The Reformation was one of the defining cultural turning points in Western history, even if there is a longstanding stereotype that Protestants did away with art and material culture. Rather than reject art and aestheticism, Protestants developed their own aesthetic values, which Protestant Aesthetics and the Arts addresses as it identifies and explains the link between theological aesthetics and the arts within a Protestant framework across five-hundred years of history.

Featuring essays from an international gathering of leading experts working across a diverse set of disciplines, Protestant Aesthetics and the Arts is the first study of its kind, containing essays that address Protestantism and the fine arts (visual art, music, literature, and architecture), and historical and contemporary Protestant theological perspectives on the subject of beauty and imagination. Contributors challenge accepted preconceptions relating to the boundaries of theological aesthetics and religiously determined art; disrupt traditional understandings of periodization and disciplinarity; and seek to open rich avenues for new fields of research.

Building on renewed interest in Protestantism in the study of religion and modernity and the return to aesthetics in Christian theological inquiry, this volume will be of significant interest to scholars of Theology, Aesthetics, Art and Architectural History, Literary Criticism, and Religious History.

chapter 1|18 pages


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chapter 2|22 pages

God, language, and the use of the senses

The emergence of a Protestant aesthetic in the early modern period1
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chapter 3|16 pages

Protestant paintings

Artworks by Lucas Cranach and his workshop
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chapter 4|20 pages

Tradition and invention

German Lutheran Church architecture
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chapter 6|14 pages

Antipapal aesthetics and the Gunpowder Plot

Staging Barnabe Barnes’s The Devil’s Charter
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chapter 7|17 pages

Unintended aesthetics?

The artistic afterlives of Protestant iconoclasm
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chapter 9|13 pages

Beauty and the Protestant body

Aesthetic abstraction in Jonathan Edwards
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chapter 10|15 pages

Theology and aesthetics in the early nineteenth century

Kierkegaard’s alternative to Hegel and Romanticism
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chapter 13|17 pages

Jazz religious and secular

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chapter 14|14 pages

“Gorgeousness inheres in anything”

The Protestant origins of John Updike and Marilynne Robinson’s aesthetics of the ordinary
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chapter 15|17 pages

Black Protestantism and the aesthetics of autonomy

A decolonial theological reflection
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