The Power of Pictures: Investigating the Function of Images and Metaphors in Christian Thought
Part One considers key philosophical and aesthetic evaluations of literary images and symbols. The power of pictures is widely appreciated, as in the adage 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. Sometimes Christian discourse can be smothered by endless prose,...
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Part One considers key philosophical and aesthetic evaluations of literary images and symbols. The power of pictures is widely appreciated, as in the adage 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. Sometimes Christian discourse can be smothered by endless prose, which demands much inferential reasoning. There is, however, a contrary argument. An isolated visual representation can be misleading if it is improperly interpreted. For example, some mystical visions are interpreted as direct instructions from the Holy Spirit, as happened with the Radical Reformers, who advocated the Peasants' Revolt. Hence theories of symbol, metaphor, and visual representation must be examined.Part Two discusses visual representation in the Old Testament, the teaching of Jesus, pictures and analogies in Paul, and the Book of Revelation. This shows the range of authentic visual representations. In contrast to biblical material, we find throughout Christian history abundant examples of misleading imagery which is often passed off as Christian. A notorious example is found in the visual representation and metaphors used by Gnostic writers. Almost as bad are some visual representations used by the medieval mystics, Radical Reformers, and extreme charismatics - all of which lack valid criteria of interpretation, relying instead on subjective conviction. Similarly, sermons and prayers today can be enriched with pictorial images, but some can be misleading and unhelpful for the life of the Church.
Anthony C. Thiselton, (Ph.D., Sheffield, D.D (Durham); D.D. (Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth) is Emeritus Professor of Christian Theology at the University of Nottingham, and Canon Theologian of Leicester Cathedral and Southwell Minster. He was formerly Principal of St John's College and Honorary Professor in the University of Durham. He is still an Associate Priest in a Nottingham parish.
His main works include: The Two Horizons: New Testament Hermeneutics and Philosophical Description (Exeter: Paternoster/Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980, Korean, 1990); New Horizons in Hermeneutics: The Theory and Practice of Transforming Biblical Reading (London: HarperCollins/Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1992); Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark/Grand Rapids and Eerdmans, 1995); The Promise of Hermeneutics (Carlisle: Paternoster/Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999, joint author); The First Epistle to the Corinthians (The New Internation Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans/Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2000); A Concise Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Religion (Oxford: Oneworld, 2001); Thiselton on Hermeneutics: Collected Works and New Essays (Aldershot: Ashgate, and Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006); 1 Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) and The Hermeneutics of Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008).