This is a course in Visual Theology, exploring the history of Christian art as a domain of Christian theological thinking through the centuries. Our approach will be to study works of visual art not as illustrating or translating theological texts into visual form but as theological “texts” in their own right—as theology conducted specifically in visual-spatial modes of thinking, amidst and alongside written and verbal theologies. The aim of this course is to learn how to “read” this kind of theology well, in partnership with our reading of other theological texts and commentaries, exploring and experimenting with how visual theology works as theology and how it might contribute to other modes and domains of theological study.
This course will not provide a historical survey of Christian art, nor will it produce a systematic theology of the visual arts (though it will provide prolegomena toward those projects). Rather, we will study the major topics that visual-theological thinking has historically tended to focus on, conducting a series of in-depth case studies of a selection of subjects and themes that have been especially vital in the history of Christian visual theology. In so doing, we will attend to the ways these topics have operated in multiple church traditions and within a wide variety of historical, geographical, and cultural contexts.
3 Credit Hours