Report: Naming God and the Techné of Language
On November 14th, 2016, Catholic Theological Faculty of Charles University hosted the international expert seminar called “Naming God and the Techné of Language.” Our leading guests were Prof. Janet Soskice from Cambridge, Prof. George Pattison from Glasgow and Dr. Gábor Ambrus, our researcher currently working in Rome, Angelicum. The seminar was organized by the cTPM in cooperation with the team of the research project “Foundational Reflections on Theology and Technology in a Digital Age” (FoRe).
The first speaker, Gábor Ambrus, presented his paper called “The Hebrew Alphabet as a Divine Name with respect to Psalm 119.” Claiming that “alphabet offers an opportunity to raise the question of technology within the humanities, within theology, and within the Holy Scriptures,“ he managed to raise very interesting points for discussion. It which sense we can view the alphabet as a divine name? What is the relation of this technological name to the supreme metaphysical name of God as esse? The aim of the first respondent Michaela Lašťovičková was to clarify the key points of the argument. The second respondent, Barbora Šmejdová, attempted to set Ambrus’ account to the context of cognitive semantics.
“Poetic Theology in an Age of Technology: after Heidegger” was the title of the second, George Pattison’s lecture. He highlighted the idea that “the crisis of modernity is precisely a crisis of language.” Together with Heidegger, he warned that there is a danger of reducing language and all human relations to “instruments of interplanetary information.” And this is the moment when poetry comes in as a redeeming power, which represents another way of our being in the world. The first respondent Tim Noble developed these ideas in relation to prophecy and to Marshal McLucan’s notion of media as an extension of the human. Martin Kočí then offered a link between language and thinking according to Jan Patočka and added that “the crisis of language is the crisis of thinking.”
The last speaker was Janet Soskice, who presented a paper called “Naming God and the Techné of Language: Can we Name God Wrongly?” She reflected on the biblical scene of God’s encounter with Moses at Mount Sinai and underlined the fact that God’s name “I am who I am” should be more precisely read as “I am with you and will be with you.” God’s name given to Moses is not something invented, but it is given to us by God himself. “What God is in Godself, we cannot know. We can name God trough who God is for us.” In his response, František Štěch developed this idea by his view of revelation as a moment “when God shares his name with human beings.” Finally, Filip H. Härtel presented a question concerning alternative translations of God’s name in Ex 3,14.
If you are interested in reading the papers presented by the cTPM research, you will find them below:
Barbora Šmejdová: From the Techné of Structure to the Techné of Semantics
Tim Noble: Theology as Prophetic Poeisis
František Štěch: Named in Relation…