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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The Art of Faith: A Guide to Understanding Christian Images

book coverWith The Art of Faith, Judith Couchman, an art history teacher, has come up with a creative and engaging way to appreciate Christian art. Her primary mission is to share the meanings of symbols in paintings, but there is also a secondary agenda: "to enhance faith, heighten worship, and perhaps cultivate a few armchair art historians." She points out that Christian art didn't begin with great fanfare but developed slowly. With skill and enthusiasm, she hunts down the meanings in art depicting the miracles of Jesus, the cross, angels, saints, flowers, trees, animals, colors, objects and the church year.

Here are a few of her observations: The violet that grows close to the ground has been seen as a symbol of humility in many paintings. Early believers saw in the strawberry an emblem of the Virgin Mary. Throughout sacred art eras, the heart was seen as the resting place of love, joy, courage and sorrow.


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