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Into His marvellous light

Orr, Donald M. (2008) Into His marvellous light. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Light allows revelation while concealing its source; it allows articulation while it is non-articulate. It is light that allows us to stand on the edge, that border between knowing and unknowing. It was the first great kenotic act, deconstructing darkness and it is this sublime aspect of light that takes us beyond the limits of our own imaginations, and in that process raises us to unexpected insight and perception. This thesis is a discourse on the sublimity of light that has provided a catalyst for fresh reflection beyond that which is actually presented whereby the sublime can be understood as an experience rather than merely an object of sense of perception. While light and darkness can stand symbolically for many realities theologically light became a symbol of divine presence and salvation in ancient Judaism where it was seen as God's glory, was revealed in columns of fire and burning bushes, and was envisioned as a sign of the perfection of the kingdom; 'arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you' (Isa. 60:1). Similarly at the start of the Christian era light is associated with the Eucharist and although Paul celebrates in Troas at midnight it is still noted that 'there were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered' (Acts 20:8). The expression of this has gone far beyond the work of theologians and necessitated an interdisciplinary approach to this study linking the work of writers, poets and artists, particularly painters. All art is essentially about representing the unrepresentable. Beyond the mimetic this is more easily recognised and accepted and it is the art of abstraction that has accelerated the drive towards the sublime where "the sublime can be understood as first and foremost the result of a failed attenpt of the imagination to comprehend an absolute of magnitude or power." It is along these lines that Theology and Art can be seen to run parallel. Art has resisted the repeated announcements of its death or demise. This is because Art has always moved within itself and has never completely located itself in any movement or mere style whereas Theology has often become bogged down in a floe of words that formed vast sheets, or melted away. Art has always been greater than historical attempts at impossible depictions of some ethical idea. Art is what is left in the absence of any idea; and it is the presence of absence that remains a central concern of theology. An interdisciplinary approach raises the question of the paradox of artistic articulation towards silence; that the words and images, as they become more articulate, come closer to finality, that they are a prelude to the silence of the sublime. This study is an approach to the articulation of light; the threshold of the sublime.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Jasper, Prof. David
Date of Award: 2008
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:2008-588
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:20
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/588

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