Engagement with the Arts

Authored by: Richard Viladesau

The Routledge Companion to the Practice of Christian Theology

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415617369
eBook ISBN: 9781315724799
Adobe ISBN: 9781317532026


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The engagement of Christianity with the arts has been a reality nearly since the beginnings of the Christian community. However, through most of the Church’s history that engagement was practical rather than theoretical. Christian theology shows itself implicitly in the artistic practice of Christian communities. Over the centuries artistic genres, styles, and forms that were derived from Christian doctrines and ideas developed. For example, in ritual drama, there are the Eucharistic liturgy and Holy Week services; in rhetoric, there are the homily and sermon; in painting and sculpture, there are specifically Christian genres like the crucifix, the ‘Madonna and child’, and there are Christian styles like the Byzantine icon; in music, we have ‘Gregorian’ and Byzantine chant, sacred oratorios, and the Lutheran oratorio-Passion; in architecture, we see the basilica church and the cathedral; in literature, we find sacred poetry and legends of the saints; and there are many mixed forms, like the illustrated book of hours or sacred dramas, from which Western theatre eventually evolved.

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