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While the average person rarely sees it, the visual arts play a subtle yet profound role in the teaching and formation of faith, both for individuals and religious communities. "The Substance of Things Seen explores the intersection of art and faith, offering thoughtful reflections on the way art functions in Christian life and practice.

Highly readable and featuring instructive illustrations, this book is meant to engage church leaders as well as artists in constructive conversation about the critical role that art can play in the renewal of Christian education, worship, and study. It also challenges anyone who thinks the arts are only of marginal importance to the religious life. Robin Jensen considers here a broad range of topics relevant to Christian faith and culture, including the construction of sacred space, the use of art in worship and spiritual formation, the way that visual art interprets sacred texts, and the power and danger of art from a historical and contemporary perspective.

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About the Author

Robin M. Jensen is Patrick O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She is also the author of Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity: Ritual, Visual, and Theological Dimensions and The Substance of Things Seen: Art, Faith, and the Christian Community.


Touchstone -No one has done a better job of explaining the first three centuries of Christian images within their cultural context: the persecutions, the doctrinal disputes, and the great intellectual ferment.-Reformed Worship -Any church group or arts committee discussing visual arts and their role in the faith life of the church would benefit from this practical and insightful book.-Wilson Yates -Robin Jensen is one of the architects and major scholars in the field of theology and the arts. The Substance of Things Seen: Art, Faith, and the Christian Community makes an indelible contribution to those in this field and to general readers interested in understanding how art engages our spirituality as persons of faith and how the church depends on the arts in its worship, architecture, and spiritual formation. Written in a beautiful and lively style, this well- crafted work of scholarship flows from the pen of one who writes with passion and insight in order that we all might know more profoundly how art invites us to encounter the Holy.-Jeremy Begbie -In this gentle and very readable book Robin Jensen shows clearly why the arts cannot be ignored by the Christian community. The Substance of Things Seen should do much to advance what is already a fast-growing conversation between faith and art.-William A. Dyrness -Robin Jensen's book makes a wonderful contribution to the thoughtful conversation about art in the church. Though historically and theologically informed, the book is accessible to a wide range of audiences, and it will be useful for church study groups and college and seminary classrooms. Jensen addresses some of the most critical -- and controversial -- issues with wisdom and insight.-Bruce C. Birch -Robin Jensen has spent a good part of her personal and professional life moving comfortably and knowledgeably between the arts and theology, between the academy and the church. This volume distills the wisdom she has gained in her journey into a collection of essays that illumine the central role of the arts in the life of faith. The result is a book that is uncommonly readable, filled with provocative insights, and utterly convincing in the case it makes for the indispensable role of art in Christian theology, worship, and practice. Jensen's discussions are historically informed, theologically wise, artistically insightful, and extremely practical. No one interested in the arts and theology should be without this book.-

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