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Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music Paperback – 1 Jan 2008

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'A profound, rigorous, and original work. Very few new books in theology or religious studies show this level of freshness and imagination. I hope it will be a landmark essay in this crucial field of reflection on theology and the creative arts., - Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

'. . . this book sparkles with so many tuneful insights, flashes with so much wit and anecdote, and resonates with such an exuberant joie de vivre that we are led inexorably forward by the surge of exposition, deeper and deeper into the rich harmony of life and faith. Jeremy Begbie is musician/theologian par excellence. Who else would bring together Bach and Boethius, McCartney and MacMillan, John Coltrane and John Zizioulas? Whatever music you enjoy and wherever you are on the journey of faith and understanding, Jeremy Begbie will delight, surprise, challenge, and inspire you. A wonderful book by a wonderful writer, thinker, and musician.' - N. T. Wright, Bishop of Durham --N. T. Wright, Bishop of Durham

About the Author

Jeremy Begbie (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is honorary professor of theology at the University of St. Andrews; associate principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge; and an affiliated lecturer in the faculty of divinity at the University of Cambridge. A professionally trained musician, he has taught widely in the UK, US, and South Africa. He is the author of Voicing Creation's Praise: Towards a theology of the arts and Theology, Music, and Time and the editor of Beholding the Glory: Incarnation through the arts and Sounding the Depths: Theology through the arts.

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Profound insights into music by Jeremy Begbie 26 Dec 2008
By Robin Vogsland - Published on
Format: Paperback
RESOUNDING TRUTH: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (Engaging Culture) (Paperback) by Jeremy S. Begbie

Jeremy Begbie is professor of Theology at Cambridge University. Most of his work deals with cross-pollination between Christian theology and the arts. There is currently a Youtube link with a fine presentation by Begbie called "THE SENSE OF AN ENDING: The Musical Self" from University of California TV back in the 90s. [...]
After seeing that video (which you can buy online and I recommend), I wanted to read his writing and finally found this reasonably priced volume aimed at a non-academic audience. It is a kind of introductory course on how Christians have sought to understand what music really is and to discover both the source of, and proper uses of, the powers of music to enhance life and deepen faith. He starts with a historical review of thought on the subject including classical views and includes a nice section on Luther's views on music--as well as of Calvin, Zwingli, and other influential Christian thinkers. He includes the work of several "modern" composers with a spiritual bent. (E.g. He discusses how these have found ways to represent timelessness as well as temporality in their works.) He discusses the tensions between composer and performer. He discusses the ambivalence of many Christians regarding the fleshly and the spiritual powers of music. He overviews everything that the Bible says about musical instruments.

In the main part of the book he presents his own work and thoughts on the subject, covering but amplifying what is in the Youtube video. It is very thought provoking, profound, and wonderful--a rich and pretty much non-technical presentation. I imagine a musician would get more out of it than me, but he lets the reader share in a musician's insights. As a confessional Lutheran, I am irritated to see the word "Theology" taken to mean merely "thinking about God" (beyond what can be derived from the Scriptures), but at the same time, I believe that thinking about God in all aspects of life, including music, and seeking all kinds of sound wisdom is a worthwhile activity, as long as it supplements and serves rather than replaces in our life the bigger foundational messages of the Scriptures. In Begbie, you get a beautiful and compelling picture of how a Christian's life work is enriched by integrating it with his faith. He is a world-class scholar, a fine Christian and a gifted teacher. He is NOT a modernist or post-modernist in his views, but appears to be Biblically sound, committed to following the teachings of Scripture rather than deconstructing them.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Intersting and Insightful 30 Dec 2008
By groovapotimus - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Begbie draws on numerous disciplines such as music theory, music history, philosophy and Christian theology to explore music and Christianity. He also connects with modern culture and how music is approached in both sacred and secular contexts. Among the most interesting points were his discussion of time and creation and how they relate to our view of music. It's a very well written book, and was more interesting and easier to read than most academic books. Because of the depth of theological discussions this book would probably even be of interest to people who are interested in Christian theology even if music is not a primary interest.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Ado - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have finished reading Resounding Truth and, to put it bluntly, find myself liberated from the claws of dualism. Certainly I've (unconsciously) inherited loads of Augustine, Calvin, Zwingli, and the like in my Christian upbringing. After reading Voicing Creation's Praise a couple of years ago (and specially now) I can very clearly see how much of my worldview has been pervasively poisoned by Neoplatonism--because of which, as I look back, a lot of life has been sucked away from me. Thankfully, however, these books have helped me to reevaluate unhealthy presuppositions--and, in doing so, simultaneously keeping me from falling into Schleiermacher's opposite alternative. Gladly, I now find myself invited to part company with Luther, Bach, Barth, Bonhoeffer, and many others who acknowledge the good, God-given wonders of sound. What a gift, truly. Thank you, Jeremy, for your clarity of thought, for the grace with which every page is filled, for your insightful and imaginative wisdom, for your discomfort with easy answers. I cannot emphasize how much this material has (already) opened up a world of possibilities of knowing God through music: it will take a lifetime to unpack.
Excellent theology of music 17 Nov 2014
By Jonathan L. Clemens - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent work, just the sort of "theology of music" text I've been looking for. Of course not exhaustive (how could a book on such a subject be?) but rich, sympathetic and highly thought-provoking. A draught of cool water to a lifelong music fanatic, particularly classical and sacred choral.
Indispensable 7 Dec 2010
By Rev. Dr. Joanne Swenson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Covers the history of the philosophical conversation about music's meaning and truth, significant theologians' regard and use of music, and the musical strategies of various composers to convey theological ideas.
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