"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Religion and the Arts

I'm looking forward this fall to being able to teach my course on iconography again after several years. As I noted earlier this year, there has been an explosion in books about iconoclasm (another of which I discussed elsewhere) and I'm keen to assign at least one or two of them to read with my students. For those desirous of a more global picture of the relationship between religion and art, a new handbook would seem ideal: Frank Burch Brown, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts (Oxford UP, 2014), 564pp.

About this collection we are told:
Nearly every form of religion or spirituality has a vital connection with art. Religions across the world, from Hinduism and Buddhism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, have been involved over the centuries with a rich array of artistic traditions, both sacred and secular. In its uniquely multi-dimensional consideration of the topic, The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts provides expert guidance to artistry and aesthetic theory in religion.

The Handbook offers nearly forty original essays by an international team of leading scholars on the main topics, issues, methods, and resources for the study of religious and theological aesthetics. The volume ranges from antiquity to the present day to examine religious and artistic imagination, fears of idolatry, aesthetics in worship, and the role of art in social transformation and in popular religion-covering a full array of forms of media, from music and poetry to architecture and film.

An authoritative text for scholars and students, The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts will remain an invaluable resource for years to come.

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