A Word from Jehovah's Withness
Is it possible to speak if you haven't first been spoken to? Babies who are not immersed in language during the critical developmental window never learn how to speak, at least not properly.
You know the old crack about how ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny? Well, there first has to be a phylogeny -- a course of evolutionary development -- to recapitulate. Obviously the origin of language cannot be an infinite regress. It had to start somewhere.
Among other things, Genesis recaps the genesis of language. Brueggemann points out that "of all the creatures of God's eight creative acts, God speaks only to human creatures. The others have no speech directed toward them at all."
This implies that we learned how to speak from God himselves. For example, early on he twice addresses us (man-and-woman) directly as "you."
Thus, man is a You to God's I AM; he "has a different, intimate relation with the creator." He walks and talks with God, whereas other creatures cannot be "with" in the intersubjective sense of oneness-in-twoness. "With" implies relation, or a unity beneath division.
"God has made a peculiarly intense commitment" to this freaking speakish creature; at once he gives him the capacity to speak-with, but at the same time, the freedom to end the con-versation (flowing together) by growing his own separate way.
Note the ways in which the theme of language reappears later in the Bible; I count at least three major ways, and they must be related to the great theme(s) enunciated in Genesis.
First there is the Tower of Babel, which is just a collective recapitulation of the theme of appropriating language for ourselves and forgetting where it came from, such that we all fall downagain.
Then there is the fresh take on the Word of God in John 1: instead of speaking with man, this very speech becomes man and is thereby with him in a new way. This implies that in being "with" Jesus, man is with the same with-ness that was available to Adam in the Garden.
I want to say that Jesus is Jehovah's withness.
And I suppose Matthew 1:23 expresses this idea quite literally: 'and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'
In the passage immediately thereafter, Joseph is awakened from his sleep and once again God is speaking; he is in-formed about some vital in-formation carried by Mary.
Later, we read of how John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness, implying that not a lot of people were listening, or at least not hearing. He is not in the temple or the town square, but in the middle of nowhere. Few people are getting with the far-out things he has to say.
If Babel is the fragmentation of the divine gift of language due to misuse, then Pentecost represents the healing of this fracture.
And one way -- I would say the way -- language recovers its wholeness is via the Spirit of the Word-Jesus.
In author's word, God -- as if to emphasize the point -- has given a "last word" whom it is much more difficult to mis- and disunderstand, although it obviously isn't impossible. We still have our freedom, the same freedom Adam had to imagine he invented language.
There are many ways to look at the incident in the Garden, but in the present context I would say that when Adam eats of the forbidden fruit, he is granted ontological tenure. He is now a professor of deconstruction, in that language loses its transcendent reference (and source) and devolves to a self-referential tool of power instead of truth.
This is also the birth of the left. Whenever a liberal speaks, ontogeny is recrapitulating an unfortunate phylogeny.