Why speech-acts when discussing Scripture?

Why did I spend a year researching the potential benefits of a pompous sounding yet very down-to-earth and commonsensical theory in the philosophy of language called “speech act theory” for formulating a doctrine of Scripture? Why did I write an MTh dissertation on it (well, not on it per se, but how it has been employed by Kevin Vanhoozer and Tim Ward)?

There are, of course, many things to be said, but for now here’s a great and succint rationale given by Timothy Ward in an interview.

Guy Davies: Why do you think that speech-act theory is so valuable when it comes to formulating a doctrine of Scripture?

TW: Speech-act theory asserts that to speak is to act, and that language-use is a variety of interpersonal action. That model of language accords remarkably well with what Scripture has to say about language and about itself, when spoken either by God or by us. The particular cutting edge of this is that many understandings of the nature of Scripture, whether liberal or evangelical, have gone astray in forgetting this basic point. Classic examples would be when we are expected to choose between revelation as either propositional or effective/active, or when the question of biblical inerrancy becomes the thing that excites us most about Scripture.

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Un gând despre „Why speech-acts when discussing Scripture?

  1. Daniel Bulzan spune:

    Natan, I found speech-act theory quite useful for developing a theological perspective on language as well.
    Another very interesting concept, coming from the German theologian Eberhart Jungel and already employed by Alan Torrance, is the idea of God commandeering (requisitioning) human language for the purposes of his revelation. There are, of course, significant consequences for the doctrine of Scripture if we choose to look at things this way. One of its merits is that it brings more balance to this doctrine in terms of what is human and what is divine, what is particular/unique and what is universal/common, or indeed what are its main tenets that should be defended.

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