The Humiliation of the Word / Edition 1

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Well Known for His Many Books on Sociology and theology, Jacques Ellul for the first time intertwines sociological analysis with theological discussion in this provocative examination of how reality (which is visual) has superseded truth (which is verbal) in modern times.

After delineating in basic terms the distinction between truth and reality, the verbal and the visual, Ellul explores the biblical-theological basis for this distinction. He examines the biblical emphasis on the word (both the divine Word and human words which witness to the divine truth) and the biblical critique of idolatry (which is, of course, visual). He goes on to delineate the ways in which the visual dominates modern life and to examine the correlate of this exaltation -- the devaluation of the word.

Later chapters discuss the religious conflict between images and the word, and the impact of the visual on intellectuals and artists. Finally, Ellul focuses on specific aspects of the Bible that appear problematic and discusses the ultimate reconciliation of truth and reality that is to be found only in God.

Of particular interest to those concerned with language philosophy, literary criticism, theology, and art, the book is also accessible to interested general readers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802800695
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 298
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Introduction: Back to Basics 1
Chapter I. Seeing and Hearing: Prolegomena 5
1. Seeing 5
2. Hearing 13
3. Seeing and Hearing 27
4. What about the Philosopher? 37
5. Writing 42
Chapter II. Idols and the Word 48
1. God Speaks 48
2. Visions and Idols 71
3. The Theology of the Icon 102
4. The Word of the Witness 106
Chapter III. Sight Triumphant 112
1. The Invasion of Images 114
2. Utility 127
3. Television 139
4. Technique 148
Chapter IV. The Word Humiliated 155
1. De Facto Devaluation 155
2. Contempt for Language 162
3. Hatred of the Word 172
Chapter V. The Religious Conflict Between Image and Word 183
1. The Church Invaded by Images 183
2. Ultimate Value and the Captive Word 192
3. The Exclusion of What Is Hidden 198
Chapter VI. The Image-Oriented Person 204
1. The Consumer of Images 205
2. The Intellectual Process 210
3. Space and Visualization in Modern Art 221
Chapter VII. Reconciliation 228
1. Light 231
2. Reconciliation 237
3. The Rediscovery of Icons 241
4. The Gospel of John 242
5. Change 254
6. The Freedom of the Word 268
Works by the Same Author 271
Index of Names and Subjects 274
Index of Scripture References 284
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