"This was what their Agape had come to"

Agape is a Greek word for a particular kind of love. It became closely associated with the Christian church as it stands for a self-sacrificing, asexual kind of love, similar to the sort of love Christ is thought to show for his flock.

In the Bible, the ideal relationship between a husband and wife is compared to the relationship between Christ and the Church. Here, Hardy exploits the tension in this idea by using the concept to point up the non-sexual nature of Tess and Angel's marriage.