cover image The Melody of Faith: Theology in an Orthodox Key

The Melody of Faith: Theology in an Orthodox Key

Vigen Guroian, . . Eerdmans, $14 (158pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-6496-3

Guroian (Incarnate Love: Essays in Orthodox Ethics) , professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, sets out with a bold mission—to write a series of theological “tonal poems,” each reading more like music than prose. This, he asserts, will not produce a “rational” or “linear” organization, but rather create an aesthetic reading experience in which literary themes will develop into melodic variations and fugues. Hymnody, he asserts, existed before any Christian art and architecture because it integrated the feeling of doctrine along with the thought of theology, creating a richer spiritual understanding. Consequently, the book divides itself into six hymnlike chapters that “sing” the Orthodox theologies of creation, the apocalypse, redemption, the Virgin Mary, the crucifixion, and resurrection. To a large extent, the execution of the book’s mission is successful, particularly the author’s method of separating each chapter into verse-like subsections. Yet the reader may feel lost at times in the complexity of the author’s intent. To fully appreciate the musical style of the prose, one may at times be required to pay less attention to the beauty of the very theologies Guroian wishes to convey. (Feb.)