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Visual Faith

William A. Dyrness (Baker Academic: Jan 1, 2001), 190 pages.

How can art enhance and enrich the Christian faith? What is the basis for a relationship between the church and visual imagery? Can the art world and the Protestant church be reconciled? Is art idolatry and vanity, or can it be used to strengthen the church? Grounded in historical and biblical research, William Dyrness offers students and scholars an intriguing, substantive look into the relationship between the church and the world of art. Faith and art were not always discordant. According to Dyrness, Israel understood imagery and beauty as reflections of God’s perfect order; likewise, early Christians used art to teach and inspire. However, the Protestant church abandoned visual arts and imagery during the Reformation in favor of the written word and has only recently begun to reexamine art’s role in Christianity and worship. Dyrness affirms this renewal and argues that art, if reflecting the order and wholeness of the world God created, can and should play an important role in modern Christianity.

Table of Contents

    • List of Illustrations     7
    • Preface     9
    • Introduction: The Uneasy Relationship between Art and Faith     11
    • 1. Development of the Visual Arts from the Early Church to the Middle Ages     25
    • 2. Development of the Visual Arts from the Reformation to the Twenty-First Century     51
    • 3. Art and the Biblical Drama     69
    • 4. Reflecting Theologically on the Visual Arts     87
    • 5. Contemporary Challenges for Christians and the Arts     103
    • 6. A New Opportunity for Christian Involvement in the Arts     121
    • 7. Making and Looking at Art     139
    • Conclusion: Dreaming Dreams and Seeing Visions     155
    • Notes     163
    • Bibliography     177
    • Subject Index     181
    • Scripture Index     187