aquinas, Kierkegaard and Barth. This relative lack of attention to scripture is problematic not just because it deprives the discussion of a crucial source of insight, but because it contributes to extending and reinforcing the gap between the academy (where such texts are the common reading of graduate seminars) and the pulpit (where the close reading of the Gospels is the weekly practice). The pastor seeking to preach on friendship can find only limited resources in the academic library and so has little guidance in addressing what is arguably the most significant part of our moral lives. In this project, I hope to model an alternative. Through close readings of specific instances of Jesus interacting with his friends, I will provide an account of friendship that can be placed in a mutually enriching conversation with Aristotle, Kierkegaard and others.