Volume 36 - Issue 3

Friends: The One With Jesus, Martha, And Mary;  An Answer To Kierkegaard

By Melvin Tinker


He was the youngest son of elderly parents. His childhood was secluded and unhappy, which might in some measure account for his lifelong melancholy. He studied theology but never proceeded towards ordination. He became engaged but never married. His works were sharp and penetrating, which he described as a "bit of cinnamon." He has been designated as the "father of existentialism," both Christian and secular, and his influence is still widely felt today. His name, of course, is Søren Kierkegaard.

He was the youngest son of elderly parents. His childhood was secluded and unhappy, which might in some measure account for his lifelong melancholy. He studied theology but never proceeded towards ordination. He became engaged but never married. His works were sharp and penetrating, which he described as a “bit of cinnamon.” He has been designated as the “father of existentialism,” both Christian and secular, and his influence is still widely felt today. His name, of course, is Søren Kierkegaard.

His sprinkling of cinnamon extended to the notion of friendship in his “Works of Love.” 1 Responses to what he wrote have tended to be, on the whole, hostile, sometimes portraying Kierkegaard as “the enemy of friendship.” Lorraine Smith Pangle, for instance, informs her readers, “Kierkegaard, with bold intransigence, rejects friendship as unchristian.” 2 Sandra Lynch repeats the charge: “Kierkegaard opposes friendship . . . to ‘love of neighbour'” and “dismisses friendship and [erotic] love altogether, as essentially forms of idolatry or self-love.” 3 Mark Vernon likewise polemically discards Kierkegaard’s analysis as “one man’s rant.” 4

1. Self-love vs. Neighbour-love

What was Kierkegaard’s chief concern that has led others to interpret him as the opponent of friendship? It would appear that his main anxiety was that friendship, along with erotic love, was “preferential” and so excluding of others. 5 The pagan poet, says Kierkegaard, extols both philia and eros: “The poet and Christianity are diametrically opposite in their explanations. The poet idolizes inclination . . . ; Christianity . . . dethrones inclination and sets this shall [i.e. the commanded nature of neighbour-love] in its place.”6

Kierkegaard illuminates the second great commandment (“You shall love your neighbour as yourself”) by focusing on preference and equality. Neighbour-love is “the opposite of preference,” whereas the concept of the friend by its nature, distinguishes my friend from those who are not my friend but nobody—neither stranger nor enemy—is to be excluded from the category of the neighbour; “the neighbour . . . is all people.” 7 We may have some sympathy with this view; after all, partiality is seen to be at odds with genuine love of neighbour according to James: “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (Jas 2:8-9). 8

But why is “friendship” invariably “preferential”? Is it because Kierkegaard regards friendship as a form of “self-love” that was construed as a form of selfish love?

Just as self-love selfishly embraces this one and only self that makes it self-love, so also erotic love’s passionate preference selfishly encircles this one and only beloved, and friendship’s passionate preference encircles this one and only friend. For this reason the beloved and the friend are called, remarkably and profoundly, to be sure, the other self, the other I. 9

In effect he is saying that love of my friend, like love of myself, excludes love for all those others who are not my friend. This is a trap into which love of the neighbour that embraces everyone does not fall. Moreover, the friend is called the “other self.” The idea here is that I see in my friend some reflection of myself, such that love for my friend is a kind of disguised self-love so that it is essentially narcissistic. This view has its roots in antiquity. Cicero, for example, says that man “is ever on the search for that companion, whose heart’s blood he may so mingle with his own that they become virtually one person instead of two.” 10 Friendship is then defined as “complete sympathy in all matters of importance, plus goodwill and affection.” Most famously in his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle sees a friend as a “second” or “other self.” Although this term is credited to Aristotle, it may go back even earlier to Pythagoras. 11 Near the start of his discussion, Aristotle mentions the idea of opposites attracting, but shortly afterwards he asserts, “Every friendship . . . is in accordance with some likeness. . . . Like is friend to like.” 12 Aristotle’s focus on similarity makes it natural for him to introduce his much celebrated metaphor of the friend as a mirror of the self. Perhaps the clearest expression of this is in the Magna Moralia:

We are not able to see what we are from ourselves . . . as then when we wish to see our own face, we do so by looking into the mirror, in the same way when we wish to know ourselves we can obtain that knowledge by looking at our friend. For the friend is, as we assert, a second self. If, then, it is pleasant to know oneself, and it is not possible to know this without having someone else for a friend, the self-sufficing man will require friendship in order to know himself.13

Kierkegaard considers the Aristotelian idea only in order to reject it.

Kierkegaard’s suspicion of the corrupting nature of Aristotelian friendship making it antithetical to neighbour-love is not entirely misplaced given the way people expressed it in the patron-client relationships that were integral to Greco-Roman society. 14 Aristotle argues that there are three kinds of “friendship” between equals (according to the “mirror” view of friendship): first, true friendship between virtuous people that is based upon goodwill and loyalty; second, friendship based on pleasure with people enjoying the same kind of things; and third, friendship based on need, which is essentially a utilitarian arrangement, something Aristotle derides.

Philosophical discussion tends to major upon the first of these. Philosophers consider that three core ideals apply to all genuine friendships: (1) virtue, displayed especially in terms of loyalty; (2) affection, showing goodwill for their own sake; and (3) mutual benefits, giving and receiving. Such a notion of friendship also entails the element of reciprocity and accordingly a sense of “obligation.”Thus, Seneca writes,”In the case of a benefit . . . the one should straightway forget that it was given, the other should never forget that it was received.” 15 Bruce Winter has exposed the corrosive effects that such a patron-client operational structure had upon relations in the early church. 16

One possibly detects traces of Aristotle’s “mirror” view of friendship in D.A. Carson’s popular treatment of John 15:14:

The fact remains that the Scriptures never refer to him [i.e., Jesus] by the noun friend. A moment’s reflection reveals why. The word friend can conjure up so reciprocal a relationship of affection that it would badly distort and misrepresent the relationship that actually exists between Jesus and his followers. In short, there is a danger of a chummy view of friendship which neither embraces real love nor preserves the fundamental distinction between Jesus and those he redeems. 17

By speaking of a “reciprocal relationship,”Carson seems to be assuming Aristotle’s “mirror” view of friendship. Thus, in the case of Jesus and “his friends” it must be qualified: “‘You are my friends if you do what I command’ (15:14): clearly, this friendship cannot be reciprocal!” 18

2. Martha, Mary, and Jesus: Friendship Reconfigured

Whilst allowing for some degree of non-reciprocity in the relationship of a disciple with Jesus (not along the axis of friend-friend, but Master-friend or Friend-friend), Jesus’s interaction with two female friends, Martha and Mary (John 11:5, 11), leads to a different conception of what constitutes friendship. This friendship is not Aristotle’s “soul sharing” variety. This incident gives some insight into what friendship with Jesus entails, how it is enriched, and how it might be hampered.

First, resentment can hinder friendship:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:38-40)

It would appear that Martha is the older sister, as indicated by the description, “her house” in verse 38. 19 Therefore, she is the one who shoulders the responsibility for making sure that things are arranged properly, which means that in a shame culture such as this, she would be shamed if the hospitality were not up to standard. Luke mentions Mary almost by way of contrast and to prepare us for the coming domestic upset. Mary simply sits “at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” She adopts the posture of a disciple before a rabbi (cf. Acts 22:3), and as the story unfolds, Jesus encourages the attitude expressed by her posture.

The focus of interest then shifts back to Martha. The verb περισπάω in the passive means to “be pulled, dragged away,” and so here, “to be distracted and busy to the point of being overburdened.” 20 The implication, suggests I. Howard Marshall, is that Martha wishes to be in Mary’s place but that her duty as hostess prevents it. That interpretation goes beyond what the text warrants, especially if it was highly unusual for a woman to sit at the feet of a rabbi. We may draw a more down-to-earth and less flattering inference from Martha’s demand in verse 40: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” The cause for resentment is that Martha has been left to prepare the meal by herself, while Mary, who is meant to share this responsibility, fails to help Martha. Consequently, Martha is burdened, and the meal may not be fully prepared, which would result in shameful hospitality.

After verse 38 names Jesus, the rest of the story refers to him only as “Lord”: Mary sat at “The Lord’s feet” (v. 39); Martha says,” Lord, don’t you care?”(v. 40); and “The Lord answered” (v. 41). It is possible that Luke is deliberately underscoring Jesus’ Lordship here, which makes Martha’s outburst all the more painfully inappropriate.

Martha’s resentment steadily builds until it finally bursts out. She has twisted serving the Lord into serving self. Kierkegaard offers valuable insight here. There is such a thing as self-love that can appear in the guise of other-centred love and that finds its way into Christian service. This may be seen in the way Martha frames her complaint: “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work alone? Tell her to help me.” Here is a warning particularly to those involved in Christian ministry. What is our response when coworkers do not appreciate us or when our leaders overlook us and members of the congregation do not appear to support us? That is when we can discover resentment to be lurking just beneath the surface. It is as subtle as it is effective. Consequently, with the passage of time our agenda becomes more important than God’s. Instead of seeking to please him in the service of others, we slip into pleasing self by serving others, looking for praise and craving adulation. It is then not long before God himself becomes the target for our disaffection if these are not forthcoming. We begin to question whether he really does care and whether he really does know what he is doing; otherwise he would have acted by now to help us out in the way we want. After all, if Jesus had been aware of what was going on, why hadn’t he told Mary to help her worn out sister hours ago?

What is more, this is a special danger for those of us who are by nature activists. It stands as a warning against the blatant pragmatism that characterises much modern-day evangelicalism. Yes, we are Jesus’ friends by virtue of our unity with him through believing the gospel, which shows itself in obeying his commands, but those commands are not always to be construed as “working” for him. After all, Jesus’ talk of the disciples being friends follows on from his call to “abide” or “remain” in him, which also involves being trimmed by the master gardener and so bearing fruit (John 15:1-8).

The Puritan Thomas Goodwin gives some advice on friendship with God:

Do we serve out of duty or delight? Mutual communion is the soul of all true friendship and a familiar converse with a friend hath the greatest sweetness in it . . . [so] besides the common tribute of daily worship you owe to [God], take occasion to come into his presence on purpose to have communion with him. This is truly friendly, for friendship is most maintained and kept up by visits; and these, the more free and less occasioned by urgent business . . . they are, the more friendly they are. . . . We use to check our friends with this upbraiding. You still [always] come when you have some business, but when will you come to see me? . . . When thou comest into his presence, be telling him still how well thou lovest him; labour to abound in expressions of that kind, than which . . . there is nothing more taking with the heart of any friend. 21

That seems to be a lesson that Mary had learned but not Martha.”‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her'” (vv.41-42).

The double vocative indicates that Jesus’ rebuke is couched in sympathetic terms. Jesus describes Martha as being unduly concerned (μεριμν?ω), which is sometimes associated with worldly concerns that can distract people away from God’s priorities (cf. 1 Cor 7:32-35). Θορυβ?ζω indicates a troubled frame of mind. She is troubled and distracted with “many things” (περ?πολλ?), which appears to refer to the excessive preparations for the meal.

3. A Different View of Friendship

Jesus and Martha introduce us to a different understanding of “friendship”than the “mirror” model of Aristotle and Kierkegaard. They introduce us to what Dean Cocking and Jeanette Kennett call the “drawing view” of friendship.22 Traditional views of friendship emphasize being “like the other,” which involves having things in common, and thus they are open to Kierkegaard’s criticism that friendship can degenerate into a form of self-love whereby you see the other as an extension of yourself.

C. S Lewis recognizes this but simply accepts it as intrinsic to friendship and warns against becoming too “precious” about such friendships: “every real friendship is a sort of secession, even a rebellion.”23 How so? Since friendship is by its very nature preferential, what Lewis is worried about—what he calls the “pride” of friendship—involves cliquishness: the friends set themselves up as an “us” defined in opposition to a “them.” This can degenerate even further into destroying the very basis of what gave birth to the friendship in the first place: “From the innocent and necessary act of excluding to the spirit of exclusiveness is an easy step; and thence to the degrading pleasure of exclusiveness.” 24 At the bottom of this slope, “The common vision which first brought us together may fade quite away. We shall be a coterie that exists for the sake of being a coterie; a little self-elected (and therefore absurd) aristocracy, basking in the moonshine of our collective self-approval.” 25 Lewis appears to focus on Aristotle’s second kind of friendship, based upon pleasure. Yet who can deny that this is not present in Christian circles, such that even within evangelicalism as a result of class or culture we have “inner rings”? 26

But there is often another aspect of friendship: difference. Accordingly, Sandra Lynch claims, “The friend in traditional concepts of friendship becomes an impossible idea—a reflection of oneself and perhaps even of one’s own narcissism—but never a challenge or threat; that is, never a genuine other.” 27 This is overcome and accounted for by the “drawing view” of friendship. Cocking and Kennett show that characteristic of being a close friend of another is being “receptive to being directed and interpreted and so in these ways drawn by the other.” Their claim is that people can be companion friends “precisely with respect to the ways in which they are dissimilar,” 28 that is, they are drawn to a person in some case because they are different.

This works itself out in everyday life in how “opposites attract.” Someone who is carefree can be attracted to someone who is cautious and vice versa. What is different about them helps forge the friendship in complementing each other, so together they get on very well. The cautious one can never be like the carefree friend, but they find that trait attractive; the carefree one can find the cautious trait attractive and values it because it forms a corrective for them.

So it is here. Martha is not like Jesus, and Jesus is not like Mary (or anyone else for that matter except that he is human). But Martha, Mary, and the other disciples are being “receptive to being directed and interpreted” (to use the phrase of Cocking and Kennett). In part is this not another way of understanding Jesus’ words, “You are my friends if you do what I command”? In this pericope in Luke’s Gospel, Martha is receptive to being directed and interpreted by Jesus. This illustrates an important point by Cocking and Kennett: having “one’s interests and attitudes directed, interpreted, and so drawn . . . is . . . both typical and distinctive of companion friendships, yet this has been largely neglected in philosophical literature on the subject.” 29 As John Lippitt rightly says, quoting the previous authors with approval, “This addresses a key feature of friendship that the ‘secrets’ and ‘mirror’ views do not: ‘It is not that I must reveal myself to, or see myself in, the other, to any great extent, but that, in friendship, I am distinctively receptive both to the other’s interests and to their way of seeing me.'” 30 In other words, it is a matter of seeing ourselves through our friends’ eyes—in the case of Jesus, of course, God’s eyes—and so it is in beginning to see ourselves more and more as we actually are that our self-knowledge and self-awareness is enhanced. It is very difficult to see how this would ever be so on the basis of the “mirror” or “other-self” model of friendship. The result is that we are actually changed by that friendship—hopefully for the better, which in the case of our friendship with Jesus means becoming more like him (Eph 4:20-5:2).

Thus, with our friendship with Jesus we find ourselves facing an interesting situation: a gradual moving towards a modified “mirroring view” of friendship, reflecting more and more the image of Christ through a “drawing view” of friendship. It modifies the mirroring view in that unlike Aristotle’s preferential friendship that is construed as being drawn to those “like us,” the one we begin to mirror in ever increasing degrees by his grace is the friend of those who are not like him; after all, he is “the friend of tax collectors and sinners.” It is by being receptive to being directed and interpreted by Jesus that our friendship with him is thus enriched. 31

However, the way Jesus treats Martha illustrates another aspect of friendship that has concerned thinkers in the past: flattery and frankness, distinguishing a feigned friendship from a genuine one. Cicero and Plutarch, among others, wrestled with this, as did later Christian writers such as Basil the Great and Jerome. Flattery destroys friendship, and true friendship demands a degree of frankness. 32 This is precisely what Jesus exhibits with Martha in this episode. He corrects her because he loves her, and, hopefully, she receives the correction because it is proper and she wants to change. If that is the case, then there is a legitimate self-love, loving oneself to such an extent that you want to improve the self.

4. Establishing Right Priorities

When Jesus says,”only one thing is needful,” to what is he referring? Is it that only one course is required and so a call for a simple meal? That is possible since some ancient manuscripts we read “few things [ο?λι?γων] are needful—or only one [ε?νο?ς].”” 33 After all, verse 38 says that Jesus and his followers were “on their way.” The time he has to spend with the two sisters is limited, and it will be a long time before he visits them again. Maybe Jesus wants Martha to keep the meal simple and maximise the use of time by listening to Jesus’ teaching.

Luke emphasizes what Mary is doing: “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” This is the “one thing” which is needful, namely, attending Jesus’ teaching. Kenneth Bailey brings the practical and spiritual together:

Jesus does not reply to her [i.e., Martha’s] words but to their meaning. In context his answer communicates the following: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things. I understand the entire list. One thing is needed. What is missing is not one more plate of food but rather for you to understand that I am providing the meal and that your sister has already chosen the good portion, I will not allow you to take it from her. A good student is more important to me than a good meal.” 34

Here then is the “communing” of which Goodwin speaks. Mary is putting into practice what Jesus emphasizes: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word which comes from the mouth of God” (Deut 8:3 in Luke 4:4). That priority is underscored elsewhere (Luke 8:19-21; 11:28). We are back to what Cocking and Kennett say about the nature of friendship between like and unlike, being “receptive to being directed and interpreted and so in these ways drawn by the other.”

The problem with Martha is that in all her busyness she has placed herself outside the sphere of hearing God’s Word: “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Before we can first serve Jesus, we must first hear Jesus. Mary realises this, and she is not going to be robbed of its blessing. In this Mary appears to be exemplifying something Nietzsche says about friendship: “a thirst for something higher.” 35 D.A. Carson is surely right that there cannot be total parity or reciprocity in our friendship with Jesus; he is that something higher. But that is not to say that there is no reciprocity at all; at the very least there is the friendship Jesus receives from Martha and Mary in terms of their hospitality and their person. Jesus’ relationship with Mary and Martha gives us a glimpse into that feature of friendship that Mark Vernon describes as the desire to “know and be known.” With Martha such knowledge may have been gained the hard way; with Mary it was the Lord’s prescribed way. After all, “Mary has chosen what is better.”

5. Jesus as the “Middle Term”

We have seen that Kierkegaard’s opposition to the “mirror view of friendship” has some legitimacy, but what shape does his alternative “neighbour love” take? Interestingly enough, God is essential to expressing and experiencing such a love; here he refers to God as “the middle term.” Whereas “worldly wisdom” holds love to be a relation between persons, “Christianity teaches that love is a relationship between: a person-God-a person, that is, that God is the middle term.” 36 Augustine expresses a similar thought: “No friends are true friends unless you, my God, bind them fast to one another through that love which is sown in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” 37 This raises a number of interesting points.

First, given that Kierkegaard considers God to be the vital element in neighbour-love friendship, it is surprising , as Lippitt observes, that he does not explore the notion of friendship with God. 38

Second, given the nature of the intra-Trinitarian relationships where there is an eternal love expressed between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, such that while being distinct persons they can nonetheless be conceived as “other like-selves” so that in the Son we have a true revelation of the Father (e.g., John 14: 9; Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15), it is surprising that this doctrine does not check the limits of Kierkegaard’s criticism of mirror friendship. In a profound sense, such a mirror friendship takes place within the Trinity, although “friendship” is too weak a term to describe the intra-Trinitarian love. This raises a big question mark against those views that consider the love between Christians as being inferior to either neighbour-love or love of enemies. D. A. Carson takes up this point:

in one crucial chapter in John’s Gospel, God’s intra-Trinitarian love is set forth as the model and standard of Christians loving Christians. “I have made you known to them,” Jesus tells his Father, “and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:26). It is very difficult to deprecate the love of Christians for Christians, indeed the unity that Jesus mandates among Christians, without simultaneously deprecating God’s intra-Trinitarian love and the very unity of the Godhead. 39

It is here that we see how the drawing view of friendship develops to take on the modified form of the mirror view of friendship as outlined above so that we can, even within the Christian fellowship, love our “little enemies.”40

Third, for the early Christians it was not “God” in the abstract who was the “middle term” in their love of neighbour and each other; it is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This led to radically reconfiguring the contemporary notions of friendship in the Greco-Roman world in terms of relations between believers. Gordon Fee considers this to be crucial to correctly understanding Paul’s letter to the Philippians. 41 He argues that to describe this letter as a “hortatory letter of friendship” is only part of the story,

For in Paul’s hands everything turns into gospel, including both formal and material aspects of such a letter. Most significantly, friendship in particular is radically transformed from a two-way to a three-way bond—between him, the Philippians, and Christ. And obviously it is Christ who is the center and focus of everything. Paul’s and their friendship is predicated on their mutual “participation/partnership” in the gospel. This involves them in most of the conventions of Greco-Roman friendship, including social reciprocity, but it does so in light of Christ and the Gospel. 42

It is instructive to see how the “drawing view of friendship” works itself out in the letter. Contrary to the way the patron-client relationship degenerated into an ugly form of “one-upmanship” and social control in the ancient world, Paul urges Christians, “Look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). Paul then urges adopting the “mind of Christ,” which he breathtakingly portrays in the great “hymn” of Phil 2:6-11. As Christians respond to this “word,” as Mary did and as Jesus exhorted Martha to do, the great transformation begins. Timothy, Epaphroditus, and Paul themselves are models to imitate (2:14-30). But it is especially in the final chapter that the transforming power of the gospel on the nature of friendship is most evidenced (4:10-20). Fee observes,

As to the matter of “friendship”: Although dealing primarily with “his affairs,” in reality this section links his and their affairs together at the most significant point of “friendship,” that of mutual giving and receiving (v. 15). Indeed, much that puzzles us in this section is related to this phenomenon. Three matters intertwine: First is his [i.e., Paul’s] genuine gratitude for their recent gift, expressed three times in three variations (vv. 10a, 14, 18). This is set, secondly, within the framework of Greco-Roman “friendship,” based on mutuality and reciprocity, evidenced by “giving and receiving”—a theme that gets “strained” in this case because of (a) his being on the receiving end of that for which he has nothing to give in return and (b) their “mutuality” also carries some of the baggage of a “patron/client” relationship, due to his role as apostle of Jesus Christ. Third, and most significantly (and typically!), this sociological reality is rather totally subsumed under the greater reality of the gospel; thus the whole climaxes in doxology. 43

And so Fee rightly notes, “In Paul’s hands the gospel gives new meaning even to the sociological reality of ‘friendship.'” 44

6. Conclusion

Cinnamon has its place in giving flavour to food, but it is hardly substantial in itself. Likewise, Kierkegaard’s contemplations on the nature of friendship have some corrective value over and against the Aristotelian views that still impact the West today, but they are inadequate to stand alone. The drawing view of friendship complements the mirror view. The pericope of Martha, Mary, and Jesus is suggestive of the way the drawing view can merge into the mirror view “by being receptive to being directed and interpreted”; by Jesus we become more like him so we ourselves become a “mirror” reflecting more faithfully the image of God. 45 In the letter to the Philippians, the power of the Word of the gospel to some degree subverts and transmutes the Greco-Roman notions of friendship into something of a different order. In some measure this reflects within the Christian community and within their relationship with Paul the intra-Trinitarian “other person centred” love upon which it is grounded. Thorough-going Kierkegaardians may have difficulty in singing the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” but those who know the power of the gospel can sing it with conviction.

1 Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love (trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995 [henceforth WL]).

2 Lorraine Smith Pangle, Aristotle and the Philosophy of Friendship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 3.

3 Sandra Lynch, Philosophy and Friendship (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 35.

4 Mark Vernon, The Philosophy of Friendship (London: Palgrave, 2005), 77-78.

5 For a penetrating analysis, see John Lippitt, “Cracking the Mirror: On Kierkegaard’s Concerns about Friendship,” Journal for Philosophy of Religion 61 (2007): 131-50.

6 WL, 50.

7 WL, 52.

8 Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from NIV (The Holy Bible, The New International Version) Copyright, 1995, The Zondervan Company. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

9 WL, 53-54.

10 Cicero, “On Friendship,” in De Amicitia (ed. Michael Pakaluk; trans. Frank Copley in Other Selves, Philosophers on Friendship, (Indianapolis: Hackett,1991) 108.

11 See Carolinne White, Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 19.

12 All quotations are from the following edition: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (trans. with a commentary by Michael Pakaluk; Oxford: Clarendon, 1998), Books VIII-IX.

13 Some Aristotle scholars claim that this text is probably not genuinely by Aristotle. However, others like Lippit argue that since it encapsulates ideas found in other Aristotelian texts of less dubious quality it is legitimate to refer to it. Op cit., ‘Cracking the Mirror’.

14 See Richard P. Saller, Personal Patronage under the Early Roman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982); Stanley K. Stowers, “Friends and Enemies in the Politics of Heaven: Reading Theology in Philippians,” in Pauline Theology I: Thessalonians, Philippians, Galatians, Philemon (ed. Jouette M. Bassler; SBL Symposium Series; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002), 105-21.

15 Seneca, De Beneficiss 2.10 (Moral Essays [trans. John W. Basore; 3 vols.; LCL; Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1928-35], 3.67).

16 Bruce W. Winter, After Paul Left Corinth: The Influence of Secular Ethics and Social Change (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), esp. pp. 184-211.

17 D. A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14-17 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 105.

18 Ibid.

19 See Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary (TNTC 3; Downers Grove: IVP, 1988), 191.

20 I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 452.

21 As cited by J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990), 208.

22 Dean Cocking and Jeanette Kennett, “Friendship and the Self,” Ethics 108 (1998): 502-27.

23 C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1960), 80.

24 Ibid., 84

25 Ibid., 85.

26 C. S. Lewis, “The Inner Ring,” in Screwtape Proposes a Toast (Fontana, UK: Collins, 1973), 28-40.

27 Lewis, The Four Loves, 82.

28 Cocking and Kennett, 503.

29 Ibid., 505.

30 Lippitt, “Cracking the Mirror,”141.

31 Below we touch upon some of the implications this has for the way Christians should relate to each other as friends.

32 See White, Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century, 39, 74, 81, 140.

33 P3 B L fl 33 sy h mg bo.

34 Kenneth Bailey, “Jesus and Women,” in Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes (Downers Grove: IVP, 2008), 193-94.

35 “There is apparently, here and there on earth a kind of continuation of love where this greedy desire of two persons for each other has given way to a new craving and greed, a common higher thirst for an ideal that stands above them: but who knows this love? Who has experienced it? Its true name is friendship.” The Gay Science, quoted by Walter Kaufman in Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 366.

36 WL, 107.

37 Augustine, Conf., Book IV, Sect. 4.

38 Lippitt, “Cracking the Mirror,” 148.

39 D. A. Carson, Love in Hard Places (Wheaton: Crossway, 2002), 60.

40 Ibid., 52-64.

41 Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995).

42 Ibid., 13.

43 Ibid., 423-24.

44 Ibid., 424n9.

45 “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He (God) is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we are ‘gods’ and he is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—he will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God. . . . His own boundless power and delight and goodness” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity [Fount, England: Collins, 1978], 172.

Melvin Tinker

The Reverend Melvin Tinker is senior minister of St John, Newland, Hull, UK. He has contributed a number of articles to Themelios over the years and is the author of several books, his latest being Intended for Good: The Providence of God (IVP, 2012).

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