Chapter

The Beauty and the Scandal of the Cross

Richard Viladesau

in The Beauty of the Cross

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780195188110
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784738 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019518811X.003.0001
 The Beauty and the Scandal of the Cross

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Christianity has always had an “aesthetic” theology: an understanding of faith that is truly reflective but whose reflection is embodied in artistic modes of thinking and communicating. This more primary aesthetic theology is important as a source of the faith tradition and as a parallel reflection on it. The historical relationship between the aesthetic and conceptual mediations of theology is complex: Christian art has frequently functioned as an illustration of dogma, but it is also an independent mode of understanding that goes beyond doctrinal formulations and is sometimes in tension with them. The cross provides a particularly fruitful subject for the study of this relationship. As the central symbol of Christianity, it embodies the paradox of the scandal of Christ’s ignominious death becoming a locus of beauty. This study compares classic paradigms of conceptual theology with styles of Christian art.

Keywords: aesthetic theology; beauty; classics; death of Jesus; doctrine; styles; symbol; theological paradigms

Chapter.  7444 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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