Theories of religion
What does visual art show us (or not show us) about human religiosity?
Let me start by briefly explaining why Miles says that the study of art is so important. She notes, quite obviously, that until recent history the mass population has been mostly illiterate. So, in order to study the way in which they looked and expressed there religiosity one must look at the format in which the general population expressed it, i.e. art. The problem that Miles addresses is that even though the addition of art into the study of religion is important, it may result it problems for professional historians. It is a problem because all historians must now be equipped to study visual as well as verbal text.
Both historical theologians and art historians have been interested in the meaning of religious images. Even still, neither of their research can give information about the significance felt by the people who worship in a cathedral. These sources don’t distinguish between the message given and the message received, it is possible that the architect’s message was possibly different from the message that the congregation felt.
Visual text will help to illuminate women in history as well. The majority of women in history where never written or read about by historians. However the presents and significance of women in medieval art cannot be disputed. In visual text alone we see from the earliest Christian images that women are constantly depicted, expressing themes and subjects based on female experiences. A look at the historical art of a religion can greatly illuminate things that where never written about, and perhaps had the greatest effect on the majority of people at a period in history, the illiterate.
The function of art is to show a broad area of similarities and feelings and to give objective form and feeling. “Religion needs art to orient individuals and communities, to the reality...