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Monday, August 17, 2009

Book Review: Envisioning the Word

The book Envisioning the Word: The Use of Visual Images in Preaching has been on my to-read pile for a long time now. Since I'm finally done with the M.Div I get to read what I want to read and not what I'm told to read.

Richard Jensen does a good job of helping to see the issues involved in using images in worship. He traces the issue throughout church history and examines the iconoclastic controversies of the Eastern church and the Reformation. He writes like a theologian/historian, which can be good and bad. He is not guilty of leaving out anything from the discussion, but it can be dry at times.

I'm less impressed with the practical part of his book. It consists of barely digested responses to questions posed to preachers using images in their craft. While there is good information there, he samples very few preachers and does very little to interact with their work. The enclosed CD-ROM includes the full text of the book as well as several images.

He tends toward the modern art side of things, which does little to communicate with me, but it might work for some. I would pick up this book for the theological and historical discussion and skim over the rest for the salient points.

4 stars (out of 5)

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