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Kirchengeschichte: Alte Kirche, Christliche Archäologie


Need, Stephen W.


Human Language and Knowledge in the Light of Chalcedon.


New York-Washington/Baltimore-Bern-Frankfurt/M.-Berlin-Vienna-Paris: Lang 1996. XIII, 248 S. gr.8 = American University Studies. Series VII: Theology and Religion, 187. geb. DM 70,-. ISBN 0-8204-2728-4.


Henry Chadwick

This book originated in a doctoral dissertation at the University of London (King’s College). The author takes the Christology of the Chalcedonian definition as a central instance for the use of metaphor in religious language with the characteristic feature that there is an affirmation that P is the case qualified by a recognition or concession that at the literal level it is not so. That God is a rock is not literally true, but the statement nevertheless conveys religious truth.

The targets of Need’s disagreements are anglophone, and if a book by a German theologian enters the discussion (e. g. Schleiermacher, Harnack, Grillmeier, Barth), it is available in English translation. That is bound to be felt as a limitation. Need criticises the Americans Lindbeck and even McFague whose understanding of Metaphor is near his own. On the historical side, he has followed learned guides, e. g. Stead on homoousios, and likes Jüngel on ’how to talk of God in human terms without losing divinity’. With I. A. Richards and Ricoeur he sees metaphor as cognitive and repeatedly affirms his conviction that the affirmations as well as the negations contained in the Chalcedonian christology exemplify the way in which metaphor works in both poetry and religion.