Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 September 2014
This essay presents a psychological approach to understanding the creative functioning of imagination in art and religion. This approach drawn from psychoanalytic object relations theory further illuminates how the classics of art and theology engage the imagination and how distortions of the products of the creative imagination occur. Discussion of a particular innovative theme found in an artwork and related theological reflection in early Christianity exemplifies how both art and theology guide the religious imagination. Finally, various influences on the formation of personal God-imagery are assessed in the light of a case illustration, and the ongoing need for art and theology as tutors to the religious imagination is underscored.
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2 For a clear statement of Freud's position on reality and fantasy, see Freud, Sigmund, “Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning” in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, 12 (London: Hogarth Press, 1958), pp. 220–23.Google Scholar For a discussion of Freud's various uses of the term “fantasy,” see Laplanche, J. and Pontalis, J.-B., The Language of Psycho-Analysis (New York: Norton, 1973), pp. 314–19.Google Scholar
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5 A statement of Jacques Barzun cited in Trilling, p. 45. Theological writing has not made much reference to illusion. Sometimes theologians employ the term in the way Freud used it, namely, to designate wishful thinking used to escape reality. See the call to surrender illusions in Niebuhr's, Reinhold essays, “Peace and the Liberal Illusion” (pp. 83–94)Google Scholar and “An End to Illusions” (pp. 167-76) in his Christianity and Power Politics (New York: Scribner's, 1940).Google Scholar For a recent attempt to approach illusion positively in a philosophical and theological context see Haught, John, “Narrative, Truth and Illusion,” Religious Studies and Theology 5/2 (1985), 68–78.Google Scholar
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20 Ibid., p. 89.
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23 Ibid., p. 169.
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34 Key texts in the Old and New Testaments, of course, provide the foundation for Christian reflection on Christ as the Sun. The prophet Malachi, proclaiming an oracle of the Lord, says: “But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings” (Mal 4:2 RSV). The Fathers of the Church capitalized on this text by identifying Christ as the Sol Iustitiae and not the Sol Invictus.
35 Even the Emperor Constantine's (d. 337) position on sun-worship and its relation to Christianity seems ambivalent, at least initially. See Cullmann, Oscar, The Early Church, abridged ed., ed. Higgins, A. J. B. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966), pp. 31–32.Google Scholar
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40 In Joannis Evangelium, tractatus 34, 2-3, (PL 35, 1652).
41 Sermo 22, SC 22, 84-86.
42 Sermon 27, PNPF, 2nd series, 12 (1891), 140.
43 A study of artistic depictions of the crucifixion especially in the medieval period would also show art operating as a theological pedagogue but in a more sustained and varied manner. See Grillmeier, Aloys, Der Logos am Kreuz (München: Max Hueber, 1956);Google ScholarGrondijs, L. H., “La mort du Christ et le rit du Zéon (réponse a la critique de Grillmeier S.J.),” Autour de l'Iconographie Byzantine du Crucifié Mort sur la Croix (Leiden: Brill, 1960);Google ScholarMartin, John R., “The Dead Christ on the Cross in Byzantine Art” in Weitsmann, Kurt, ed., Late Classical and Medieval Studies in Honor of Albert Mathias Friend, Jr. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1955), 189–96;Google ScholarPocknee, Cyril E., Cross and Crucifix in Christian Worship and Devotion (London: Mowbray, 1962);Google ScholarRahner, Hugo, “Patristisch-ikonographische Probleme der Darstellung des Gekreuzigten,” Scholastik 32 (1957), 410–16;Google Scholar and Thoby, Paul, Le Crucifix des Origènes au Concile de Trente (Nantes: Bellanger, 1959).Google Scholar
44 Rizzuto, Ana-Maria, The Birth of the Living God: A Psychoanalytic Study (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), pp. 149–73.Google Scholar
45 Ibid., p. 172.
46 Ibid., pp. 161-62.
47 Ibid., p. 7.
48 Ibid., p. 226.
49 Ibid., p. 46.
50 See Ann, and Ulanov, Barry, Primary Speech: A Psychology of Prayer (Atlanta: John Knox, 1982), pp. 27–33;Google Scholar and Meissner, p. 182.
51 Rizzuto, p. 172.