Seeing the Bible : a theological retrieval of visualization in the Christian tradition
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This thesis aims to provide a theological retrieval of visualization in the Christian tradition. More specifically, it seeks to contribute to the field of narrative or postliberal theology through a deeper engagement with visual sources, and through a sustained analysis of the power of the visual imagination for encountering the biblical story. Though generally positive about the role of the imagination in biblical interpretation, theologians directly associated with postliberal theology have paid insufficient attention to the role and implications of visualizing the biblical narrative. Utilizing resources from the burgeoning field known as Visual Exegesis, this thesis analyzes three key texts from within the Christian tradition: Pseudo-Bonaventure’s, Meditations on the Life of Christ; St Ignatius of Loyola’s, The Spiritual Exercises; and John Bunyan’s, The Pilgrim’s Progress. I approach each of these three well-known texts through their lesser-known earliest illustrations, seeing in these illustrations witnesses to the strategies of visualization invited by the texts, and practiced by some of their first readers. Just as these resources, and techniques, have animated engagement with the Biblical narrative in the past so, this thesis argues, they may profoundly inform and animate visualization of the biblical narrative in the present. This retrieval of diverse approaches to visualization in the Christian tradition seeks, thereby, to make an important contribution to the scholarship in postliberal theology. Moreover, the late-twentieth century flowering of theological interest in the implications of biblical narrative as narrative provides a novel and fruitful point of dialogue with each of the key texts, and periods, that I am approaching.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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