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How to Read a Church: A Guide to Symbols and Images in Churches and Cathedrals (Hidden Spring) [Paperback]

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Item description for How to Read a Church: A Guide to Symbols and Images in Churches and Cathedrals (Hidden Spring) by Richard Taylor, Brett L. Walker, C. D. Miller, Maria Do Rosario Grossinho & Giri Deshingka...

Explores the principal features of a church or cathedral and what each represents, such as the significance of church layout, the importance of such details as the use of colors or letters, the identity of people and scenes, and the symbolism of animals and plants. Original.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: HiddenSpring
Pages   246
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.74 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2005
Publisher   HiddenSpring
Series  Hidden Spring  
ISBN  1587680300  
ISBN13  9781587680304  

Availability  0 units.

More About Richard Taylor, Brett L. Walker, C. D. Miller, Maria Do Rosario Grossinho & Giri Deshingka

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Richard Taylor is Professor of Politics at the University of Wales Swansea and general editor of the five-volume BFI edition of Eisenstein Writings, including "The Eisenstein Reader" (1998).

Richard Taylor currently resides in Interlaken, in the state of New York.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Religious
2Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Building Types & Styles > Religious Buildings
3Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > General
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Reference
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about How to Read a Church: A Guide to Symbols and Images in Churches and Cathedrals?

How to read a church  Oct 4, 2008
A very useful book for teaching purposes and giving an understanding of many church items
Reading a church  Feb 8, 2008
Well written and organized. I learned a lot. Potential buyers should know that the focus of this book is on Anglican and Catholic churches. I'd recommend it very highly.
Bought this to prepare for a trip to Italy, hoping to better understand what I was seeing in all those historic churches. This book, however, is centered on churches as places of Christian worship. To quote from the introduction: "Admiring a church for its beauty or history alone is like admiring a Monet for the frame". This is the author's principle theme. As an example, one chapter is devoted to the life of Jesus. In it, he elaborates on 29 different stages of Christ's life that you might see as an image in a church, from the Nativity to The Incredulity of Thomas. Other chapters include The Virgin Mary, Saints, and The Old Testament. The book does provide the needed visual clues to understand what one is seeing, e.g. pictures of St. Lawrence are of a young man with an iron grid and a money bag. However, the piety of the author is the both the book's strength and weakness. Those of the Christian faith may find this a wonderful read. Those of other faiths or none at all may be constantly irritated (as I was) by his writing technique, which treats the Bible as a source of eye-witness history. If you are looking for dispassionate discussion of church imagery, look elsewhere.
Introduction for the churchgoer  Nov 12, 2007
This book would be a useful guide for the American churchgoer who is curious about the signs and symbols he sees around him. In an encyclopedia-like format, Taylor describes the chi-rho, the attributes of the more popular saints, and similar visual messages of Christianity.

It is not in-depth or particularly scholarly. For example, the entry for the columbine (flower, not high school) gives one meaning for that flower's symbolism, but does not go into older meanings that appear in medieval art. OK for most uses, but not as a reference for art history students.

There are also odd mistakes that an editor should have prevented. For example, throughout the book Taylor uses the word "unshaven" to mean "beardless". I don't know about him, but when I don't shave, I am bearded.
Informed, well-written  Jun 7, 2007
This is a well-written, religiously neutral excursion of the visual symbols and elements of the Christian church, more or less as it exists today and leaning somewhat to the Anglican church. It is not a history of Christian church architecture or symbols through the ages though the author seems to be fairly conversant with the relevant art history. It is no more or less than a brief description of what is behind what you'd see in an English church, with accounts of the lives of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Peter and all the rest, in case you know absolutely nothing.

The charming churches the author is most familiar with are relics, and efforts like this one that may in some way preserve them are good. They, the churches of the past, are as much like America's mega-churches as flowers are like asphalt. I don't know if they have mega-churches in Europe. I don't think so. They, the mega-churches, help us envision the utter banality of the age to come. And what a long way we have traveled since Chartres.

The author is studiously non-evangelistic, which is good, but one feels the absence of faith in or hope for anything beyond the obvious. It is really a rather light-hearted anatomy of Christian churches, lacking soul. If there's no hope of meaningfulness, no hope that these places may convey the possibility of a real inner life, it all seems rather hollow.

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