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Anthony C. Thiselton – The Power of Pictures in Christian Thought: The use and abuse of images in the Bible and Theology

SPCK 272 pages £30 ISBN 978 0 281 07886 8

Thirty quid for a paperback book! Actually, this carefully researched and elegantly written book is worth every penny. Thiselton tackles a subject of great importance for readers and communicators of Scripture.

In four introductory chapters Thiselton deals with the theory behind the use and abuse of images in Christian thinking. The author brilliantly summarises 2000 years of thinking about the subject.

Thiselton concludes that the use of word pictures in Scripture provides useful windows of insight and understanding. He also however, issues a warning about the misuse of such pictures; such use can distort the meaning embedded in the picture. It is a helpful reminder that we need to be careful about how we use words and word pictures.

In five chapters Thiselton provides a sparking array of examples form Old and New Testaments; the highlight here is the chapter on the Book of Revelation, a book that has “more pictures and images than descriptive words.”

The book concludes with a useful chapter on communication, that seeks to learn from the missteps of allegorists, Gnostics, mystics and charismatics. If you are engaged in any form of Christian communication, this is an invaluable book to read carefully.

John Woods is pastor of Lancing Tabernacle in West Sussex

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