Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language

Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language

Article excerpt

The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language. By Rowan Williams. London: Bloomsbury, 2014. Pp. xiii + 204. $23.99.

This product of Williams's 2013 Gifford Lectures approaches natural theology by examining the properties of human speech, more specifically, representative language, which attempts "to embody, translate, make present or re-form what is perceived" (22). W. points to the open-ended character of representative language, including its capacity for erroneous and fictional expressions, as a signpost to the possible "hinterland of meaning"--the ground of intelligibility that eludes yet provides the basis for our comprehension (173). Special illustrations of the creative horizons of language appear in chapters devoted to "excessive language" (e.g., poetry and dystopic fiction) and to silence, which expresses the gap between our experience and our abilities to articulate that experience. W. offers this reflection on language, not as a proof for the existence of God, but to draw the reader's attention to a paradox of human existence consistent with revelation.

One of the most striking aspects of W.'s argument concerns the material character of language. …

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