3. Very occasionally certain words attributed to Christ make singular contrast to His habitual manner of speaking, so much so that we instinctively repel their literal sense without causing the sublimity of His doctrine to suffer damage. Written after His death, since none of the Evangelists wrote while He was alive, it is licit to believe that in cases like these the depth of His thoughts were not expressed or, which is no less possible, the original sense while having been passed from one language to another has consequently suffered some alteration. It is sufficient that a small error be committed but once, for those who copy to continue to repeat it, as frequently happens in the relating of historical facts.
The term hate in the phrase from Luke: if any man come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife and children - should be understood by the light of this hypothesis. It would not occur to anyone to attribute these words to Jesus. So then, it would be superfluous to discuss it or even less to try to justify it. For this it would be necessary first to know if He pronounced them, and if He had, whether in the idiom in which they were expressed the word in question had the same meaning as it does in our language. In this passage from John: "He who hates his life in this world will conserve himself for the eternal life," there is no doubt that Jesus did not attach the same meaning as we do to these words.
The Hebraic language was not rich in expressions and contained many words which had varied meanings. Such a one, for example, is that in Genesis used to describe the phases of creation. It also served simultaneously to express a given period of time and the period of a day. Later on, from this situation came the translation into the term a day, and the belief that the world was created in a period that lasted six times twenty-four hours. Another was the word used to designate both camel and a rope, since the ropes were made of camel hair. This is why they translated the word into the term 'camel' in the allegory of the eye of the needle (Chapter 16, item 2). *
Furthermore, it behoves us to pay attention to the customs and character of the various peoples, which have a very great influence over the particular nature of their language. Without this knowledge, the true meanings of certain words frequently escape us. The same term when passed from one language to another may gain either more or less strength. In one it may involve insult and blasphemy, while in another it may totally lack importance, according to the idea it provokes. Even in the same language some words lose their value with time. For this reason a rigorously literal translation does not always express the thought exactly, and so in order to maintain this exactitude it is sometimes necessary to use other equivalents rather than corresponding terms, or even paraphrases.
These comments will be found especially applicable in the interpretation of the blessed Scriptures, and in particular those of the Gospels. If the nature of the environment in which Jesus lived is not taken into account we shall be exposed to misunderstandings as to the meaning of certain expressions and certain facts, as a consequence of the habit we have of likening others to ourselves. In any case, it behoves us to divest the term HATE of its modern meaning, as this is contrary to the true message of the teachings of Jesus. (See also chapter 14, item 5 and subsequent items.)
* NON ODIT in Latin: KAÏ or MISEÏ in Greek, do not mean hate, but rather TO LOVE LESS. What the Greek verb MISEÏ indicates is expressed even better by the Hebrew verb, which would have been used by Jesus. This verb does not only signify HATE, but also TO LOVE LESS, TO NOT LOVE AS MUCH AS, OR TO NOT LOVE THE SAME AS SOMEONE ELSE. In the Syrian dialect, which is said was used more frequently by Jesus, this meaning is even better accentuated. It is in this sense that GENESIS (Chapter 29: 30 & 31) says: "And Jacob loved Raquel more than Lia, and Jehova seeing that Lia was hated It is evident that the true meaning here is: was loved less. This is how it should be translated. In many other passages in Hebrew and, above all in Syrian, the same verb is used in the sense of TO NOT LOVE AS MUCH AS ANOTHER, which makes it contradictory to translate it into HATE, this having another clearly defined meaning. The text of Matthew, however, puts the matter quite clearly. (Note by M. Pezzani, in the 3rd edition of the original French.)