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Theology and the Arts

Richard Viladesau (Paulist Press: Jul 2000), 288 pages.

Richard Viladesau’s book takes a look at an inviting topic that has come into increasing prominence in a number of fields lately — including theology. Theology and the Arts explores, in a timely and engaging manner, several aspects of the relations between theology and aesthetics, in both the pastoral and academic realms. The underlying motif of this work is that beauty is a means of divine revelation, and that art is the human mediation that both enables and limits its revelatory power. Using examples from music, pictorial art and rhetoric, the five chapters explore different aspects of the ways that art enters into theology and theology into art, both in pastoral practice, e.g., liturgical music, sacred art and preaching, and in the area of systematic reflection, where, Viladesau contends, art must be recognized as a genuine theological text. A reader-friendly feature of this work is the addition, after the central chapters, of a discography of illustrative musical works and lists of internet sights of sacred art and art history resources-a virtual museum — that will complement the text. These enhance the value of this well-written, provocative text. Although aimed at undergraduate theology students, it will certainly capture the interest of art students, pastoral ministers and anyone who appreciates the arts.

Table of Contents  

    • Introduction 1
    • Abbreviations 9
  • Chapter 1 God and the Beautiful: Art as a Way to God 11
    • A. Historical tensions between music and the sacred 13
    • B. Music and the theology of the word 29
    • C. Music as an approach to God 34
    • D. Considerations for liturgical praxis 46
    • Web sites for viewing illustrations 59
    • Discography 60
  • Chapter 2 Paradigms in Theology and in Art 66
    • Prelude: Two visions of David: Michelangelo and Bernini 66
    • A. The notion of paradigm change in science and theology 73
    • B. Paradigm changes in the history of art: the moving point of view 80
    • C. The moving point of view: parallels in art, philosophy, and theology 96
    • D. The contemporary paradigm of Roman Catholic theology and its trajectory toward the future 107
    • Web sites for viewing illustrations 120
  • Chapter 3 Art as a Theological Text 123
    • A. The dimensions of art as text 123
    • B. Art as locus of the faith tradition 124
    • C. Art as the bearer of a theological message 134
      • 1. Pictorial art as scripture 135
      • 2. Art as visible reflection of the divine beauty and mystery 144
      • 3. Sacred art as embodiment of the Christian "classic" 151
    • D. Art as text for theology: expression of the human situation 154
    • E. Limitations of art as text and as revelatory word 157
    • F. The sacramental power of art 158
      Web sites for viewing illustrations 165
  • Chapter 4 Theology, Aesthetics, and the Art of Preaching 167
    • A. Theological Aesthetics and Aesthetic Theology 167
    • B. Preaching as Aesthetic Theology 171
      • 1. The renewal of eucharistic preaching in the contemporary church 171
      • 2. Faith and preaching: The New Testament basis 173
      • 3. Elements of preaching: theology, spirituality, art 176
    • C. Preaching and faith in the contemporary world 193
    • D. Theology in the art of preaching 197
      • 1. Types of theology and of preaching 197
      • 2. Foundational theology and contemporary preaching 200
      • 3. Method in foundational theology 207
    • E. Insight, virtue, and art in foundational theology 210
    • F. Theological method and art in homily preparation 211
    • Chapter 5 Conclusion: Revelation, Art, and Theology 217
    • Notes 230
    • Index 264