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Toni MorrisonMemory and Meaning$
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Adrienne Lanier Seward and Justine Tally

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781628460193

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2015

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628460193.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

“And the Greatest of These”

“And the Greatest of These”

Toni Morrison, the Bible, Love

(p.119) “And the Greatest of These”
Toni Morrison

Katherine Clay Bassard

University Press of Mississippi

While the subject of love assumes a variety of forms in Morrison’s work, this essay proposes to look at her meditation(s) on love in light of her readings and (re)readings of the Christian Bible. In the Greek New Testament, three different Greek words are translated as “love” in English which divides the concept of love into Eros or human sexual love, philos, brotherly or communal love, and agape which refers to divine or transcendent love. Bassard’s essay considers these questions: In what sense is Morrison playing with the implications of “God is love” as an absolute equivalence? How might we survey Morrison’s novels in light of the biblical insistence on agape as a higher type of love than Eros or philos? Finally, how does Morrison seek to reclaim love (in any or all of these registers) as an ethical mandate to break the cycle of racism, sexism and other oppressions? (150 words)

Keywords:   love, Eros, philos, agape, the Bible

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