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Theology in Stone: Church Architecture from Byzantium to Berkeley [Paperback]

Richard Kieckhefer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 July 2008
Thinking about church architecture has come to an impasse. Reformers and traditionalists are talking past each other. In Theology in Stone, Richard Kieckhefer seeks to help both sides move beyond the standoff toward a fruitful conversation about houses of worship. Drawing on a wide range of historical examples with an eye to their contemporary relevance, he offers refreshing new ideas about the meanings and uses of church architecture.

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Theology in Stone: Church Architecture from Byzantium to Berkeley + Liturgical Space: Christian Worship and Church Buildings in Western Europe 1500-2000 (Liturgy, Worship & Society Series) + Sacred Power, Sacred Space: An Introduction to Christian Architecture and Worship
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Product details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (1 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195340566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195340563
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 741,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A fascinating, richly detailed, and readable account of church architecture. An elegantly written, learned and stimulating book." --Spiritus"A brilliant contribution to the growing literature on church architecture....an insightful study that draws on a wide range of visual evidence from many layers--liturgical, architectural, historical, aesthetic--and from throughout the Christian world, suggesting that historians as well as laypeople could greatly benefit from a theological vision of church architecture that understands its own history but is still relevant for today's needs: looking backwards and forwards for new forms of sacred experience."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion, .."a brilliant contribution to the growing literature on church architecture.... Theology in Stone contributes to the field of religious architecture studies through emphasizing the importance of historical reflection and meditation on the purposes of church architecture as sacred spaces."--Journalof the American Academy of Religion"Richard Kieckhefer has given us a remarkable book on church architecture--rich in history but also aware of contemporary debates, and thoroughly engaging in its dialogue with theology, liturgy, and aesthetics. I cannot think of a more timely study of the topic, nor one in which strong claims areexpressed in such a non-dogmatic and truly edifying fashion." --Frank Burch Brown, Frederick Doyle Kershner Professor of Religion and the Arts, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis"An informed and well-written volume that stands above most other current work in the field....Essential."--Choice"Far too many books dealing with church buildings are content either to remain historical, or indulge in architectural details to a point of tedium. Richard Kieckhefer presents a paradigm of how to read a church, both liturgically and theologically. Not overburdened with technical jargon, this studyrepresents an important contribution to a theology of sacred space."--Bryan D. Spinks, Professor of Liturgical Studies, Yale University Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music"Masterfully interweaving history, theology, and aesthetics in his examination of well-chosen case studies, Kieckhefer transforms our understanding of church architecture by showing how, in practice, churches have been used and experienced by Christian worshipers through the centuries and in thepresent day."--Arthur Holder, Dean, Graduate Theological Union

About the Author

kieckhefer@northwestern.edu

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ex cathedra 19 Sep 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover
Perhaps it is because I come from the same background (Western Anglo-Catholic) as the approach from which Richard Kieckhefer comes in this text that I find such a resonance with what he has to say. 'Theology in Stone' looks at various aspects of church design, from the long tradition of church building in Christianity up to the present time. His text begins with four principle factors in basic church design, and then looks in some detail at three particular styles.
The four factors highlighted are not typical architectural concerns, but rather wrapped up in spiritual, theological, and aesthetic values. How does the space work? What is the central and centering focus? Is there an aesthetic impact compatible with the intention of the church? How do symbols function and resonate? There are no universal answers to these types of questions. As Kieckhefer states, 'Response to a church [is] conditioned by culture and by cultural interaction.' Response is also related to expectations, usefulness, the people populating the church, and a number of other concerns. However, perhaps most importantly, response to a church is a learned process that generally 'requires informed reflection. The meanings of a church are seldom obvious.'
With regard to spatial dynamics and centering focus, Kieckhefer states, the purpose of the building is expressed. The symbolic resonance goes to the meaning of the church, and the aesthetic impact relates to the form. Kieckhefer takes classic church architecture ideas and applies them not to the task of planning and building a church as much as to understanding how the buildings function and have meaning for those who use them now. Kieckhefer also differentiates between the issue of what a church has meant and what a church can mean.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ex cathedra 18 Sep 2005
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Perhaps it is because I come from the same background (Western Anglo-Catholic) as the approach from which Richard Kieckhefer comes in this text that I find such a resonance with what he has to say. 'Theology in Stone' looks at various aspects of church design, from the long tradition of church building in Christianity up to the present time. His text begins with four principle factors in basic church design, and then looks in some detail at three particular styles.

The four factors highlighted are not typical architectural concerns, but rather wrapped up in spiritual, theological, and aesthetic values. How does the space work? What is the central and centering focus? Is there an aesthetic impact compatible with the intention of the church? How do symbols function and resonate? There are no universal answers to these types of questions. As Kieckhefer states, 'Response to a church [is] conditioned by culture and by cultural interaction.' Response is also related to expectations, usefulness, the people populating the church, and a number of other concerns. However, perhaps most importantly, response to a church is a learned process that generally 'requires informed reflection. The meanings of a church are seldom obvious.'

With regard to spatial dynamics and centering focus, Kieckhefer states, the purpose of the building is expressed. The symbolic resonance goes to the meaning of the church, and the aesthetic impact relates to the form. Kieckhefer takes classic church architecture ideas and applies them not to the task of planning and building a church as much as to understanding how the buildings function and have meaning for those who use them now. Kieckhefer also differentiates between the issue of what a church has meant and what a church can mean.

The churches Kieckhefer highlights include Beverly Minster, a church in the then second city of York (York, of course, being the second city, ecclesiastically speaking, of England, after Canterbury). The examination of this church, along with others, takes into account the surrounding community, the geography of the church's placement, and the population that peoples the church. 'The meaning of church architecture can never be read in abstraction from local ethos,' Kieckhefer states. This is also true of Chicago, where there is about as diverse a collection of churches as anywhere else on the planet. Still, there are discernable patterns here, according to Kieckhefer. 'There were three basic approaches to liturgical space in these churches: the design of Roman Catholic churches was appropriate mainly for intercession, that of Protestant churches for proclamation, and that of Eastern Orthodox churches for meditation.' Kieckhefer examines here the churches of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, 'a time just before the rise of architectural modernism and liturgical reform.' Kieckhefer's third area of discussion focuses upon the work of Rudolf Schwarz, whose strong, simple designs rely on reinterpretations of classic architectural ideas and embraces liturgical principles both ancient and modern.

Kieckhefer concludes the book with a dicussion of modern issues, doing significant theological reflection, including the tension between modern and traditional designs (both from intention and actual application), movements toward increased congregational participation, and other pulls between orthodoxy and dogmatism (which Kieckhefer describes as being opposites for his purposes here). He sees great resilience in the past, which can give new life and freedom to modern designs.

Kieckhefer writes well, and his arguments are interesting to follow. They tend toward the sacramental side, but has a healthy respect for different views in his presentation. His endnotes are helpful and worthwhile, but a bibliography (even as a simple list) would be helpful. There is a good index, and a number of black-and-white photographs (most done by Kieckhefer himself).

This is a text that will be of interest beyond the architectural crowd, but to any who seek to understand the way in which church architecture has meaning and can mean for the community.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stone by Stone 22 Aug 2005
By D. McConeghy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Kieckhefer has done an admirable job trying to create a convincing scholarly narrative for the evolution of church architecture. This work adds to the growing body of texts on religious architecture and stands as an important contribution to the field. My reservations about the book come from its lackluster choice of "illustrative" examples. Kieckhefer has a wealth of examples to choose from and rather than picking the rule picks the exception. This demonstrates the valuable spirit of experimentation and development the field has come to expect of architects, but only scratches the surface of the wealth of architectural patterns that are evident today.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informativ and presise 15 July 2013
By Ann-Kristin Olsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book give you a good look in church architecture and is written in a good way and easy to understand.
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