Artistic Imagination and Religious Faith

Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts

Published in print February 2014 | ISBN: 9780195176674
Published online February 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Artistic Imagination and Religious Faith

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  • Religious Subjects in Art
  • Philosophy of Religion
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The central role of the imagination in theology and religion has often been neglected by theologians. The chapter considers how the imagination and, in particular, artistic imagination, faith and theology are related. It provides a brief outline of perspectives on the meaning and function of the imagination in relation to faith and art by leading philosophers and theologians in history from the Hebrew Bible, Plato, and Aristotle to Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Kant, Burke, Schleiermacher, Schelling, and Kierkegaard. The chapter discusses the act of imagination as a fundamental source and requisite in faith, art, and creativity, in beauty and the sublime, in aesthetics, and in any development of human knowledge. The role of art is explored as a locus theologicus with reference to Tillich and contemporary theologians. Finally, the eschatological dimension as the ultimate link between artistic imagination and Christian faith concludes the chapter.

Keywords: art; beauty; Christianity; creativity; eschatology; faith; imagination; philosophy; sublime; theology

Article.  6655 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Subjects in Art ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religious Studies

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