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What Readers Have Said

A rich account of the influence of religion on Vincent van Gogh’s life and art . . . that need not be limited to a religious audience.” Kirkus Reviews (read entire review)

“Charles Davidson’s book viewing Vincent van Gogh’s life and work is an excellent contribution to ways we might best understand the artist’s struggle and spirituality. The flow of the narrative and the presence of theological and psychological motifs help us re-vision the artist in a postmodern framework that opens new and creative channels for understanding.Cliff Edwards, author of Van Gogh and God, The Shoes of van Gogh, Mystery of the Night Café, and Van Gogh’s Ghost Paintings

“I was very impressed with the methodology mixing qualitative, psychoanalytic, and hermeneutic approaches. The author’s content analysis of Vincent’s letters took my breath away. His approach to the art brought to mind the segment of Kurosawa’s “Dreams” in which the director tried to get inside Vincent’s paintings using film technology.Susan reviewing on Goodreads

This richly detailed and deeply felt account of Van Gogh’s tormented and self-tormenting life, together with many telling quotations from his correspondence with his faithful brother Theo, will be essential reading for all who see him as one of the geniuses of the 19th century.” Frederick Buechner, author of The Sacred Journey, Now and Then, The Magnificent Defeat, Longing for Home, A Room Called Remember, Godric, Secrets in the Dark, The Yellow Leaves

“Bone Dead, and Rising is a psychologically and theologically incisive analysis of the life and work, the psyche and spirituality of Vincent van Gogh. It is difficult to imagine that the artist himself would have missed the magnitude and worthiness of this verbally artistic rendering.Lallene J. Rector, from the foreword to Bone Dead, and Rising“

Self-Portrait with Pipe by Vincent van Gogh, 1886

“As much a volume of poignant poetry as of delightfully crafted prose . . . consummate and definitive scholarship that reads like a novel. . . . Once you have taken up this volume it is impossible to put the book down. . . . Davidson is sensitive about the fine line that lies between the profound human suffering of a soul in the distress of grief beyond our imagination, deprivation beyond what we are willing to face straight on, loneliness that is inexpressible, alienation and rejection beyond redemption, on the one hand, and toying around the edges of psychosis, on the other. Where is psychic pain so indescribable that coping with it looks like a slide into alternative reality? None of us can know that unless we have been there and done that. In that place of human extremity labels are easy. Authentic descriptive definitions are impossible. Diagnosis is better set aside there. Empathy counts. Davidson has seen that and given us a wonderful book about how to do that. I assure you, you will not wish to miss this volume.J. Harold Ellens in HTS Theological Studies, South Africa (read entire review)

“This work of supreme art unveils Vincent van Gogh’s own great art—in life, work, and death. From beginning to end . . . a rare, simply magnificent portrayal.” Terrence N. Tice, translator of Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Christmas Eve Celebration (read entire review)

“How do we explain the disjointedness between the darkness of a life and the glory of the same man’s art? Davidson argues that the struggles of the van Gogh who felt without God were matched by the strokes of an artist who saw God made visible in a human face, a meal shared, cypress trees and yes, sunflowers. Davidson leaves us with this haunting question: ‘To what extent, if at all, is the divine presence revealed in the bleakest moments of suffering and despair?’ This book becomes personal as we consider where we are with God when we too are lost, ill and abandoned.Debra Bendis in The Christian Century (read entire review)

“I could not put down this probing, challenging, humane and beautiful book until I had completed reading it. Then, as I gently closed it, I said a whispered but audible, ‘Yes! And thanks!’” Carl Walters, author of I, Mark: A Personal Encounter: Explorations in the Earliest Gospel (read entire review

“Those of us who have known opposition to our life-giving energy, through trauma and the broken heart, and yet search for that inner release, can identify with the way Charles Davidson brings Vincent van Gogh vividly alive in this book. John Campbell, author of January Snow and Other Poems

“Charles Davidson’s remarkable volume is a powerful and pastorally sensitive biblical/theological interpretation of Vincent van Gogh’s utterly productive and painful pilgrimage as a passionate artistic genius. Davidson’s exquisite exegesis of Vincent’s voluminous correspondence to his caring brother (who was convinced of his greatness) has rendered his incredible letters accessible to a much broader readership. . . . We, all of us, are indebted to Davidson for helping us to understand Vincent’s radical biblical theology.” Dean K. Thompson, President and Professor of Ministry Emeritus, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (read entire review)

“This book is an extraordinary blend of theology, philosophy, psychiatry and art that held my attention, challenged my mind and fed my soul for four weeks. . . [and] will enrich me spiritually and intellectually for some time to come. Deo gratias.” Lamar Williamson, Jr., author of Mark (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching) and Preaching the Gospel of John (read entire review)

“You don’t have to be a theologian or artist to appreciate this book. I know: I am neither, and I found it to be a masterful, compelling work that kept me turning pages and left me feeling enriched and enlightened. . . Davidson melds scholarship with elegant prose to produce a provocative portrait of the great artist. In an engaging, never-pedantic style, he sheds light on Vincent—the artist, the man, the minister, the brother, the lover. . . I felt inspired.” Carol B. Cole, Actor (read entire review)