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God's Human Speech
A Practical Theology of Proclamation
POD; Published: 8/29/1997
ISBN: 978-0-8028-4335-7
Price: $ 21.50
203 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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DESCRIPTION
In our so-called "postmodern" situation, the "hermeneutical turn" has taken us down paths of alienation and suspicion en route to an ultimate loss or retrieval of meaning. But one must ask whether it is texts or their interpreters who stand most alienated, most under suspicion, most in need of retrieval from the lime pit of ideology or from the abyss of unyielding ambiguity and unmeaning. Who or what, if anybody or anything, can effect the retrieval?

God's Human Speech argues for a practical theology of the spoken word instanced by plural, particular and definitive divine, self-revelatory, performative acts which take human life as it is and press it into the service of what God would have it be.

With Bible and sermon understood as the proclamatory acts of One who is proclaimed, preachers dare not regard themselves as diminished Davids dancing before an empty ark. Instead the ark, and all that surrounds it, is full of the presence of God. Further, David and those in his company dance before the terror and the promise of that presence. The Bible cues vocal and physical gesture, silence, sound, everything — and nothing — and the whole of it is deployed by God to the service of ends no one could imagine, much less reimagine. The Word of God can kill or make alive. It can stop or unstop ears. It can excite or halt human striving. The enacted choreography of Bible reading and preaching, in the context of divine worship, comes to that, or it comes to nothing at all.

God's Human Speech traces the implications of proclamation so understood for biblical interpretation through the spoken word, and for homiletical theory, practice and criticism. Its scope is theological, theoretical, technical. Its style is provocative, yet scholarly; precise yet poetic. Its trajectory is long, but its end is never lost from view. Charles Bartow would have preachers thrilled with their task, encouraged and empowered to take it up, made wary — but not utterly daunted — by the magnitude of it. Transcripts of Bartow's own illustrative sermons are also included.

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