1st Edition

Redeeming Beauty Soundings in Sacral Aesthetics

By Aidan Nichols O.P. Copyright 2007

    Redeeming Beauty explores the richness of orthodox Christian tradition, both Western and Eastern, in matters of 'sacral aesthetics' - a term used to denote the foundations, production and experience of religiously relevant beauty. Aidan Nichols investigates five principal themes: the foundation of beauty in the natural order through divine creative action; explicitly 'evangelical' beauty as a quality of biblical revelation and notably at its climax in Christ; the legitimacy of making and venerating artworks; qualities of the self in relation to objective presentation of the religiously beautiful; and the difficulties of practising a sacral aesthetic, whether as producer or consumer, in an epoch when the visual arts themselves have left behind not only Church but for the greater part the public as well. The thought of theologians such as Augustine, Aquinas, Balthasar, Ratzinger, Bulgakov, Maritain and others are explored.

    Contents: Preface; Part 1 Foundations, in Creation and Grace: Aesthetics in Augustine and Aquinas; The origin and crisis of Christian art. Part 2 Twentieth Century Theologians of the Image: Hans Urs von Balthasar on art as redemptive beauty; Sergei Bulgakov on the art of the icon; Pope Benedict XVI on holy images. Part 3 The Difficulties of Practice: The French Dominicans and the journal L’Art Sacré; The English uses of Maritain’s aesthetics: Eric Gill and David Jones. Conclusion: Christ and the muses; Index of names.


    Aidan Nichols O. P. is John Paul II Lecturer in Roman Catholic Theology in the University of Oxford, UK. He has also taught at the Pontifical University of St Thomas, Rome; St Mary’s College, Oscott; and Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He has published some thirty books, and over seventy articles.

    ’Nichols's essays raise many other questions that point, directly or indirectly, to the most significant issues in discussion in contemporary theological aesthetics. For this reason, as well as for its historical surveys, the book is of great value for scholars interested in the interrelationships between God, religion, beauty, and the arts.’ Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies ’Redeeming Beauty is a fine addition to a very welcome series... adds to the growing number of recent volumes that emphasize the importance of the visual arts for the disciplines of theology and biblical studies...’ Theology