In this important addition to the growing list of titles grappling with the subject, Sherry gives equal weight to theology and art, the metaphor of salvation as drama providing the fulcrum. Past, present and future aspects of the story of salvation organize his investigation, which is punctuated by the conviction that dogmatic truths must continually be incarnated in forms intelligible to people for whom traditional expressions have become incomprehensible or only intuitively grasped. Sherry is aware of the multiple meanings attached to the Christian doctrine of redemption, and he responds with a correspondingly large number of examples from art, literature and music -- the icon of the Resurrection or harrowing of hell from the Orthodox monastery of Chora, the monumental novels of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bernanos, Mauriac and Greene, the compositions of Bach, Handel, and Tavener. Edward Yarnold, cited by Sherry, aptly capsulizes the ways art and theology reciprocally unveil the types of revelation specific to each: ''The artist and the theologian need each other. The artist needs the theologian to check the exuberance of his vision and to rescue it from isolation and subjectivity by linking it with the consciousness of the Church. The theologian needs the artist to enrich his thinking and rescue it from aridity and irrelevance by linking it with the aspirations of humanity.''
An Eighth Day View:
After discussing the "arts of redemption" and their rivals, and introducing soteriology, the theology of salvation, Patrick Sherry argues that the Christian "Drama of Redemption" has three Acts. The next five chapters discuss the three Acts, namely salvation history, our present human life, and the life to come. In each case, Sherry explains how art and literature can lead to an understanding of what is at stake here. His main concern is with the present life: hence three of those chapters deal with that phase of redemption, one of them specifically with "novels of redemption." The last substantial chapter of the book takes up the general issue of how art and literature contribute to religious understanding: Sherry argues that they may be primary expressions of religious belief, as well as "illustrations," and that as such they may criticise or complement theology, or in turn be open to criticism themselves from that quarter. Finally, he summarises the main theme and briefly discusses some of the particular problems of assessing the arts of redemption.The book's most distinctive feature is the way in which it uses art and literature as a means of religious and theological understanding. It is not a survey of the arts of redemption, though it uses a wide variety of examples, including ancient Greek drama, Flemish and Italian painting, religious music, and 19th -20th century novels. These examples are used as a tool for understanding what is one of the most difficult areas of theology.>