Balm in Gilead
A Theological Dialogue with Marilynne Robinson
by Timothy Larsen and Keith L. Johnson (Editors)
Pub Date 02 Apr 2019
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"Marilynne Robinson's work is saturated in theology—not only in that it is pervaded by engagement with Christian belief in general but in that it is shaped by years of deep engagement with the texts of the Protestant (especially Calvinist) tradition. We have waited a long time for a collection like this. It is certain to be a rich source of interest and delight."
-Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Distinguished Professor of Theology, Duke University
"Marilynne Robinson is perhaps the most vital of living American novelists. This collection contains essay after thoughtful essay exploring various facets of her complex and beautiful body of work. After reading them you feel that you have watched the assembling of a delightful portrait of this most theologically resonant of our writers."
-Alan Jacobs, distinguished professor of humanities, honors program, Baylor University
"The religious themes and insights in Marilynne Robinson's novels and essays—especially her striking fondness for Calvin—have won her a devoted Christian following. Until now, however, there has been little explicit engagement with her work by theologians. In this volume, an impressive range of thinkers opens up a conversation with the novelist about the Christian life, the Reformed tradition, and the American experience."
-David Heim, executive editor, Christian Century
"If the test of a good story is the kind of person it shapes, then we can only hope that Marilynne Robinson continues to write her stories. Reading her stories makes one want to be more truly alive. They also, as it happens, make one curious to read her nonfiction. In reading both novels and essays, we are introduced to a theologically dynamic vision of the world. This marvelous collection of essays is a welcomed engagement by theologians with an author who demands careful—and repeated!—reading."
-W. David O. Taylor, assistant professor of theology and culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
"Doing theology and reading fiction figure among my best-loved pastimes. Reading theology about fiction ranks almost as high. Yet Balm in Gilead is something better: an interdisciplinary conversation about the theological presuppositions and implications of one of America's most important living novelists. Entertaining does not come close to doing justice to Marilynne Robinson's Gilead series, though they are that. Robinson raises profound questions about the shape of Christian ministry and community and, in so doing, exposes and seeks to transform America's secular social imaginary. In similar fashion, Balm in Gilead raises profound questions about Robinson's work and theology, putting her in conversation with theologians past (Augustine, John Calvin) and present (Rowan Williams)."
-Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"This collection of thoughtful and erudite essays is a welcome addition to the growing interest in (and admiration of) one of the church's—and culture's—preeminent voices of the last thirty years. For readers who are familiar with Robinson's writing, this collection will provide much-welcomed insight into the theological depth of her essays and novels. For those unfamiliar with her work, this volume provides a lively and accessible theological introduction to one of the major creative thinkers of our time. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the conversations and currents happening at the deepest levels between the church and culture today."
-Michael Bruner, author of A Subversive Gospel: Flannery O'Connor and the Reimagining of Beauty, Goodness, and Truth