Some say the use of ἀγαπάω (agapao) in the New Testament must be understood as the exclusive verb form of ἀγάπη (agape). The Septuagint does not appear to reflect this understanding.
In the LXX, the use of agape is limited: only 14 verses, 10 in the Song of Solomon. The LXX translators also used ἀγάπησιν, another form of agape, in 8 places. For example in David's lament over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan:
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. (2 Samuel 1:26 ESV)
ἀλγῶ ἐπὶ σοί ἄδελφέ μου Ιωναθαν ὡραιώθης μοι σφόδρα ἐθαυμαστώθη ἡ ἀγάπησίς σου ἐμοὶ ὑπὲρ ἀγάπησιν γυναικῶν
The LXX translator used ἀγάπησίς not agapao. In this case, apparently the translator understood a meaning of the noun agape which the verb agapao did not correctly convey and used of a different form of agape, ἀγάπησίς (a word not used in the New Testament).
In Jeremiah, both ἀγάπησιν and ἠγάπησά are used:
the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (31:3 ESV)
κύριος πόρρωθεν ὤφθη αὐτῷ ἀγάπησιν αἰωνίαν ἠγάπησά σε διὰ τοῦτο εἵλκυσά σε εἰς οἰκτίρημα
Again, apparently the translator understood a meaning of agape which agapao did not convey and used a different word.
The use in the Septuagint demonstrates the verb agapao is not the exclusive means to express the meaning of the noun agape. This raises questions:
- What is the significance of using ἀγάπησιν rather than agapao in the LXX? Does this demonstrate a wider range of meaning of agape which required 2 different forms to express?
- Given the use in the LXX should agapao be considered as the exclusive means to express agape in the New Testament? Or did writers simply choose to express the "other than agapao" meaning of agape differently than the LXX? (For example, rather than use a single word like ἀγάπησιν, they gave examples and detailed descriptions.)