Theology within the Bounds of Language

A Methodological Tour

By Garth L. Hallett

Subjects: Religion, Theology, Philosophy Of Religion, Philosophy Of Language, Christianity
Paperback : 9781438433707, 275 pages, January 2012
Hardcover : 9781438433691, 275 pages, January 2011

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


1. The Terrain Ahead

2. Language and Thought

3. Linguistic Spectacles

4. Linguistic Truth

5. Truth’s Norm

6. The Norm’s Feasibility

7. Making Sense

8. Sense versus Possibility

9. Inference and Analogy

10. Universal Claims (Factual)

11. Universal Claims (Moral)

12. Privileged Senses

13. Defi ning and Saying What Things Are

14. The Need of Examples

15. Important Linguistic Distinctions

16. Verbal Disagreement

17. Verbal Agreement

18. Interfaith Dialogue

19. Interfaith Identities

20. Theological Language

21. Metaphor

22. Mystery

Works Cited

Explores the use of language in Christian theology.


In this wide-ranging work, Garth L. Hallett offers a guided tour through fundamental issues regarding the use of language in theology. His preliminary discussions—on language and thought, language and truth, the authority of language, making sense, the relationship between sense and possibility—prepare linguistic reflection on such topics as inference and argument, universal factual and moral claims, defining and saying what things are, verbal versus nonverbal agreement and disagreement, interfaith dialogue, theological language, and metaphor. Hallett employs a wealth of distinctly Christian examples in these considerations, including love, faith, God, religion, the Eucharist, the afterlife, divine law, evil, the Incarnation, the Trinity, the holy, and many others. In the course of this fascinating exploration, readers should learn to find their way more surely in a vast, complex terrain, and mystery will emerge both diminished and deepened. In addition, at the end of each chapter Hallett provides a series of intriguing quotations that invite further reflection.

Now retired, Garth L. Hallett was Dean of the College of Philosophy and Letters at Saint Louis University. He is the author of many books, including Linguistic Philosophy: The Central Story and Essentialism: A Wittgensteinian Critique, both also published by SUNY Press.


"Hallett is an acknowledged guide to Wittgenstein, and his work offers a helpful explanation of the philosopher's role in altering our understanding of language." — The Thomist