The Washing of the Feet
§ 1. General Reflections on Vainglory and Pride
IN Evagrius and Cassian the logismoi of vainglory and pride overlap to a considerable extent. They are frequently listed together; and the same spiritual remedies, such as humility and recognition of grace, are often recommended for both.
IN general it can be said that vainglory seeks recognition and adulation from other human beings; while pride refuses to acknowledge the truth of one's relationship with God. Although vainglory seeks the wrong thing from community, experiencing others chiefly as mirrors for its own accomplishments, is still involved in the web of interpersonal relationships. Pride, however, attempts to step out of relationships altogether, thus driving a wedge of separation between the self and God. By positing an impossible and non-existing universe where the self occupies the center, it invites the self to live in an isolating illusion. Twisting the precious gift of free will and the capacity to contemplate, it invites the self to fashion an illusory existence where both other people and God come to be seen as unimportant and, eventually, irrelevant.
THUS virtues and concepts particularly important for the cure of these vices include: community (koinonia), where gifts can be experienced as the expression and result of our interactions with one another; and humility (tapeinophrosune), understood especially as truthful, honest acknowledgement of our indebtedness to one another and above all to the grace (charis) of God.
The following word-studies are based on: Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich,( Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI): A Greek-English lexicon, Liddell, H. G., Scott, R., Jones, H. S., & McKenzie, R. 1996. (Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press: Oxford; New York).
VAINGLORY: κενοδοξία (kenodoxia):
1. “Delusion.” a favorite word of Epicurus; also found in Philo (Philo Mut. Nom. , 96 ; Leg. Gaj. , 114 ; Wis. 14:14 . This sense is not found in the New Testament, although it is common in the post-apostolic Fathers. Ign.Mgn., 11 Herm., 8, 9,
2. “ Boasting,” “vainglory,” 4 Macc. 2:15 9:19; Phil. 2:3 Ign. Phld. , 1, 1 ; 1 Cl., 35, 5
VAINGLORIOUS: κενόδοξος (kenodoxos): One who is able or who tries to establish an unfounded opinion (κενὴ δόξα – kenē doxa - empty opinion), glories in empty distinctions, one who talks big, who is boastful, conceited and vainglorious, Paul admonishes us in Gal. 5:26: “let us not be boasters.”
COMMUNITY: κοινωνία (koinonia), Communion, association, partnership, fellowship, in law a contract of partnership, community of possession or communal possession, For Paul koinonia is an abstract and spiritual term for the fellowship of brotherly concord established and expressed in the life of the community. […] Fellowship with Christ necessarily leads to fellowship with Christians, to the mutual fellowship of members of the community. […] Paul [also] uses koinonia for the religious fellowship (participation) of the believer in Christ and Christian blessings, and for the mutual fellowship of believers. According to 1 Cor. 1:9 Christians are called to fellowship (participation) with the Son. […] They enter into a spiritual communion with the risen Lord. Paul [also] makes highly significant use of koinonia for the fellowship which arises in the Lord’s Supper. Participation in Christ, which is known basically and perfectly in faith, is achieved and experienced in enhanced form, […] in the sacrament, 1 Cor. 10:16 ff.
HUMILITY: ταπεινοφροσύνη (tapeinofrosunē)
1. lowness of stature;
2. of condition, low estate, abasement;
3. lowness of spirits, dejection;
4. in moral sense, baseness, vileness.
In Phil. 2:3 Paul requires tapeinofrosunē from the community. Not “self-seeking” nor “vainglorious boasting” (kenodoxia as self-glory) should control their mutual relations but tapeinofrosunē . The opposite gives this the sense of unselfishness. The two sentences which follow show that it is the resolution to subject oneself to others and to be more concerned about their welfare than one’s own, v. 4.65 The term humility thus catches up what Jesus said about greatness through service, II, 84, 1 ff. It is given its distinctive shape by Jesus’ own conduct, which in Phil. 2:5–11 is viewed from a standpoint which serves as the basis of Paul’s admonition, 2:1–4 18, 6 ff. By the Christ event the submission of man to God is made also the content of relations between men, since God Himself acts thus in Christ. Human beings now subordinate themselves to others in service. This has nothing whatever to do with self-disparagement or servility.
PRIDE: ὑπερηφᾰνία , arrogance, contempt towards or for
—mostly in bad sense, overweening, arrogant, . Adv., - e bear
oneself proudly, living sumptuously, prodigally,
Rarely in good sense, magnificent, splendid, sublime.
GRACE : χάρις (charis)
a. The basis of the usage is the relation to χαίρω (chairō) to rejoice, be glad, be delighted- χάρις is what delights
1. outward grace or favour [as we say well or ill favoured], grace, loveliness, of persons, pl. graces, charms,
2. grace or favour felt, whether on the part of the Doer or the Receiver a. on the part of the Doer, grace, graciousness, kindness, goodwill b. on the part of the Receiver, the sense of favour received, thankfulness, thanks, gratitude, c. favour, influence, as opp. to force,
3. a favour done or returned, a grace, kindness,
4. a gratification, delight,
5. homage due to the deities their worship, majesty, an offering in consequence of a vow, Aesch.
The word is widely used in classical Greek it is the “favour” of the gods in Aesch.Ag., 182, 581.11 It is very common in poetry and prose, Plat.Leg., VII, 796c; VIII, 844d. Though there is reference to the favor of the gods is not a key religious term Nor is it a philosophical term, cf. Plat.; thus it means “good-pleasure” in Gorg., 462c; Soph., 222e, “favour,” “good-will,” Symp., 183b, “joy,” “pleasure,” Phaedr., 254a, “what pleases” (the gods), Leg., VII, 976c “favour,” Leg., VIII, 844d, “thanks” , Phileb., 54d; cf. the
St. Paul uses this word to expound the structure of the salvation event. The linguistic starting-point is the sense of “making glad by gifts,” of showing free unmerited grace. The element of freedom in giving is constitutive,R. 3:24 f.; cf. 4:1ff.; 5:15, 17. Unlike Philo, Paul orientates himself, not to the question of the nature of God, but to the historical manifestation of salvation in Christ. He does not speak of the gracious God; he speaks of the grace that is actualized in the cross of Christ (Gal. 2:21, cf. vv. 15–20) and that is an actual event in proclamation.
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