The metaphor of performance has been applied fruitfully by anthropologists and other social theorists to different aspects of human social existence, and furnishes a potentially helpful model in terms of which to think theologically about Christian life.
After an introductory editorial chapter reflecting on the nature of artistic performance and its relationship to the notions of tradition and identity, Part One of this book attends specifically to the phenomenon of dramatic performance and possible theological applications of it. Part Two considers various aspects of the performance of Christian identity, looking at worship, the interpretation of the Bible, Christian response to elements in the contemporary media, the shape of Christian moral life, and ending with a theological reflection on the shape of personal identity, correlating it with the theatrical metaphors of 'character' and 'performing a part' in a scripted drama. Part Three demonstrates how art forms (including some technically non-performative ones - literature, poetry, painting) may constitute faithful Christian practices in which the tradition is authentically 'performed', producing works which break open its meaning in profound new ways for a constantly shifting context.
Contents: Introduction, Trevor A. Hart. Part 1 Theology, Faith and Theatre: Real enactments: the role of drama in the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Ben Quash; A cautionary note on the use of theatre in theology, Ivan Patricio Khovacs; Can an act be true? – The possibilities of the dramatic metaphor for theology within a post-Stanislavskian dramaturgy, Joshua Edelman. Part 2 Discipleship and the Enactment of Christian Identity: Performing faiths – patterns, pluralities and problems in the lives of religious traditions, Michael Partridge; Temples of the Spirit: worship as embodied performance, Steven R. Guthrie; Rhetoric and the literary sense: the sacred author's performance in Cajetan's exegesis of Scripture, Michael O' Connor; Seeing through the drama: reframing violent news, Jolyon Mitchell; Improvisation in the theatre as a model for Christian ethics, Samuel Wells; The sense of an ending: finitude and the authentic performance of life, Trevor A. Hart. Part 3 Artistry as Christian Practice: The arts of redemption, Patrick Sherry; Our truest poetry is our most feigning…poetry, playfulness and truth, Malcolm Guite; Seeing the word: aspects of the visual culture of the Reformation, William Dyrness; Created and uncreated light: the transfiguration in western art, Rosemary Muir Wright; The ascension and transfigured bodies, David Brown. Resonances and challenges: a response to the volume, Jeremy Begbie. Index.
About the Editor: Trevor A. Hart is Professor of Divinity and Principal of St Mary's College, University of St Andrews, UK. He is Director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts. Steven R. Guthrie is Lecturer in Theology at Belmont University, Nashville, USA.
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