The Word after Babel—Writing theology here and now

Whether you preach sermons or listen to them, whether you pray to God in the language of the Prayer Book or in silence, whether you prefer religious poetry or academic prose, in every case theological decisions impact how we speak to and about God. In a series of three lectures, Dr. Mark Jordan of Harvard Divinity School will guide us through the ways in which the Anglican and Episcopal tradition shapes our common language, and our understanding of God.


About the lectures Dr. Jordan writes:

Anglicans have typically claimed, as a biblical principle, that public prayer and the ministry of sacraments should occur in “a language as the people understandeth.” Applied to “the English tongue,” the commitment has called forth vivid translations of scripture and eloquent prayerbooks, surrounding them with libraries of devotional poetry, affecting hymnody, and robust preaching. Not a few Anglicans boast of their vernacular—or, at least, their versions of English.

Jordan shares their impulse, but feels more strongly the press of basic questions. How are theologians obliged by the many common languages of our verbose present? Which “people” do they address—and how exactly will they help them to “understand”? The lectures will cover three topics:

  • Theological Style and Beauty’s Revolutions
  • Theological Prophecy and the Risk of Slogans
  • Theological Silences and the Smallness of Writing

Each lecture will focus on the tensions in more recent Anglican writing around one topic. Taken together, the lectures will interpret “Anglican” loosely—as befits one of the great indefinables. Pursuing examples of common language about the divine, the lectures will also cut across some academic boundaries, commend some questions, and suggest some conversation-partners. The rest is, as must be, up to the listener.

About Dr. Mark Jordan

Dr. Jordan is a scholar of Christian theology, European philosophy, and gender studies. At Harvard Divinity School, where he is Richard Reinhold Niebuhr Research Professor of Divinity, he taught courses on the Western traditions of Christian soul-shaping, the relations of religion to art or literature, and the prospects for sexual ethics.

Jordan is the author of Transforming Fire: Imagining Christian Teaching (Eerdmans 2021), Blessing Same-Sex Unions (Chicago 2005), Telling Truths in Church (Beacon 2003), and The Ethics of Sex (Blackwell 2002).