Transforming Christian Thought in the Visual Arts : Theology, Aesthetics, and Practice book cover
1st Edition

Transforming Christian Thought in the Visual Arts
Theology, Aesthetics, and Practice

ISBN 9780367776084
Published January 9, 2023 by Routledge
266 Pages 49 Color & 43 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $48.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


Sheona Beaumont and Madeleine Emerald Thiele

PART 1: Re-working the Bible Beyond Symbolic Expression

1 ‘The Hearing Ear and the Seeing Eye’: Transformative Listening to the Biblical Image

John Harvey

2 Photography as the Bible’s New Illumination

Sheona Beaumont

3 The Visual Commentary on Scripture: Principles and Possibilities

Ben Quash

4 The Virgin and the Visual Artist as Theologian: Examining Two Marian Images by David Jones

Ewan King

Praxis I:


Sara Mark

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

5 ‘A Sacred Art of the State’: Public Commissions for French Churches, Abbeys, and Cathedrals

Jonathan Koestlé-Cate

6 The Chapel at Royal Holloway: Visual Theology and Women’s Education

John Dickson and Harriet O’Neill

7 The 'Sacred Pastoral' as the Manifestation of Spirituality in the Work of Bishop William Giles

Marjorie Coughlan

Praxis II:


Maciej Urbanek

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

8 Bin Bag Visions: Theological Horizons in Maciej Urbanek’s HS

Jonathan A. Anderson

9 Public Liturgical Theology Through Community and Public Art

Martin Poole and Stephen B. Roberts

10 Stations of the Cross & Stations of the Resurrection: Interdisciplinary Art Practice and its Implications for Visual Theology

Lucy Newman Cleeve


Sheona Beaumont and Madeleine Emerald Thiele

View More



Sheona Beaumont is an artist and writer working with photography. She was Bishop Otter Scholar (2017–2020) with the Diocese of Chichester and King's College London, and her doctorate on the Bible in photography was completed at the International Centre for Biblical Interpretation, University of Gloucestershire. She has written for History of Photography, Religion and the Arts, Art+Christianity, and the Visual Commentary on Scripture, and her artist books include Eye See Trinity and Bristol Through the Lens. She is co-founder of Visual Theology.

Madeleine Emerald Thiele is an art historian whose research examines Tractarian aesthetics and the angelic form within British art c.1840s–1900s. She has presented papers internationally, taught at the University of Bristol, written for the Victorian Web, lectured at Marlborough College, and was the Visual Arts Editor for HARTS & Minds. Madeleine has published on the Pre-Raphaelite artist John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, and she is also co-founder of Visual Theology.