The metaphor of performance has been applied fruitfully by anthropologists and other social theorists to different aspects of human social existence, and furnishes a potentially helpful model in terms of which to think theologically about Christian life. After an introductory editorial chapter reflecting on the nature of artistic performance and its relationship to the notions of tradition and identity, Part One of this book attends specifically to the phenomenon of dramatic performance and possible theological applications of it. Part Two considers various aspects of the performance of Christian identity, looking at worship, the interpretation of the Bible, Christian response to elements in the contemporary media, the shape of Christian moral life, and ending with a theological reflection on the shape of personal identity, correlating it with the theatrical metaphors of 'character' and 'performing a part' in a scripted drama. Part Three demonstrates how art forms (including some technically non-performative ones - literature, poetry, painting) may constitute faithful Christian practices in which the tradition is authentically 'performed', producing works which break open its meaning in profound new ways for a constantly shifting context.
Trevor A. Hart is Professor of Divinity and Principal of St Mary's College, University of St Andrews, UK. He is Director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts. Steven R. Guthrie is Lecturer in Theology at Belmont University, Nashville, USA.