The Saying of Religious Language

Using Emmanuel Levinas’ distinction between the saying and the said, Pete Rollins asks the question of what is of importance in religious language. A teaser and the link:

Was Jesus just subverting our thinking, always pointing out the inadequacy of our systems? Or was he drawing us into a different understanding of what religious language is all about? Is it possible that religious language is less about communicating meaning and more about inviting us into a different mode of being?

Did Jesus speak Hoplandic?

3 responses to “The Saying of Religious Language”

  1. I really like the distinction between words and meaning.

    The idea that he’s trying to convey felt like it needed to be developed a little further though. With the limited bit I got though, quite an interesting idea. I’m scared of a different mode of ‘being’. Sounds a little too charis-maniac for me. Of course, truth is measured by my preference ;)

  2. Understandable why different mode of ‘being’ would sound bizarre to you, given our charis-maniac background. In this, case, however, it’s much more of a purely philosophical distinction (inherited from Heidegger), akin to his distinction between the saying and said. The said is the mode of being that Christianity traditionally tends towards, as in being-towards-meaning. The saying, however, is the mode of being-towards-embodiment, that type of being which is measured more by what it does than by what it verbalizes.

    Although Rollins is talking about Levinas, this is really all about Heidegger and his various modes of being. And you’re quite right, Rollins is definitely just providing a rough sketch that desperately needs some further development so as to avoid misunderstanding.

  3. That makes sense then. Funny how in this case, the meaning of “being”, came to mean something very different from the author’s intent. For me, the notion of a different mode of being immediately smacked of wesleyan holiness rubbish, the notion that we’ll be transformed superhumans, basking in our own perfection and sinlessness.

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