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Peter Lampe on Res and Verba

April 2010
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Today at the SBL/AAR Regional Meeting of the Midwest, held here in St. Paul, Mn., I was listening to Prof. Peter Lampe, giving a lecture related to his forthcoming book; lecture title was “Rhetoric and Theology: The Old Question of Res and Verba Revisited.” Some thoughtprovoking stuff here, and a good appetizer for his forthcoming book.

Lampe argues that Res and Verba are not separate entities, nor are they intertwined, but the verba constructs the res. Hence he showed up as a defender of an epistolology of constructivism (with not a little of I. Kant in the background); res and verba creates reality.

Hence, he said, after the collapse of logical empiricism, we have constructivism.

He further asked; Under what conditions do groups formulate their reality? How does constructed reality become plausible to individuals and groups? And he posited four sources of evidence:

empiricism, cognitive construction, social confirmation, emotions.
Furthermore, sources of evidence that make this plausible is;

evidence through cognitive construction,
evidence through experience/sensory perception,
evidence through social confirmation
evidence through positive feelings.

Furthermore, he also brought out some conclusions for theology:

1. Every theology represents a constructed reality, without, however, the constructivist asserting that there is no God out there in the ontic reality,
2. In respect to ontological reality, a constructed reality in which God plays a role is in no way inferior to another constructed reality in which God does not occur. Such an equal standing creates a framework for discussion. And as a result, the situation for discussion for representatives of the Christian tradition has improved. Constructivism provides – inadvertently- apologetic services for theology.
3. The evidence for “truth” is to be solved in relation to the four sources of evidence above. One can no longer ask how a verbal statement relates to the ontic reality.
4. Instead of postmodern arbitrariness (“everything goes”), a fair competition of the different constructs of reality can begin.

So far the handout of prof. Lampe.

His new book will be published late this year:
P. Lampe, New Testament Theology in a Secular World: A Constructivist Work in Christian Apologetics (New York/London: T&T Clark/Continuum).
See also his already published book (German version of the eng. forthcoming?):
Die Wirklichkeit als Bild: Das Neue Testament als ein Grunddokument abendländischer Kultur im Lichte konstruktivistischer Epistemologie und Wissenssoziologie (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 2006)


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