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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012



Painting, Theology and The juxtaposition of theology (literally, talk about God) and painting can be seen as a kind of mistake, since painting, by its very mode of expression, was rarely if ever intended to carry a specifically theological (i.e., propositional) message. Depiction of various kinds has roots in the prehistoric era and may be evidence of humankind's yearning for expression, creativity, and appreciation of beauty. Depiction is found in the catacombs at the beginning of Christianity, and it may be accepted that from the beginning Christians valued the concretization and illustration that forms of depiction offered.

Christianity is a faith which pays close attention to words and acknowledges Jesus Christ as the Word of God incarnate. Although this is to confess word become person (and, more specifically, a person in whom was revealed grace and truth), elements of Christianity have always struggled with an acknowledgement that human language cannot encompass God, and, correspondingly, with the question of how mystery, which makes space for the ineffable, may be preserved in human forms of expression. The apostle Paul regularly made use of paradox as a mode of indicating the utterly unanticipated path of God's salvation. How may paradox and ambiguity, over the centuries, when expressed verbally, not suffer a flattening? Or, given that Christianity is both didactic and prophetic of its nature, how may that didactic note avoid forms of closure which tend in a literalist direction?

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