Between the Image and the Word: Theological Engagements with Imagination, Language and Literature, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Between the Image and the Word

Theological Engagements with Imagination, Language and Literature, 1st Edition

By Trevor Hart


262 pages

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The central contention of Christian faith is that in the incarnation the eternal Word or Logos of God himself has taken flesh, so becoming for us the image of the invisible God. Our humanity itself is lived out in a constant to-ing and fro-ing between materiality and immateriality. Imagination, language and literature each have a vital part to play in brokering this hypostatic union of matter and meaning within the human creature. Approaching different aspects of two distinct movements between the image and the word, in the incarnation and in the dynamics of human existence itself, Trevor Hart presents a clearer understanding of each and explores the juxtapositions with the other. Hart concludes that within the Trinitarian economy of creation and redemption these two occasions of ’flesh-taking’ are inseparable and indivisible.


’Hart is at his best (which is very good) when he is elucidating a central Christian idea by drawing on the work of imaginative writers…anyone interested in theological aesthetics will find much to reflect on in this book.’ Theology ’The fourteenth century poet Petrarch, in one of his letters, posed this rhetorical question: What is theology if not poetry about God?� In this collection of illuminating essays, grounded in an excursus on the inevitable character of theological language as thinkers from Aquinas to Ricoeur have understood it, Trevor Hart explores with insight and verve the theological potential in verbal and visual imagery (ut picture poesis). The result is a highly stimulating contribution to reflection on the nature of theology itself as well as on its fruitful dance among the arts.’ David Jeffrey, Baylor University Waco, USA ’This is a work of serious and profound theological reflection which takes entirely seriously - as theology itself all too often fails to do - the place of the imagination in religious thought and life. While rooted in a constant return to the Christological, it ranges over wide sea of theological themes and theologians, at the same time bringing into the conversation creative writers such from Dorothy Sayers to J.R.R. Tolkien and Shusaku Endo. The relationship between Christian theology and the arts is ever shifting and creative and Professor Hart's work is a major contribution to that on-going and lively dialogue.’ David Jasper, University of Glasgow, UK

About the Author

Trevor Hart is Professor of Divinity and (since 2000) Director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts in the University of St Andrews. Formerly Lecturer in Systematic Theology in the University of Aberdeen, he is the author and editor of numerous publications including Faith Thinking (SPCK, 2000), Regarding Karl Barth (Paternoster, 1999), Hope Against Hope (Eerdmans,1999), Tolkien, Literature and Theology (Baylor, 2007), Faithful Performances (Ashgate, 2007), and Patterns of Promise (Ashgate, 2012).

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Theology, Imagination and the Arts

What have imagination and the arts to do with theology? For much of the modern era, the answer has been 'not much'. It is precisely this deficit that this series seeks to redress. For, whatever role they have or have not been granted in the theological disciplines, imagination and the arts are undeniably bound up with how we as human beings think, learn and communicate, engage with and respond to our physical and social environments and, in particular, our awareness and experience of that which transcends our own creatureliness. The arts are playing an increasingly significant role in the way people come to terms with the world; at the same time, artists of many disciplines are showing a willingness to engage with religious or theological themes. A spate of publications and courses in many educational institutions has already established this field as one of fast-growing concern. This series taps into a burgeoning intellectual concern on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. The peculiar inter-disciplinarity of theology, and the growing interest in imagination and the arts in many different fields of human concern, afford the opportunity for a series that has its roots sunk in varied and diverse intellectual soils, while focused around a coherent theological question: How are imagination and the arts involved in the shaping and reshaping of our humanity as part of the creative and redemptive purposes of God, and what roles do they perform in the theological enterprise? Many projects within the series have particular links to the work of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts in the University of St Andrews, and to the Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts at Duke University.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Subjects & Themes / Religious
RELIGION / Christianity / General