Brief Book Review: Saving Images

Saving Images: The Presence of the Bible in Christian Liturgy
by Gordon W. Lathrop

What’s the main point? That the use of images is one of the main ways that the Bible relates to the worshipping assembly (19). The purpose of Christian liturgy is to set out images that draw us into salvation – as well as to rescue them from misuse (24)

Who’s it for? All well-educated Christians who want to enrich their understanding of how the Bible and the liturgy relate to one another and who want to see how images help this to happen.

Why should you read this? This is a very good summary of Lathrop’s project of arguing that the gospels are always presenting us with images that call for the reform of our assemblies. Lathrop always stirs the imagination. Uses a good number of pieces of art like Cranach’s altarpiece in the city church at Wittenberg. The book is provocative and lyrical. Sometimes he gets carried away with interpretation – but that’s part of his imaginative style which reinforces his argument.

I like to give his work to students because it encourages them to think outside the box.

Lathrop, Gordon W. Saving Images: The Presence of the Bible in Christian Liturgy. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2017. 224 pages.

REVIEWER: John F. Baldovin, S.J., Ph.D.

John F. Baldovin, S.J., Ph.D., is Professor of Liturgy at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and a priest of the Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus. His teaching and research focus on the history and theology of liturgy; sacramental theology; and the history of Christian doctrine.

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