ineffabilis, from in- + effabilis capable of being expressed, from effari to speak out, from ex- + fari to speak -- more at BAN
1 a : incapable of being expressed in words

A. Dionysius: God is ineffable because

1) beyond the capability of human expression

2) continual outpouring: inexhaustibility

3) counterpart to revelation (concealment)

B. A mystical method for opening up language

1. Hadewijch of Antwerp: It has opened me up/wider than wide

C. If God became human, the Word is expressed in human language

D. Gendered language to express God

1. erotic imagery (Song of Songs, courtly love traditions)

2. God as Minne

3. The Motherhood of God

4. Jesus giving birth on the cross

E. The modern mindset

1. William James: an experience that defies description; a state of feeling, not intellect

2. metaphors evoke shadows "at the edges of our minds"

3. Kant: normal consciousness cannot encounter God

4. Romanticism: intense emotion provides a door to an area otherwise closed

5. Schliermacher: religion is essentially experiential, not moral, and precedes intellectual consciousness

--no distinction between subject and object

--must be fleeting


6. Medieval mystics: intellect not contrasted with emotion

7. If it is private, subjective, and intense, it has no public power

8. Hence, available to women