The Interplay of Christianity, Arts, and Culture
From the beginning, Christians found themselves both immersed in a culture and in tension with it. They commonly employed elements of the ancient pagan world in which they found themselves in order to communicate effectively. They adopted and then adapted that language of symbols, forms, and practices to give a new—specifically Christian—meaning and function to the objects, images, buildings, and rituals they created. But Christianity and culture are so intertwined in practice that distinguishing between the unchanging doctrines of the Christian faith and the shifting forms and practices of culture can be difficult. This course will explore the complex relationship between Christianity and culture and the critical function of works of art as “bearers of meaning.” It will focus on the challenges of contextualization, using case studies from Asia, Africa, and North America to investigate the critical interplay of the arts, Christianity, and cultural context.