Images increasingly saturate our world, making present to us what is distant or obscure. Yet the power of images also arises from what they do not make present―from a type of absence they do not dispel. Joining a growing multidisciplinary conversation that rejects an understanding of images as lifeless objects, this book offers a theological meditation on the ways images convey presence into our world. Just as Christ negates himself in order to manifest the invisible God, images, Natalie Carnes contends, negate themselves to give more than they literally or materially are. Her Christological reflections bring iconoclasm and iconophilia into productive relation, suggesting that they need not oppose one another.
Investigating such images as the biblical golden calf and paintings of the Virgin Mary, Carnes explores how to distinguish between iconoclasms that maintain fidelity to their theological intentions and those that lead to visual temptation. Offering ecumenical reflections on issues that have long divided Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions, Image and Presence provokes a fundamental reconsideration of images and of the global image crises of our time.
Beauty engages fourth-century bishop Gregory of Nyssa to address beauty's place in theology and the broader world. With the recent resurgence of attention to beauty among theologians, questions still remain about what exactly beauty is, how it is perceived, and whether we should celebrate its return. If beauty fell out of favor because it was seen to distract from the weightier concerns of poverty and suffering--because it can even be a tool of oppression--why should we laud it now? Gregory's writings offer surprisingly rich and relevant reflections that can move contemporary conversations beyond current impasses and critiques of beauty. Drawing Gregory into conversation with such disparate voices as novelist J. M. Coetzee and art theorist Kaja Silverman, Beauty displays the importance of beauty to theology and theology to beauty in a discussion that bridges ancient and modern, practical and theoretical, secular and religious.