Wednesday 5 July 2006

Prayer as the justification of God-talk

I’m thinking of writing an article about prayer as the justification of human speech about God. I’ve been deeply impressed by the way this concept has been articulated among some of Bultmann’s followers (e.g. Heinrich Ott, Gerhard Ebeling, Eberhard Jüngel)—the hermeneutical problem of speech about God is resolved into the givenness and the demand of prayer as speech to God. So if anyone has any reading suggestions relating to this topic, I’d be most grateful.

In the meantime, here’s a quote from Jüngel that sums up this whole approach:

“Who then is God, that we must speak of him? God is he whom we must thank. To be more precise: God is he whom we cannot thank enough” (Jüngel, “Gott—als Wort unserer Sprache,” in Unterwegs zur Sache, p. 103).


Anonymous said...

Hi Ben,

D.Z. Phillips is not a theologian, he is a philosopher in the tradition of Wittgenstein -and an admirer of Kierkegaard, Weil, Flannery O'Connor and R.S. Thomas - which makes it all the more (not less) worth reading his early and seminal The Concept of Prayer (1965). There is much that is problematical for the believer - particularly over the nature of prayers of petition and intercession - but much that is helpful too in seeing prayer as a "form of life", and in explicating the "grammar" of prayer.

On the subject of intercession - if not exactly on the subject of your intended article - a useful recent contribution is Robert Ellis, Answering God (2005). I say "useful" in the sense of its presentation of the salient material, both philosophical and theological (including a chapter which looks at Augustine, Schleiermacher, Aquinas, Calvin, Barth and Origin). Whether Ellis succeeds with his own thesis - which attempts to combine the insights of such esteemed church fathers with the thought of Process Theology and Open Theism - is another question! The book comes with blurb-recommendations from John Macquarrie and Paul Fiddes.

Weekend Fisher said...

That's an interesting starting point. Of course the atheist often starts there too, and so does the person devastated by the realities of what we study as theodicy.

Anonymous said...

Paul Ricoeur has a classic essay, "Naming God" (it's in his collection "Figuring the Sacred," I believe) in which he links theology with doxology (as do many others, of course).

Ben Myers said...

Many thanks for these helpful suggestions.

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