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Cover for Earthly Visions

Earthly Visions

Theology and the Challenges of Art

Timothy J. Gorringe


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This stimulating book argues that great art can function as a "secular parable"—that is, like the parables of Jesus, art can lead viewers to reflect on the reality and presence of God in the world. T. J. Gorringe examines representative secular paintings of the most significant types (mythological themes, genre painting, portraiture, landscape, still life, abstract art), showing how each type can point toward God, whether by envisaging an alternative future, creating aesthetic delight, or teaching us to see things differently. His provocative study challenges the notion that art since the 15th century has become increasingly secularized. 

Gorringe gives careful consideration to each work's historical background and artistic context, as well as to art historical and critical appraisals. With an ecumenical approach, he then provides an insightful argument for how each piece can be read theologically. Although readers may sometimes disagree with his theological stance or his interpretation of specific works, his engaging commentary provokes reflection and challenges deeper questioning and awareness.

Praise For Earthly Visions: Theology and the Challenges of Art

“….subtle and well-argued.”—Michael Glover, The Independent
— Michael Glover

“A visually beautiful and thoughtful discussion on the frontiers of theology that deserves a wider readership than just theological professionals.”—Rowan Williams, Times Literary Supplement (Books of the Year)
— Rowan Williams

“Earthly Visions is nothing less than an education in seeing, a re-visioning of the cosmos grasped and remade in Christ. And for that we should be profoundly grateful.”—Jeremy Begbie, The Tablet
— Jeremy Begbie

Shortlisted for the 2011 ACE Mercers' International Book Award (UK Award)
— International Book Award Shortlist

“Extravagantly produced . . . demonstrate[s] the expansive importance of beauty.”—Steven Guthrie, Image
— Steven Guthrie

“Gorringe brings readers to a basic understanding of theological aesthetics. . . . I recommend this book for those seeking to approach theological aesthetics for the first time or for average museum or gallery goers.”—Jeremy W. H. Arnold, Religious Studies Review 
— Jeremy W. H. Arnold

Yale University Press, 9780300162806, 264pp.

Publication Date: October 4, 2011

About the Author

T. J. Gorringe is St. Luke's Professor of Theological Studies at the University of Exeter.