Speak That I May See Thee

The Religious Significance of Language

Harold Stahmer

“In the book Speak That I May See Thee, Harold Stahmer, with the help of Walter Ong, shows how irrational it would be not to expect God to address humankind in language.”

—Anthony Thiselton

Speak That I May See Thee explores the religious significance of language, especially the spoken word, as revealed in the writings of J.G. Hamann, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Franz Rosensweig, Martin Buber, and Ferdinand Ebner. Dr. Stahmer evaluates the contributions of these men in light of concerns that are decidedly more American than European character; he avoids the more traditional theological and analytic philosophical approach is to language, preferring instead to examine the potentially sacramental nature of all forms of human discourse, from a right variety of perspectives. Stahmer says that “one hopes that the studies will contribute to an understanding and appreciation of the significance of the writings of these men, and perhaps inspire others to add to and correct, where necessary,those themes and issues treated here. And it is hoped that these studies will enable people from all walks of life, especially those outside the framework of institutional religion, to enhance their respect for and confidence in the potentially secret character of human speech.” Stahmer’s interest in the importance of oral and aural themes in Western man’s earliest development is combined with, first, the concerns of those writers interested in human communication in an electronic age (Marshall McLuhan, Walter J. Ong, S.J.) and, second, with the implications of radical religion, religionless Christianity, and death-of-God themes. Above all, Speak That I May See Thee explores the role of speech in the creation of them are truly human society. As such it will speak to those interested in literature and communication, as well as those concerns with religious, phenomenological, and existential themes.

New York: MacMillan. 1973