Chapter 29 Comparative Theology, Calligraphy and Iconography

In: A Companion to Comparative Theology
Author:
Lucinda Allen Mosher
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Abstract

Sacred scribing is a devotional act – a discipline of ambassadorship for the text. Regarding the Christian icon-writing tradition characteristic of (but not limited to) the Orthodox branch, an almost identical claim can be made. Sacred calligraphy and sacred iconography alike are both informed by and have the capacity to convey theology. This chapter offers some thoughts on the interrelation between these media and its implications for comparative theology. In doing so, it follows James Wm. McClendon Jr. in defining theology in a manner that meshes well with notions of narrative theology and with comparative theology as defined by Francis X. Clooney. While the calligraphic and iconographic traditions of several religions are engaged, most attention is given to Islamic calligraphy in functional comparison to Christian iconography. This essay also considers the provision of a compelling construction zone for comparative theology through a calligraphy exhibition that involved production, not simply of works representative of each scribe’s religious tradition, but also interreligious works created collaboratively. Suggestions for further comparative theological exploration of calligraphy and iconography are provided.

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