notes from Speech and Theology

James K.A. Smith, in Speech and Theology: Language and the Logic of Incarnation, agues for an incarnational account of language as formal indication (younger Hiedgger) through praise and confession (Augustine) in order to provide a non-violent (conceptual, linguistic, imminent) means of speaking of God (who is transcendent). I want to affirm this.

But it also occurred to me that this non-violent means of speaking of God arises from the very preaching of the early church, esp. the apostolic preaching which always connects speaking/hearing of the gospel, with the content of the gospel. From this rise the problematic use of gospel as verb and gospel as noun (proclaiming the gospel is part of the gospel). Or we could look at the term ‘faith.’ In the NT is frequently is both the act of faith (trust) and the Faith toward which our faith is ordered.

I was reminded of this while reading through Agamben’s recently translated commentary on Romans, where he says, “The term [euaggelion=gospel] signifies both the act of announcing, and at the same time, the content of the announcement”(89)…and quoting a theological lexicons, “‘the euagelion, understood as the promise of salvation, unites both the theological conception of a word which promises with a good which is the object of the promise‘…Coming to grips with the euaggelion thus necessarily means entering into an experience of language in which the text of the letter is at every point indistinguishable form the announcement and the announcement from the good announced”(90).

In a sense we could argue the doctrine of the incarnation (as formulated by the early church in response to the Jesus, Crucified and Risen Messiah) is already prefaced by the proclamation of the apostles in their conjoining of preaching and promise, a proclamation within language which speaks on the model of the incarnation because God already spoke His Word into flesh.

I bring up this line of thought for the purpose of keeping theological speculation close to the Christian community and practice. For all of Christian theology is based, not merely in the claim, but in the pro(claim)ation that the man, Jesus, is the Risen Lord.