I had a succession of wonderful Sunday School teachers growing up, but there was one I never had, and I was secretly jealous of my younger brother, who did: His name was Marvin Jarboe, and he was (and still is) a professional artist and stained glass window maker. Most Sunday School classes listened to the story of Noah's ark. Marvin's class made Noah's ark—a large, elaborate replica built out of toothpicks, with handmade ceramic animals. Such artistic sophistication was the deep envy of someone whose earliest, cherished church-related memory was pasting cotton balls on pictures of sheep. Oh, how I wanted to be in Marvin's class.

You can imagine, therefore, how much I have loved editing this issue of Christian History & Biography. I have spent three months surrounded by photographs of the some of the world's most magnificent masterpieces of religious art. The hardest decisions facing our team have been how to narrow down the vast array of possible images to what will fit into the magazine, and whether to picture the intense, almost iconic gaze of Michelangelo's David or the dynamic colors of the Sistine Chapel ceiling on the cover. Rough life.

In addition to the theme section's focus on Michelangelo and the Italian Renaissance, art has found its way into every one of our departments in this issue, from David Morgan's story behind the most beloved modern painting of Jesus, to the late church historian Jaroslav Pelikan's love of pelican iconography, to St. Antony's fight with the demons in medieval painting. This is not entirely a matter of editorial selection. Quietly, vibrantly, without words, with subtle power, the visual tradition of the church has exerted a profound and widespread influence on Christian belief and practice. ...

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