The Triumph of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts, from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation

The Triumph of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts, from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation

The Triumph of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts, from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation

The Triumph of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts, from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation

Synopsis

This is a sequel to Richard Viladesau's well-received 2006 study, The Beauty of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts from the Catacombs to the Eve of the Renaissance. It continues his project of presenting theological history by using art as both an independant religious or theological "text" and as a means of understanding the cultural context for academic theology. Viladesau argues that art and symbolism function as an alternative strand of theological expression --sometimes parallel to, sometimes interwoven with, and sometimes in tension with formal theological reflection on the meaning of crucifixion and its role in salvation history. Using specific works of art to epitomize particular artistic and theological paradigms, he explores the contours of each paradigm through the works of representative theologians as well as liturgical, poetic, artistic, and musical sources. The period covered by this new volume is one that was especially eventful for both theology and art, and thus particularly fruitful for Viladesau's project.

Excerpt

This book serves as a sequel to my earlier study The Beauty of the Cross. That volume examines the passion of Christ as presented in theology and the arts from the beginnings of the church to the late Middle Ages. The present volume takes up the same theme in the period of the Renaissance and Reformation. At the same time, it may also be read independently, as a self-standing study of Christian approaches to the theme of the cross in a period particularly eventful for both theology and art. For those who read it without having read the previous volume, I will here repeat certain points concerning the intent and method of my project as a whole.

Contemporary scientific studies confirm the philosophical position that human thought takes place in many forms besides the verbal/conceptual. Even within linguistic modes of thinking, imagination and feeling seem to play a much stronger and more integral role than was once conceived in purely rationalist epistemology.

Recent scholarship increasingly has turned to art and music as being ways not only of communicating, but also of thinking. Their relationship with verbal/conceptual thought is complex. At one extreme, they may exist as completely independent “languages” and forms of cognition, conveying a message that is untranslatable into words. At the other extreme, they may serve the communication of verbally expressed concepts, as simple bearers of words or of symbols that refer to words. Or they may take on roles that are . . .

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