A review of In The Beginning is the Icon: a Liberative Theology of Images, Visual Arts and Culture by Sigurd Bergmann, translated by Anja K. Angelsen (London: Equinox, 2009). [originally published in Swedish in 2003]
In his foreward, Nicholas Wolterstorff declares that Bergmann’s book “is a breakthrough in theological aesthetics.” This is a remarkable endorsement from a scholar who has contributed so much to the contemporary landscape of theological aesthetics. It seems to me that Wolterstorff’s assessment is, on the whole, accurate. Bergmann does actually bring a great deal of originality to the conversation between theology and the arts, and he also widens the scope of the conversation considerably by drawing on voices from philosophy and anthropology rarely heard in a work like this. Furthermore, Bergmann draws our attention to interesting works of art that would not be considered as part of the normal “canon” of high western art.