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As someone who stands within a strongly iconoclastic tradition. 9600 Garsington Road. . MA 02148. Webb does defend the priority of word over image. UK and 350 Main Street. Perhaps it is because I had such specific expectations for this book that at first I was rather confused by it. Webb is developing a ‘Christian acoustemology’. and liturgical theological questions in one inquiry. Malden. This is why those of us who are college teachers are all becoming masters of PowerPoint – because we have been told over and over that lectures do not cut it anymore. Webb. In fact. MI. USA It is common knowledge that we live in a visual age. I am increasingly uncomfortable with this dominance of the visual. a theo- logical consideration of sound rather than sight ‘as the most charac- teristic medium of biblical revelation and Christian mission’ (p. and that many. I was hoping for an ally in my project of reclaiming iconoclasm. Grand Rapids. from the sound of God in the Trinitarian conversation that created the world to the turbulence that keeps us from hearing God today.. 256 pp. and so it was with some excitement that I first picked up Stephen Webb’s book The Divine Voice: Christian Proclamation and the Theology of Sound. I especially appreciate the way in which Webb unites systematic. Stephen H.. I found a thoughtful and provocative book that not only intersects with my interest in iconoclasm. with the result that his argument does not track terribly well with the traditional image-versus-word debate of iconoclasm. but for most of the book he is not terribly interested in thinking about words. It will traverse a broad range of topics. (p. Brazos Press.99 Reviewed by Laura Smit Calvin College. 2004 (ISBN: 1-58743-078-9). Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.212 Review articles and author responses The Divine Voice: Christian Proclamation and the Theology of Sound. 14). instead. The concept of sound is rather slippery throughout this book. perhaps most. For example: Conversations in Religion and Theology. Pb r24. that post- modern people often think visually more naturally than they think verbally. pastoral. that a heavily word-centered style of learning is inappropriate for this generation. 30) Since I am both a theologian and a preacher. Webb describes the scope of his book: A theology of sound will be both a theo-acoustics of the Word of God and a practical theology of public speaking. of today’s college students are visual learners. he is interested in sound. Oxford OX4 2DQ. but also goes beyond it. USA. he often follows his mentor Walter Ong in playing sound over against the written word. 5:2 (2007) © 2007 The Authors.

© 2007 The Authors. that unite all Christians more than the jottings of the literate few. but on the other he affirms as ‘sound’ various experiences. Some- times. which does not work. But then he goes on to admit that reading need not be a monologue. as I read him Webb has ambivalent views about reading. God makes all of our sounds – from guttural moans of despair to tearful shouts of joy – matter. In fact. In which case. so that I was not always sure of how the word was being used. [but] occupie[s] the interior space of the reader’s crowded thoughts. To God those prayers must sound like a constant humming emitted from the very properties of matter. why are not the ‘jottings of the literate few’. concluding that it makes sense to listen for the voice of God when we read the Bible. Webb addresses the distinction between spoken and written word in a different way. only to use language that I read as metaphorical instead. I love this idea. Often it feels as though he is attempting to write univo- cally about God’s speaking and our own. By listening. since good readers interacting with good books will have a real relationship with the author. while belonging only analogously to us. a melody that accompanies the universe as it resonates with God’s Word. Voice here is more than a metaphor’ (p. but I find it is hard to hold consistently. He admits that ‘textual voices’ are ‘auditory’ even though we only have the voice sounding in our head (p. 31) On the one hand. which ‘no longer require[s] acoustical space.Review articles and author responses 213 Surely it is the prayers of the faithful. text. that are not vocalized at all and are sounds only in the most metaphorical sense. he claims to be speaking analogously. it seemed to me that Webb slides back and forth between metaphorical and literal uses of ‘sound’. Webb insists that biblical language about God’s voice and God’s speaking should not be taken metaphorically. both the vocal and the inarticulate longings of their hearts. ‘good books are written in distinctive and recognizable voices. 204). Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. and then we end up sliding into equivocation rather than analogy. Later in the book. Webb insists on the value of vocalized prayer over against writing. including ‘inarticulate longings’ and the ‘hum’ of matter. A more significant example of the slipperiness of the idea of sound is seen in the ways in which God is thought of as the source of sound throughout the book. . reading was always done aloud. In sum. Reading [becomes] a monologue rather than a dialogue’ (p. primarily. and word. and properly to God. I am also not convinced that Webb holds it consistently. 202). and how all three relate to sound. 201). (p. also validated as metaphorically voiced? Throughout the book. which certainly represent the writers’ own inner con- versations. reminding us that in the ancient world. but that sound belongs first. so that there is no distinction between reading and speaking in the Hebrew Bible. He remains suspicious of our contemporary experience of reading.

194). (p. He also suggests. It seems to me that it is possible to understand our human experience of sound as derivative from and © 2007 The Authors. but that is not where Webb goes with his discussion of creation. whereas God is neither temporal nor embodied. This makes sense given that Webb posits Barth’s understand- ing of anhypostatic Christology. a muted echo of God’s own speech. 176) God’s speech has the power to bring to pass what he declares. . so that theology cannot begin with destinations about human speech and then apply them to God. which is not a model for how we speak. . but if this is what it means to say that God speaks. . Instead he suggests that the Son speaks with a physical voice even at the creation. then God’s speech is of a kind unlike any other. in the end. This would seem to be an invitation to talk about God’s decrees. 62). suggesting that he under- stands God as being within time. God’s Word creates what it says. My own theological convictions about the Trinity and the nature of the incarnation do not allow me to accept these suggestions. and if God’s speech is immediately effective. and that therefore there is no moment when the second person of the Trinity was not human. following McCormack. . the idea that Jesus is united to human- ity in general rather than to a particular human being. so that sound belongs properly to us and only analogically to God. and in what way is it the source of our experience of sound and speech? One way in which Webb affirms that God has a voice is by affirming the proclamation of the Word as God’s speech. All human speaking is. in his discussion of creation. (I expect that Webb would disagree with me in saying that God is not temporal. then it would seem that his speech is an act of accommodation to our embodied temporal nature. Nor can our speech be a model for how God speaks. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. that ‘elec- tion precedes (or constitutes) the Trinity’ (p.) So clearly ‘sound’ and ‘speech’ must mean something very different when attributed to God. . Another way that Webb speaks of God’s voice is in terms of creative power. everything sounds different once we have heard God speak to us. . 166). This leads to a very helpful section on the sermon as God’s way of speaking. ‘The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God’ (p. We cannot compare God’s voice with the other sounds we hear around us. What might that be exactly. If God truly speaks. . He cites the second Helvetic Confession as saying. he talks about what God was doing ‘before’ creation as though that’s a reasonable question to ask. I absolutely affirm the Confession’s teaching on this point. It is just the opposite.214 Review articles and author responses One reason for the confusion is that our experience of sound is always tied to our experience of time and embodiment. and that if the voice is not physical then it is not personal (p.

He does develop the implications of the fact that Hebrew culture was more aural/oral than visual. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. The prophets come to Israel claiming. Such listening presupposes surrender of control. without suggesting that God is triune in order to choose us in Christ. And God promises. The great summarizing statement of the Old Testament is a call to hear: ‘Hear. throughout the Old Testament. I was recently part of a faculty reading group in which we read a selection from this book.Review articles and author responses 215 analogous to some sort of intra-Trinitarian ‘conversation’ or decree that is eternally actualized. Moses cannot see God and live. To think of theology in terms of sound is to acknowledge the need to still and quiet our souls (Psalm 131) in order to receive the Word. . The Word was in the beginning. not by sight. the Lord is one’. the Lord your God. Webb argues. that he hears the cries of his people. but it also presupposes intimacy and presence. Webb could have made even more of a Biblical case for the priority of sound than he did. ‘Sound is the medium that best carries a supernatural message. 47). he makes little use of the Old Testament teaching about the danger of seeing God’s face. Perhaps it is possible to establish the priority of sound over sight without grounding sound so directly in God’s own nature. Webb might miss his target of privileging sound over sight. We believe by hearing and walk by faith. The audio-centrism of the Old Testament is not displaced in the New Testament. In thinking about Hebrew culture. ‘Thus says the Lord’. then there is light. ‘the simplest reason for this audiocentric phenomenon is that they thought God has chosen to reveal God’s divinity to them through the spoken word’ (p. It may instead be grounded in God’s own patterns of revelation. but speaks with him. a selection that included Webb’s discussion © 2007 The Authors. and then becomes flesh. we would be better off saying that ‘self- revelation’ or ‘self-communication’ belongs properly to God and only analogously to us. But if he were to reframe the discussion in this way. Webb says that it is God’s nature to speak. because it delivers something external without putting us in control of its source’ (p. and only then is allowed to see his back. God speaks. when the Word becomes flesh and the voice of Jesus is what inspires. Scripture gives authorization for this priority. Mary knows Jesus by hearing her name and only then recognizes him. Perhaps instead of saying that ‘sound’ belongs properly to God and only analogously to us. 39). to practice the discipline of listening. by which he means that self-communication is God’s nature. Webb also suggests that sound is a more appropriate category than sight for understanding theology because whereas sight may give us an impression of control. receives his Word. sound requires us to yield control. For instance. O Israel.

216 Review articles and author responses of silence and listening. as the paradigm of all acting. he argues that ‘the simultaneity of sight needs to be contrasted with the sequential nature of sound. This is a particularly important challenge for preachers. which Webb explores in helpful detail. which measure students’ engagement on whether they speak in class. . is the ultimate act of embodiment . We hear sounds one at a time. a way of connecting our vocal expression to our entire body. We ended up having a lengthy discussion about our current assessment tools. so that they could hear a wider range of people clearly and attentively. he postulated that a pedagogy of hearing would make more time for listening and would not necessarily reward the speediest response. offering an anti- dote to the experience of speaking ‘without authority’ and without authenticity. while we see an object all at once’ (p. . We shared that we tend to teach with the goal of helping students to communicate themselves more widely rather than with the goal of having them listen more widely. Linklater ‘broadens the act of speaking by locating it not just in the vocal folds but in the entire human body. The voice can be said to embody the body. you know that this is a full-body experience. one of my colleagues asked: what would a pedagogy of hearing be like? Trying to answer his own question. Most preachers know the fear of being unmasked as a fraud – an experience close to the experience of stage fright. that we do not need to keep a flow of talk going for every moment during the class period. because all parts of the person. are expressed through the voice’ (p. we are capable of © 2007 The Authors. it is often possible to soldier on in speaking despite extreme fear. And the phenomenon of stage fright is even more damaging to a singer than to a speaker. Webb’s analysis of hearing/sound is rather too bound by speech. But clearly in the experience of music this is not the case. For instance. This leads to some limitations on Webb’s understanding of sound. One of the most interesting sections of the book is Webb’s dis- cussion of Kristin Linklater’s approach to the ‘natural voice’. not taking the singing voice into account until the last few pages of the book. 46). Linklater argues that ‘speaking. In the subsequent discussion. but the singing voice offers no place to hide. not on whether they are listening. Speaking in one’s own natural voice calms that fear. I am both a preacher and a singer. ’ (p. trusting that silence can also be productive. and I believe that singing is even more deeply embodied than speaking. 59). 58). Professors working from a pedagogy of hearing would also be more trusting of silence. from feelings to thought and impulses. . The goal of such teaching would be not only to develop our students’ natural voice (whether written or spoken) but also to develop their capacity for listening. If you have ever stood near an opera singer who was singing in full voice. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. I have never found that I need to imagine Jesus as genderless in order to affirm my own feminine voice. suggesting: ‘Jesus Christ surely has a voice © 2007 The Authors. So Webb seems to believe elsewhere. perhaps.Review articles and author responses 217 hearing multiple sounds simultaneously and making sense of them all. In Schaeffer’s play Amadeus. Thinking of singing as the paradigm of embodied sound also makes the connection between making sound and breath more obvious. the two activities of preaching and singing are intimately connected. as well as between prose and poetry. not his face. I found some confusion here between the words of Jesus and the voice of Jesus. In explaining why the disciples were unconcerned to preserve an account of Jesus’ appearance. Webb seems to feel this need. But if this is heresy. 48). A well-inflected sermon is on the border between speech and song. but that there are many references to the power of his voice. Better. partly a problem in the speaker. for instance. Webb advocates mastering vocal ‘inflection’ (p. ‘Never has anyone spoken like this!’) could be taken to refer as much to Jesus’ message as to his vocal power. We are not told. would be to focus on the story of Mary at the tomb. It was his voice that marked his identity. . One side effect of such a bias is that women do not know how to use their own voices. As far as the voice is concerned. I especially appreciate Webb’s observations about the ways in which our culture associates authority with male voices. We are not told what sort of accent he has. 63). in harmony with her breath and her body. The references Webb cites (such as John 7:46. Webb approvingly cites Robin Jensen who says that a physical description of Jesus would be heretical: ‘The heresy is that of limiting Christ’s character. a congregation responds to the authenticity and freedom of such a voice and gives recognition of authority. but does not discuss ways in which such inflection is inher- ently a musical activity. whether Jesus is a baritone or a tenor. He points out that the New Tes- tament tells us nothing of what Jesus looked like. In my own preaching. confronting the risen Jesus but failing to recognize him until he spoke her name. My own experience suggests that when a woman studies her own voice and works to use it properly. ‘My sheep know my voice’ (John 10:27). it would be equally heretical to limit Christ by ascribing to him a particular voice. that is also not described. which might give an opening for thinking more deeply about the Holy Spirit’s role in empowering our speaking/singing. nature or power by circumscribing his appearance’ (p. so the problem of a woman’s voice not being heard as authoritative is partly a problem in the listener. As the gospel of John says. Mozart revels in the fact that only in music can six people be expressing themselves simultaneously and yield not chaos but harmony. but interested in preserving an account of his voice.

But such ‘limitation’ is not heresy at all. 70) I have to say that I am confused by this passage. God’s Word makes the body of Jesus. 34).218 Review articles and author responses capable of an inimitable range of pitches and intonations’ (p. just as every event in human history is eternally present. the body of Jesus does not precede and thus determine God’s voice. In other words. which means that God did not choose a ‘special’ human being to be rewarded with the incarnation. a particular gender. but does it follow that Jesus’ speaking voice is the source of his embodied existence? Certainly. This suggests that the voice of Jesus Christ has none of the limitations inherent in ordinary human voices. 35). In another context. it is true that the earthly life of Jesus is the primary revelatory point of contact between the eternal God and temporal humanity. the events of the life of Jesus are eternally present. with a particular appearance and a particular vocal timbre. But. the Word makes the body of Jesus. It is the other way around. (p. however. As the Belgic Confession puts it. Yet. Certainly. which are always gendered. [T]he Word took shape in Jesus Christ before the creation of the world. yes. but hardly univocal to it) and the sounds produced by the man Jesus when he spoke/speaks to his disciples. . Jesus’ body is perfectly tuned for sound because it resonates with God’s Word in the clearest possible manner. . he is no longer fully human. I gather that these ideas are again connected to Webb’s embrace of Barth’s anhypostatic Christology. And in his continuing incarnation at the right hand of the Father he continues to have a particular appearance and a particular vocal timbre and. even at the moment of the © 2007 The Authors. classically conceived. According to traditional Christol- ogy. If God adopted Jesus as God’s Son. but if Jesus is really fully human then how can his speaking voice transcend ‘the limitations inherent in ordinary human voices’? Surely. Jesus’ body is a perfectly free vehicle of divine expression. . Otherwise. . the Word is not gendered. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Surely. I cannot accept that the Logos is exhausted by the human speaking voice of Jesus. analogous to the way in which I as a three-dimensional being might put my finger down on a two-dimensional line. Jesus became a particular person. Webb himself acknowledges ‘Sound is always particular and intimate’ (p. then God’s voice to us truly would be masculine. I think there’s a little equivocating going on between the Word by which God spoke creation into existence (which is certainly genderless. it is required by the doctrine of the incarnation. elsewhere Webb observes: That Jesus Christ is the natural voice of God does not mean that the Word of God is inherently masculine sounding. as a Calvinist. it is true that from the divine perspective. because God would have chosen a man’s voice to represent the divine sound. and certainly analogically related to our experience of human speech.

rather than sound or speech alone. it is embodied. Clearly. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.Review articles and author responses 219 crucifixion. . rooted in the realization that God has not in fact abandoned his servant. but I would find a very dif- ferent significance there. In such sacramental drama. Webb is right to point to the significance of the cry from the cross in understanding the voice of Jesus. It would also seem to me that in order to be fully human. It would seem to me that the particularity of the incarnation requires us to assume that Jesus has a particular timbre to his voice and even a particular accent. no matter how things may have appeared. then that voice must be distinctive and particular. The words of a preacher heard in a recording lack the meaning of those same words spoken by the living. but drama is not only spoken. Stephen Webb and I come to this conversation with very different theological presuppositions. and that that would include his voice. we have something approaching the synesthesia that Webb holds up as eschatologically important. And what he chooses to say is the beginning of Psalm 22. The faculty group I mentioned earlier kept coming back to drama as a controlling metaphor. The words of the cross would not mean the same thing if they had been said apart from the enacting of the crucifixion. Jesus exerts himself to offer us this interpretive key to his suffering in one of his last moments of speech before his death. sound and sight come together. so that extended speech once he was on the cross must have required at least a heroic and probably a miraculous effort on the part of Jesus. more Barthian readers may find his Christological discussion unproblematic. the words of a phone conversation may lack the meaning of the same words communicated face to face. Perhaps more dialogue with Balthasar – especially the Theo-Drama would be helpful here. and at that moment I also expect to hear him speak in the same voice that spoke to Mary after the resurrection and led her to recognize him. his last miraculous act before his death is an act of speech. Other. I think. breathing preacher who looks you in the eye as she speaks God’s Word directly to you. a psalm that begins with God’s apparent abandonment. not somehow amorphously all voices. shown forth. the Son fills heaven and earth (article 19). Webb himself suggests. but ends with a cry of triumph and confidence. It is significant. I anticipate a day when I will see the ascended Lord face to face. Linklater’s analysis of the voice is essentially dramatic. Jesus has to be gendered. although I would argue (on the side of Calvin) that the word still holds priority and still controls the action. Whereas Jesus exerts no effort and expends no power to spare himself pain. In drama. If his sheep know his voice. that a person being crucified is experiencing the collapsing of his lungs. In a much more trivial way. ‘The only theory that can even begin to do justice to God’s © 2007 The Authors.

a new discipline of sound studies appears to have emerged. Audio Culture. . because I was trying to use a new per- spective to connect old theological themes. especially in crowded cities humming with new kinds of machines. The newest technology. He soon realized. ears had to adjust to ‘the roar on the other side of silence’. Now if only Brazos would release the book on tape. From the invention of the microphone to the heavy drumming of railways. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. so that you do not even have to hear yourself think. particularly given a culture that is so saturated by images. We are simultaneously saturated and isolated by sound. Sound is also everywhere in the world of scholarship. . and Victorian Soundscapes. and Webb is a gifted and informed guide into such thinking. USA In sound as with so many other things. inventors kept coming up with new technologies of amplification. as George Eliot put it in Middlemarch. that he had built an echo chamber. Response to Laura Smit By Stephen H. there was little that I could find on the relationship between Christianity and sound. the Victorians were on the cutting (or perhaps we should say clanging) edge. 176). Webb Wabash College. Books that have been published since mine have titles like Hearing History. however. We need to think more critically about the theology of sound. Carlyle’s plight provides a good allegory for the modern sonic condition. this is an important and helpful book. The more we try to control sound in order to find some peace and quiet the more we wrap ourselves in sound cocoons. Even nature was speaking up – the eruption of a volcano on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa in 1883 was the loudest sound ever documented. My book is exploratory and comprehensive both. The Audible Past. .220 Review articles and author responses speech is a dramatic and rhetorical one – a theory capable of sug- gesting the ways in which God’s speech is the very stuff of creation and redemption’ (p. Hearing Cultures. is headphones specially designed to amplify silence. creating a sonic overload that stimulated the rise of the suburbs. For More Than One Voice. . The Auditory Culture Reader. although theology is underrepresented. How Early America Sounded. where the softest shuffling of a paper took on new auditory significance. although when I wrote The Divine Voice. which is the book where I found the story of Thomas Carlyle’s soundproof © 2007 The Authors. Overall. As people became more accustomed to a noisier world. In search of an internal exile from the din. Thomas Carlyle built a soundproof study at the top of his house. unsurpris- ingly. Since I wrote my book.

Norton. he is frequently identified (and criticized) for having too much nostalgia for purely oral cultures. It just sounds slippery. I should say first of all that Walter Ong is not my mentor. W. I would also add two books on changing attitudes toward darkness that have interesting insights about the relationship between sight and sound: A. but isn’t that the way sound is? How can you pin something down with words when it is so fleeting. Perhaps. the concept of sound is not slippery. All of this is a way of apologizing for the slipperiness that Laura Smit finds in my treatment of sound. 2006). 2004). The Auditory Culture Reader (New York: Berg. Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (New York: Continuum. But why say just? Isn’t the meaning of the word in the sound. Acquainted with the Night: Excursions through the World after Dark (New York: Bloomsbury.1 It would please me if my book were construed as an invitation to religion scholars to enter into this rich and varied discourse. Richard Cullen Rath. Loves Me Not: The Ethics of Unrequited Love (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. Hearing History: A Reader (Athens: The University of Georgia Press. Victorian Soundscapes (Oxford: Oxford University Press. The Audible Past: Cultural Origin of Sound Reproduction (Durham: Duke University Press. 2003). and John M. 2003). and I am afraid I jumped on that bandwagon. 2003). If only she had read the manuscript before it was published! I have taught her wonderful book. and he should be read more than he is today. just the sound of it. Loves Me. Smit is right to push me for more clarity about my views. 2 Laura A. 2005). . even though slippery is a metaphor drawn from tangible. Loves Me Not and have found her writing always to be passionate and profound. 2005) and Christopher Dewdney. 2004). Jonathan Sterne.. Smith. 2005). not auditory experience. and how do you hear them when you see them? Laura Smit is frustrated by the way sound slips and slides in my book. I plead that sound is a slippery word. At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past (New York: W. Picker. 2004). Michael Bull and Les Back. what do words sound like when you read them silently. Nevertheless. to me. © 2007 The Authors. Veit Erlmann. which might not be fair to his large and diverse body of work. 2003). For More Than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression (Stanford: Stanford University Press. Roger Ekirch. Adriana Caverero. and I am very grateful for her insightful and attentive ques- tions. Loves Me. Listening and Modernity (New York: Berg.2 So it is a pleasure to think through the topic of sound with Smit as my interrogator. In my defense. How Early America Sounded (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. so immaterial and invisible? Nonetheless. just as much as on the page and in the eye? Yet. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner. then. Smit. I also criticized him for romanticizing sound as a privileged site for the exchange of otherwise incommunicable 1 Mark M. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.Review articles and author responses 221 room. eds. even though I might not be able to give sound the kind of precision that she seeks. Ong is such an important scholar on this topic that I could not avoid discussing him.

222 Review articles and author responses subjectivities. God. I do not think starting from a general theory of sound. and the sound of God is none other than the voice of Jesus Christ. All of our sounds are but echoes of His. Ong wants to ground his under- standing of sound in his theologically shaped theory of personhood. Married couples can say more to each other with a glance than with a thousand words. of course. I have little tolerance for anthropological speculations that take place outside of reflection on Jesus Christ. That. Sound for us is a limited. live quite well in a world without sound. My criticisms of Ong are not unrelated to Smit’s most serious concern about my book. is very helpful. we can always communicate in ways that do not require vocalization. does not need vocal cords to speak. which is why I wrote about deaf culture in my book. I want to argue. I do not know if Ong. . who was a Jesuit priest. I want to ground anthropology in Christology. read much Karl Rahner. and I tried to say that the voice of Jesus © 2007 The Authors. Smit does not like the way my book slips around the world of human sound without coming right out and saying that sound must be this or that. Smit found the way that I attribute sound literally to God and thus only metaphorically to us confusing. but I tried to do this consistently and explicitly. or we can use sign language. not us. fragile thing. We experience a bit of obedience in every act of hearing because God spoke the world into being and Jesus called the church into formation. for example. We can speak because God speaks. in fact. We can write. I tried to be sensitive to the way that the privileging of the male voice has been harmful to women. which is the slippage she finds between my metaphorical and literal use of sound. of course. have to do with God. brings us to the issue of gender. I suppose I could be open to the same charge (that of romanticizing sound). The sound of the Trinity is what God decides to share with others when God creates through speaking. but God spoke nonetheless. The deaf teach us that no matter how crucial sound is for humanity. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Sound is not something that conveys its essence to us if only we listen to it with sufficient care. Throughout my book. I tried to be clear that sound for me must be construed from a Christocentric perspective. Ong would have to be deeply Barthianized if he were to be counted one of my mentors of sound. Like all those who have come under the influence of Karl Barth. but it might be helpful to think of his work as adding a sonic dimension to Rahner’s discussion of the inherent mystery of human existence. Some people. but where I most differ from Ong is on the theological status of anthropology. That is. I tried to hold together two apparently contradictory points with regard to gender. but the only lasting truths about sound. We come to know ourselves through our voices because God is an eternal act of communication between the Father and the Son.

Review articles and author responses 223 – the very voice that the disciples heard. ‘I anticipate a day when I will see the ascended Lord face to face. These are brave words in these gendered times. for example. the Second Person of the Trinity’ (p. His voice is thus not limited by the way that gender. not because God became incarnate in order to be like us. raising all sorts of theological problems. I certainly do not want to degender Jesus even as I struggle to empower women and others who have been silenced by louder voices. The reason we need not reduce the voice of Jesus to a stereotypically male sound is that Jesus is what I call (borrowing from the work of Kristin Linklater) the natural voice of God. ‘The category of voice can help us to remember that the Word of God is not just any kind of sound. In a book I have just completed on evolution. eloquently. 62). we can recognize God in Jesus Christ. I am perfectly happy and able to affirm God’s otherness. His voice. Jesus is the perfect embodiment of the divine voice because he is its most natural extension into the physical world. Univocity does not reduce God. So Smit and I are in agreement when she says. That charge against Scotus is simply absurd. and women who heard him were called to speak to him and for him. to one being among many. Instead. As I put it in The Divine Voice. which is the significance. As a defender of univocity. of the story of the women at the tomb. that is. which is obviously a male voice – is the voice of God. and at that moment I also expect to hear him speak in the same voice that spoke to Mary after the resurrection and led her to recognize him’. but I can only give a hint of that here. in our fallen world. . for me. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. can (and usually does) hinder our speaking and our hearing. rather than the being of all beings or Being itself or the totally other who is without being altogether. Univocity does not mean that there are no differences between God and us. What I also affirm is the primacy of Jesus Christ as the eternal intention of God. Because God the Father decided to clothe the Son in garments that were subsequently given to us. was especially appealing to women. it is the speech of a person. Let me try to clarify that point further by attending to Smit’s observation that I write univocally about God’s speaking and our own. If Jesus were adopted by God as some special sort of person. according to the Gospels. I suppose I am one of the very few people in the theological world who agrees with John Duns Scotus on the issue of univocity as well as what gets called later in the Franciscan tradition the Primacy of Christ. I have a chapter on what Scotus would say to Darwin. and we can speak of God with the confidence that our words are not © 2007 The Authors. God would have chosen a masculine voice to represent him on earth. We can speak about God with assurance and confidence because we are created to be like Jesus. an intention that includes us in the unfolding of God’s decision to become material. as so many theologians wearily repeat.

when he spoke words to the Father that he knew would cause the Father pain. That form is the Father’s gift to the Son. That message is the beginning of Psalm 22. Smit argues that the significance of this cry is that Jesus heroically exerts himself to speak intelligibly about his ministry. you are led to the recognition that God did not choose a ‘special’ human being from the beginning of creation to be rewarded with the incarnation. crucial message before he suffocates. then. began in the garden. so let me briefly summarize it here. I think that Jesus confronts the limits of vocalization on the cross. The cry on the cross. and that giving means that God gives us to the Son as well. he never lost it altogether: ‘Because the Father listened and gave him strength. She does not say what my interpretation of this scene is. which means that he can identify with us even when we are speechless or paralyzed with speaking phobia. © 2007 The Authors. 72). Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. giving us one last. I alluded above to the dangers of adoptionism in reifying Jesus’ voice. which begins in despair but ends with a note of hope and even triumph. or some such locution. Yet. Faith comes through hearing because God spoke the world into being through the same Jesus Christ who called Lazurus from the dead. Instead. We are created in the image of God. With that determination so were we determined – to be the companions of the Son and to live in a world made for Him. The fall is not the reason for the incarnation. ‘The Father had to hear the pain in his voice in order to experience the depth of human suffering’ (p. . Instead. Jesus had to find his voice by losing it. As I wrote in my book. the incarnation is the reason for creation. but that image is the voice of the logos. The cry of dereliction must be read in continuity with the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. not us. we human beings resist Darwinian reductions because God determined from eternity to have the divine voice expressed in material form. as a kind of wild card he could play were he to need to trump the devil. his voice was the sound of our salvation’ (p. which is nothing less that what God was saying from eternity. 72). upon close inspection. This leads to my analysis of the cry of dereliction.224 Review articles and author responses limited analogies that dissolve. If you push the critique of adoptionism back one more step. into the God above God. Jesus was never more human than when he spoke in a ruptured voice in order to confront the rupture that was threatening his relationship with his Father. It is an insult to the majesty of Jesus Christ to imagine that God was embodied only to expedite a rescue mission for one lousy species that had gotten lost in the world of sin. Even his silence before Pilate spoke a mountain of words. Gethsemane was so hard on Jesus not just because he had to stay up late while his followers slept! Jesus had to go to the father and give voice to his most personal grief. God did not have Jesus of Nazareth in mind when God created Adam and Eve.

at least. Music should approximate the human voice. as in the case of much rock music. I also discuss the limits and dangers of the use of rock music in worship. Smit takes me to task for talking too much about speech and not enough about singing. and synesthesia was written especially for someone like her. Webb. As I write. appropriates noise in order to break through the false consolations of simplistic or idealistic harmonies. In rock at its best. Silence. are not the only ways to approach the divine is indicated in my discussion of synes- thesia as the eschatological culmination of the senses. we hear the human voice in all of its ancient nudity and frailty. including music. 229). so to speak. Dylan Redeemed: From Highway 61 to Saved (New York: Continuum. ‘The human voice is at the heart of all sound this side of heaven only because Jesus Christ speaks to us with a voice that is both human and divine’ (p. 2006). I then go on to discuss the way much twentieth century music. but it should always be in response to the Word. must lie at the heart of all sound. That. in all of its meaningfulness. is always constructed. If I can put in a plug for my most recent book. because I thought the end of my book on silence. which is a sequel. for me. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. This was the most disappointing of Smit’s criticisms for me. is what Dylan says to me. Music can be wordless. I suggest that Christianity can only go so far with this trend. but it risks ending up mocking the human voice by burying it in distortion and ampli- fication. of sorts. Rock for me seeks to free the human voice from all restraint. is the essence of rock not just because he got rock rolling at the Newport Folk Festival in the summer of 1965 but also because he has stayed true to his voice. I argue. just as it should not try to drown out and destroy the voice.3 I end that book with a discussion of the history of Christianity’s ambivalence toward instrumental music. however. I would like to note that Dylan Redeemed is a prolonged meditation on the role of the human voice in religion post-rock and roll. not in the sense that there should not be instrumental music. music. . from atonality to rock and roll. to The Divine Voice. 3 Stephen H. I begin my last chapter by criticizing religious ideologies that prioritize silence over sound. but in the sense that music should not distance itself from the natural harmonies of vocalization. Dylan. Rock should make music out of a voice without idealizing or destroying it. © 2007 The Authors. because the voice.Review articles and author responses 225 Finally. Christianity produces silence through various rituals. but it does not give silence the last word. yet we hear it in triumph and celebration as well. That hearing and speaking. contrary to those who think it is the natural state of sound. who is a singer as well as a preacher.