[ by Charles Cameron — on the distinction between philo and agapo in Greek, loyalty and honesty in public service ]
If you are familiar with the Gospel of John, you may recall the passage in which Christ questions Peter (upper panel below) which is often rendered in English “Do you love me?” “You know that I love you” (thrice — but which is subtler in the Greek, since Christ twice asks Peter if he loves him (unselfishly, most deeply), to which Peter responds that he likes him (feels affectionate or friendy love for him) — and on the third occasion, Christ uses Peter’s choice of verb, “Do you feel friendoy towards me?” and Peter answers, “Yes, you know I do.”
There’s an eerie echo of that conversation in Jim Comey‘s prepared remarks for his tesimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence tomorrow (lower panel, above).
Comey twice avoids giving his verbal assent to loyalty, which Trump each time asks for, ansd on the third occasion goes part way to meet him with an assurance of “honest loyalty.”
Comey goes on to testify:
As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term – honest loyalty – had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.
Both Christ and Comey strike me as attempting twice to hold their interlocutor to a higher standard than that which he proposes, while tactfully making a verbal concession on the third attempt…