'Aesthetics' and 'theological aesthetics' usually imply a focus on questions about the arts and how faith or religion relates to the arts; only the final pages of this work take up that problem. The central theme of this book is that of beauty. Farley employs a new typology of western texts on beauty and a theological analysis of the image of God and redemption to counter the centuries-long tendency to ignore or marginalize beauty and the aesthetic as part of the life of faith. Studying the interpretation of beauty in ancient Greece, eighteenth-century England, the work of Jonathan Edwards, and nineteenth and twentieth-century philosophies of human self-transcendence, the author explores whether Christian existence, the life of faith, and the ethical exclude or require an aesthetic dimension in the sense of beauty. The work will be of particular interest to those interested in Christian theology, ethics, and religion and the arts.
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Edward Farley, Vanderbilt University, USAReview:
'The most important book I have read for years. Farley strikes the right chord in the way he goes behind the current discussion and lays a solid foundation for the kind of theological depth that has to be brought to the question of beauty. He makes the issue alive to the most recent scholarship.' John Cook, President of the Henry Luce Foundation, USA 'In this eloquently written book, Edward Farley brings a gentle, carefully crafted clarity to these matters...With much dexterity, he exposes and challenges some of the dichotomies that have marred a proper appreciation of beauty, not least in the Church...The discussion is rich and full of wisdom, and a model of how to say a great deal with few words.' Theology ' ...Farley's focus on the transformative aspects of beauty allows him to innovatively harmonize a variety of divergent theoretical strands into a complex and satisfying theological asesthetic that is itself beautiful, in the Whiteheadian sense of being a real creative accomplishment of synthesis.' Journal of Religion 'Farley follows a course from ancient Greece, through the Middle Ages and the eighteenth century to the modern day. His aim is to establish a link between faith, understood as the experience of a redeemed life, and aesthetic experience... Farley's route...is to seek for beauty in the process of redemptive remaking, through the restoration of the divine image in human being marred by sin... it does...point to the potential fruitfulness of a renewed debate between Christian thinkers and contemporary artists.' Art and Christianity Enquiry Bulletin 'In grappling with Christian theology and with aesthetics, Farley has illuminated a valuable area of discussion.' Church Times 'In this magisterial study Farley attempts to situate the transcendental of beauty within the Christian experience of faith. Studying the conflictual relationship between Christianity and esthetic concerns, Farley develops a useful typology of the various identities beauty has assumed in Western culture: beauty as beast, as being, as sensibility, as benevolence, and as self-transcendence... It offers a welcome counterpoint to the contemporary vapors of "creation theology" intoxicated by facile beauties and cheap grace.' Theological Studies '... Farley's analysis reminds us of some important past work in theological aesthetics, and his conclusions desperately need advocating in our post-modern society.' Themelios 'Edward Farley has produced a work on beauty characterized by enormous theological depth, simplicity of style and lapidary insight. His theological aesthetic is concerned to develop an understanding of the intrinsic relationship of beauty, or that which is intrinsically attractive, to faith, as the life of communal and individual response which arises with redemption... This is a wonderful book which goes a long way in restoring the idea of and passion for redemptive beauty to our world. It is in itself a moment of that redemptive beauty.' Modern Theology
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