Transforming book

Forthcoming in July 2021, this is Visual Theology’s first publication, an edited collection of essays in the series Routledge Studies in Theology, Imagination and the Arts.

From the book jacket:

This volume explores how the visual arts are presenting and responding to Christian theology and demonstrates how modern and contemporary artists and artworks have actively engaged in conversation with Christianity. Modern intellectual enquiry has often been reluctant to engage theology as an enriching or useful form of visual analysis, but critics are increasingly revisiting religious narratives and Christian thought in pursuit of understanding our present-day visual culture.

In this book an international group of contributors demonstrate how theology is often implicit within artworks and how, regardless of a viewer’s personal faith, it can become implicit in a viewer’s visual encounter. Their observations include deliberate juxtaposition of Christian symbols; imaginative play with theologies; the validation of non-confessional or secular public engagement; and inversions of biblical interpretation. Case-studies such as an interactive Easter, glow-sticks as sacrament, and visualisation of the Bible’s polyphonic voices enrich this discussion. Together, they call for a greater interpretative generosity and more nuance around theology’s cultural contexts in the modern era.

By engaging with theology, culture and the visual art, this collection offers a fresh lens through which to see the interaction of religion and art. As such, it will be of great use to those working in Religion and the Arts, Visual Art, Material Religion, Theology, Aesthetics and Cultural Studies.


Introduction by Sheona Beaumont and Madeleine Emerald Thiele

PART 1: Re-working the Bible Beyond Symbolic Expression

‘The Hearing Ear and the Seeing Eye’: Transformative Listening to the Biblical Image by John Harvey
Photography as the Bible’s New Illumination by Sheona Beaumont
The Visual Commentary on Scripture: Principles and Possibilities by Ben Quash
The Virgin and the Visual Artist as Theologian: Examining Two Marian Images by David Jones by Ewan King

Praxis I:
LAVANT 2018 Sara Mark

PART 2: Re-Shaping Institutional and Historical Cross-Currents 

‘A Sacred Art of the State’: Public Commissions for French Churches, Abbeys, and Cathedrals by Jonathan Koestlé-Cate
The Chapel at Royal Holloway: Visual Theology and Women’s Education by John Dickson and Harriet O’Neill
The ‘Sacred Pastoral’ as the Manifestation of Spirituality in the Work of Bishop William Giles by Marjorie Coughlan

Praxis II:
HS Maciej Urbanek

PART 3: Re-Discovering the Church Space in Liturgy, Performance, and Installation

Bin Bag Visions: Theological Horizons in Maciej Urbanek’s HS by Jonathan A. Anderson
Public Liturgical Theology Through Community and Public Art by Martin Poole and Stephen B. Roberts
Stations of the Cross & Stations of the Resurrection: Interdisciplinary Art Practice and its Implications for Visual Theology by Lucy Newman Cleeve

Envoi by Sheona Beaumont and Madeleine Emerald Thiele