A Redemptive Theology of Art develops a biblical, systematic, and practical theology of aesthetics. It begins with the roots and ontology of aesthetics (vs. "art") and the architecture and narrative of affection and passion, their woes and their glory.
Those who would search the Bible find little support for "art" as commonly conceived in the West. The language of aesthetics, applied to the maker's intentions, the qualities of the work, and the responses of the audience, better addresses the questions of beauty, and better suits the discussion of human actions, beliefs, and culture than the language of art does. The Bible yields more consistent and helpful answers to questions about the broader category of aesthetics than it does to questions about art; leading in turn to better questions and a more practical and theological appreciation of human affections, beauty, and delight, and the many paths by which people, including Christians, pursue them.
Using the categories and definitions from Scripture, Covington gives hope and help not only for those who labor in the arts, but for everyone who cares about the passions that motivate us. We were made for God's delight, and, though sin and bondage plague our passions, God can shape our fun, feelings, desires, affections and aversions. Feelings are neither objective nor subjective; they are redeemable. Borrowing key ideas from other Christian writers on the arts or aesthetics, Covington explores the connection between orthodox Protestant theology and a responsible, respectful treatment of arts, artists, and all aesthetic fields of human work and speech.
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About the Author
David A. Covington (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a singer and songwriter. He studied art and music at UCLA, made several albums, and hit the road with his wife, Sharon, as a touring duo, Covington & Covington, singing and speaking at colleges, clubs, conferences, retreats, churches, and schools around the United States and in Russia. His musical interests drew him to study biblical aesthetics, first at L’Abri in Switzerland and then at Westminster Theological Seminary. Together David and Sharon counsel and teach for church and schools, keep writing and recording, and mentor young Christian grad students at the Trinity Forum Academy. They now reside on their homestead in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Power of Beauty
Chapter 2: Art or Aesthetics?
Chapter 3: The Aesthetic Bible
Chapter 4 The Eye of God
Chapter 5 Aesthetic Genesis
Chapter 6 Triads, in Scripture and in Culture (Synchronic view)
Chapter 7 Three-Stranded Story (Diachronic view)
Chapter 8 The Aesthetic Effects of Sin
Chapter 9 The Aesthetic Cross
Chapter 10 The Aesthetic Effects of Redemption
Chapter 11 Theo-Analogy, a Theology of Aesthetics
Chapter 12 Pleasures Forevermore
Chapter 13 Conclusion. Magnificent: Seeing God in Aesthetics
Chapter 14 Eyes Redeemed and Redeeming: Cultural Conversations and Case Studies
What People are Saying About This
David Covington has given us a remarkable window onto the Bible's take on aesthetics.He gently but firmly deflates adages such as 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' andother subjective judgments, but without demeaning the spirit from which they aregenerated. A thoroughly elevating read. William Edgar, professor of apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary
What is beauty and what is God's relationship to beauty? Can we, his image bearers, produce beauty? How does our sin affect our appreciation of and creation of beauty? David Covington explores these and other questions with profound biblical and theological sensitivity. His reflections are revelatory and insightful. I strongly recommend this book not only to artists, for whom this book should be mandatory reading, but to everyone who wants Christian answers to these important questions. Tremper Longman III, Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies Westmont College
Covington approaches the complexity and transcendence of aesthetics and the arts theway only a sensitive creator can. His love for art, imagination, and creation, combinedwith his excitement about God's intention for these things, lends a unique and vibrantshimmer to his words and thoughts on the subject. Daniel Goans, singer-songwriter; member of Lowland Hum
Covington's love for God and music fires his conviction that truth and beauty, mindand passion, belong together. His keen eye for the brokenness of all things in andaround us fires his conviction that the healthy reintegration of these gifts depends on God's healing power, mediated to us by his Word and gospel. Join him in his searchingexploration. Charles D. Drew, singer; author; founding pastor, Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Manhattan
Covington joins generations of creative minds in engaging not only with culture butwith the beauty of God's truth through the eyes of an aesthetic practitioner. A deeplycaring and good read. I recommend it wholeheartedly for artist and hearer alike. Jerry Eisley, founder and director, Washington Arts Group; founder and director, Eisley Fine Art
Covington asks the questions worth asking about how beauty, ugliness, pleasure, passion,and meaning all filter into our everyday lives, and what the Bible has to say about it.I appreciate his gentle tone, his vivid prose, his grasp on theory without letting it get tooabstract. But what stands out to me is his God-centeredand biblical approach. This isa book worth reading and reflecting on. Dr. Ted Turneau, Global Scholars Teaching Fellow, Anglo-American University, Prague
Written with both intellectual integrity and artistic sensitivity, which is hard to find.Covington has given us a wonderful and needed contribution to the discussion onbeauty, art, and faith. He cares deeply about both art and theology, and leads us toreexamine how our desires and passions in life and art can lead us back to God. Rev. Joel Pelsue, president, Arts and Entertainment Ministries
Art that reveres the divine is more than shuffling around labels of adoration. Callingfor a sincere and authentic expression of love, this book is a heartfelt reminder to seekout the redemptive quality in everything we do. Noel Paul Stookey, member of Peter, Paul, and Mary
If you are an artist, or know one, or have ever wondered how to appreciate or evaluate orunderstand the purpose of art in any form as a follower of Christ, you need to read thisbook. This is the fraternal twin of Coram Deo. Liberating, refreshing, and worshipful! Elizabeth Groves, lecturer in biblical Hebrew, Westminster Theological Seminary
Covington is a musician, a husband, and a true lover of Scripture. The decades he hasspent integrating those callings makes this book a masterpiece. He equips those of uswho want to take to heart God's aesthetic preferences, even as we read the more jarringpassages of the Old Testament and our lives. Anna Shea, guest lecturer on the intersection between science, theology, and poetry, Pepperdine University