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June 15, 2007



Lovely intro. Thanks.

I thought the response to the question of whether Jesus is God was spot on.

Nice application of semiotics.


Tracking with your saying the most we can hope for is to make sense of the signifier. However, what do we do with explicit claims by the signifier that 'when you see me, you have seen the Father?'

It looks like the signifier is making something like an identity claim between him and the signified.

If we take the words of 'if you see me, you've seen the Father' seriously, then it seems to strong to say 'we still don't know what the sign means.'

We may not understand EVERYTHING that or COMPLETELY what the sign means, but it seems like overreaching to say 'we still don't know what the sign means.'

Do you mean to say 'the sign is unintelligible' or 'the sign doesn't make complete sense'?

If you mean the first, I'm not sure how that argument goes. If you mean the second, I don't know that you would get much disagreement outside of fundamentalist circles.



Saying we've seen the father advances the argument no further. It's not as if Jesus is saying we've seen YHWH. Instead, we have a reference to a less clear metaphor for God, at least within a trinitarian framework.

Second problem is that we have a witness's words that Jesus said communicated through at least one degree of separation (the writer), then a tradition, then a translation, and more translations, and then 2000 years of history. To say that Jesus said x doesn't communicate a whole lot of meaning in that instance.

However, you'll notice that I said, along with Scott, that the signifier in this case is an accurate representation of God. So, for what it's worth, the sign seems to be nearly identical to the signified to the degree that we can understand the interpretant. However, we are still arguing about who Jesus is and what he meant 2000 years later. It seems that despite his assurance that seeing him is seeing the Father, we're not a whole lot closer to making sense of the sign.


From a neo-reformed post-fundamentalist pre-postmodern perspective I would say that "meaning" would mean the truth contained in observance of reality (reality in truth being the actual will of God). This would imply that not all meaning comes from the will of God, but all true meaning does (my reformed theology may struggle a bit with that statement, but it is true by observation, although that does not mean it is true in fact according to the will of God). That being said, the answer to the question of whether God is meaningful apart from the symbols he provides is obviously yes, as he is the source of true meaning and only needs to be meaningful to himself in order to be meaningful in truth. Christianity must be "semiotic" as I understand it because we live in a fallen world. The problem is that because of sin we live in an existence where the closest we can approach the holiness of God is by attempting to interpret the symbols He has provided in order to try and understand who He is. When we are finally fully sanctified through Christ's atoning work on the cross, we will be able to view the signified through the signifier without the need of an interpretant.

I haven't read anything on semiotics, this is my feeble attempt to apply it to my doctrine according to your examples of it (which were good ... as far as I know).


It's no coincidence that Peirce was a logician; issues like this come up all the time in model theory, though the conversations are a lot more precise and a lot less relevant to most folks. Understanding what it means that you can only talk about subject X through the lens of a model M is bread-and-butter for working mathematicians.

I agree that Saussure's system is too simple to work with. You lose too much of the story when you can't focus on interpretations themselves as players on the stage. A lot of mathematics would be impossible, and the history of theology would become incoherent--either with a purely chaotic signified, or barking mad signifiers.

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