“Take heed what ye hear“: listening as a moral, transcendental and transformative act

Bernd Wannenwetsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims to demonstrate that listening is not only a highly complex sensory-perceptive phenomenon, but also an activity that invites considerations of its moral, political and religious dimensions. Drawing from the perspective of an early monastic tradition that understood theology as a sounding practice rather than a primarily cognitive one, the author draws attention to the fact that the biblical tradition itself prioritized hearing over seeing in its portrayal of the human being as ‘all ear’ when communicating with and responding to a God that addresses her from the first. Analyses of Martin Luther's account of the new creation in Christ as one that will be awakened to hearing afresh, thus becoming attentive to the ‘address of creation through creation’, and of his theology of the psalter, in which the reformer presents an excitingly different hermeneutics of scriptural interpretation based on the sensory perception of hearing/chanting the text, prepare for concluding remarks on the inevitably communicative and quasi-sacramental character of listening.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-102
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Royal Musical Association
Issue numberSuppl. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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