Edited By Zachary Guiliano and Cameron Partridge
2. Giving an Account of God: Possibilities for a Sacramental Presence in Preaching
Matthew L. Potts
THE IDEA of a sacrament is a staggeringly complex one for the Christian tradition. What has been signified by the term shifts radically throughout the course of Christian history, and even in discrete historical moments it always connotes a wide variety of both understanding and practice. Thus, to argue for the possibility of a sacramental presence in preaching runs up against nearly insurmountable complexities at the outset, even before one has begun to address the truly daunting theological and philosophical additional category of presence. Thus, with some apology, what follows in this essay will aim merely towards suggestion. My primary aim will be to discuss some recent work in feminist literary theory, particularly recent investigations into intersubjectivity by Adriana Cavarero and Judith Butler, and to ask how these might inform some of our contemporary theological understandings of the preached word of God. And I hope also to reintroduce to our own Anglican tradition a theologian whom I regard as one of the most influential, if least prolific, religious thinkers of the twentieth century, a scholar too rarely claimed by us as uniquely Anglican: the late Hans Frei. Our neglect of Frei is probably because his importance is given mostly by implication in the incredibly learned (and incredibly dry) volume The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, and also because it is otherwise exhibited indirectly through the work of his many students at Yale. Nonetheless, the project Frei initiated at Yale, which landed him in the...
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