“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). This verse conveys a powerful image of God as the source and referent of all beauty. This book demonstrates how the experience of beauty is related to our inherent longing for the God who is reflected in such moments. Richly informed by Junius Johnson’s expertise on Bonaventure and von Balthasar, the book offers a robust, full-orbed theology of beauty, showing how it has functioned as a theological concept from biblical times to the present day.
In theological aesthetics the lineaments of Thomistic thought have long been most formative, but now, in this rich, closely argued and admirably synthetic work of theological aesthetics, Junius Johnson has contributed a powerful adequation of St. Bonaventure’s conception of beauty—both as gift from the Father of Lights and as illumination leading back to him. Beauty rightly perceived—that is, in a necessarily subjective appropriation of objective reality—enables a fuller understanding of God, in Bonaventure’s term a contuition. We are simultaneously dazzled both by beauty in the world and by beauty’s Giver. Johnson’s thoughtful book, conversing as it does with the likes of Von Balthasar, Boudrillard, Barthes, and Ospensky, is brimming with insight, a remarkably fruitful excursus in philosophical theology in which many will find worthy treasures.
—David Lyle Jeffrey, FRSC, distinguished senior fellow, Baylor Institute for Studies in Religion; emeritus distinguished professor of literature and the humanities, Baylor University
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