UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: Christian Language in the Secular City
Christian Language in the Secular City Christian Language in the Secular City

David Martin
ISBN 0754607380 (9780754607380)
Ashgate, 2002

Category: Language & Reference

David Martin is an eminent professor in both Religious Studies and Sociology. This volume is a collection of his stimulating sermons, presented as a way of doing theology as part of worship rather than as philosophical argument.

Martin suggests that theology is invocation and evocation, calling upon and calling out: theology understood as a poetry of transfiguration is not easily treated as a discourse of formal logic or empirical connection. Christian language is known and responded to in its use, not through extraneous explanation. It is the language of the Authorized Version and the Book of Common Prayer which he claims is most familiar and therefore uses himself. He also makes use of frequent reference to classical music, hymnology and poetry, more often through glancing rather than explicit quotation.

Following an opening chapter, The Language of Christianity: Story, Body and Sign, which explores the Christian faith as a code book for picking up signals of transcendence, there are three sections: the Liturgical Year; the Christian agenda, including prophecy, justification, sacred places, war and peace, angelic and demonic; and Emergent Occasions, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 900th anniversary of Winchester Cathedral, commemoration of poets and martyrs, Holy Matrimony and many more.

These sermons are very rich in their language and equally thought-provoking in their theology. They require repeated reading and reflection.

Sue Groom, February 2005

The Revd Sue Groom is the Director of Deanery Licensed Ministry for the Kensington Episcopal Area of London. Before this she was Vicar of St Matthew's, Yiewsley and also served as the Reader Training Officer for the Willesden Episcopal Area. She is the author of Linguistic Analysis of Biblical Hebrew (Paternoster Press, 2003).


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