The Ecumenism of Beauty
The Ecumenism of Beauty  -     Edited By: Timothy Verdon
    By: Timothy Verdon, ed.
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The Ecumenism of Beauty

Edited By: Timothy Verdon
Paraclete Press / 2017 / Hardcover

In Stock
Stock No: WW619248


Product Description

In a visual age, The Ecumenism of Beauty shares the belief that beauty and art can bridge differences. Essays from Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant artists, scholars, clergy and theologians explore beauty as a means to unify the body of Christ. The occasion of the Reformation commemoration year offers a time to reflect on the rich artistic heritage shared by all Christians and an opportunity to learn from other traditions. Features full-color photography throughout.

Product Information

Title: The Ecumenism of Beauty
By: Timothy Verdon, ed.
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 128
Vendor: Paraclete Press
Publication Date: 2017
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
Weight: 1 pound 1 ounce
ISBN: 161261924X
ISBN-13: 9781612619248
Series: Mount Tabor Books
Stock No: WW619248

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Publisher's Description

A landmark book on the role of visual arts, beauty and aesthetics in ecumenical exchange.

For the 500th Commemoration Year of the Reformation

In a visual age, this book shares the belief that beauty and art can bridge differences. Essays from catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant artists, scholars, clergy and theologians explore beauty as a means to unify the body of Christ. The occasion of the Reformation commemoration year offers a time to reflect on the rich artistic heritage shared by all Christians and an opportunity to learn from other traditions.

"The Ecumenism of Beauty is a call to the church to again embrace the arts in service to its liturgy and mission." —Sandra Bowden, Collector, Curator and Past President of Christians in the Visual Arts

Essays include Calvin and the Visual Arts: The Aesthetics of Soli Deo Gloria, The Artist as Contemplative, and Art and the Liturgy.

Contributors to this book include:
Timothy Verdon, Editor — Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Director (Florence, Italy)
William Dyrness — Fuller Theological Seminary, Professor of Theology
Jérôme Cottin — University of Strasbourg, Professor of Practical Theology
Susan S. Kanaga
Filippo Rossi
Martin Shannon

Released during the 500th commemoration year of the Reformation, this publication is part of a larger symposium in 2017, The Arts and Ecumenism — What Theology Risks in Artistic Creation, with academic presentations in Paris, Strasbourg, and Florence, and an art exhibit at Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence, Italy. The symposium also includes panel discussions and sessions at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music in New Haven and in Orleans, MA. The symposium is promoted by Catholic and Protestant schools of theology together with Mount Tabor Centre for Art and Spirituality, Barga, Italy and Orleans, MA. The authors of this book are Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant artists, scholars, and clergy who will take part in this symposium.

The work of contributors Susan S. Kanaga and Filippo Rossi is currently on display at the Grande Museo del Duomo in Florence, Italy. For more information visit artsandecumenism.org.

Author Bio

Msgr. Timothy Verdon, an art historian with a PhD from Yale University, directs both the Diocesan Office of Sacred Art and Church Cultural Heritage in Florence, and the Cathedral Foundation Museum (Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore). Author of books and articles on sacred art in Italian and English, he has been a Consultant to the Vatican Commission for Church Cultural Heritage and a Fellow of the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, and currently teaches in the Florence Program of Stanford University. He writes regularly for the cultural page of the Osservatore Romano and in 2010 curated the exhibit Christ. His Body, His Face in Art at the Reggia di Venaria Reale at Turin. Msgr. Verdon is also Director of the Centre for Ecumenism of the Archdiocese of Florence. He lives in Florence, where he is a Canon of the Cathedral. His two books, Art and Prayer: The Beauty of Turning to God and The Story of Saint Fraincis of Assisi: In Twenty-eight Scenes are part of the Mount Tabor Books series.

Editorial Reviews

"The occasion of the Reformation commemoration year offers a time to reflect on the rich artistic heritage shared by all Christians and an opportunity to learn from other traditions. Impressively informative and inherently thoughtful and thought-provoking, The Ecumenism of Beauty is an extraordinary volume that is very highly recommended for the church, community, and academic library Ecumenical Christian collections, and supplemental studies lists. —?Midwest Book Review, June 2017

As a priest as well as a lover of art, Verdon recognizes that prayer and art are natural allies — that spirituality, at heart, is not merely a quest for truth and goodness, but also for authentic beauty as well.

Christians in the east, with their rich tradition of icons, have done a better job at retaining beauty as an integral part of the faith experience. So I truly admire Msgr. Verdon’s efforts to reclaim a rich and authentic spirituality of art. It’s a truly gorgeous book, filled with full color illustrations, that is as much a feast for the eyes as for the mind.

—Carl McColman, patheos.com


The word "ecumenism" puts me to sleep: it only conjures up well-intentioned theological commissions and bland inter-faith celebrations. But I still believe in ecumenism. The only place in my life where I’ve experienced it in a vivid, tangible way is through the arts. Art provides something of an open space for encounter—helpful when there are contentious theologies facing one another—because it is concrete rather than abstract. Enter The Ecumenism of Beauty, edited by the revered art historian Timothy Verdon: the book, published this year to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses, brings together artists and thinkers from Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant traditions. Each essay, beautifully illustrated with color plates, wrestles with some aspect of the historic Christian tension between art as icon...or idol. The writing here is substantial but not scholarly: in a word, accessible. As we reflect on the Reformation this year, the arts can help us gain a deeper sense of what separates—and unites—the body of Christ.

—Gregory Wolfe, Image Journal, Editor

As this book focuses on the relationship between beauty and ecclesiology as I read I kept thinking of what historical theologians call the Medieval transcendentals: the true, the beautiful and the good. In an earlier time, these were all held in tension, as each reflecting something important about God. Evangelicals of the protestant tradition, my tribe, were suspicious of beauty as ephemeral and idolatrous, but we emphasized truth and goodness (and two out of three ain't bad).  However, we are in the midst of a recovery of Protestant theological aesthetics and religious art. This book extends the dialogue between Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants, while honoring the differences and contributions of each tradition.

Appropriately this book is also beautiful, with full-color images on glossy pages. I think Rossi and Kanaga's chapters were my favorite contributions, not only because they showcased their beautiful artwork, but because they reflected on their spiritual experience as artists. I give this five stars and recommend it to anyone concerned about art and the church.

—James Matichuk, thoughtssongsandprayers.com

In what is truly a work of ecumenism, contributors from across denominations (Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, and Catholic) offer essays on the intersection of faith and art in a spirit that illuminates theological aesthetics. Few would argue with Msgr. Verdon (director, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence), who notes that church images have the power and potential to touch the innermost reality of a person's life. Quoting Pope John Paul II, Verdon further observes that Orthodox iconic images also have the ability to teach the faithful the language of beauty in service to faith. The role of sacred art from ecumenical perspectives has rarely been attempted with such simplicity and quality. Gorgeous pictures accompany the essays, which feature perceptions on writing icons, art and liturgy, the artist as contemplative, and the role of theological aesthetics in the Protestant experience. A fascinating chapter offers a reappraisal of reformer John Calvin, who is credited with a dour aesthetic sensibility that continues in Protestantism to this day. VERDICT: A breath of fresh air on theological art. –Sandra Collins, Library Journal, June 2017

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