Hans Urs von Balthasar, one of the preeminent theologians of Roman Catholic theology in the modern era, constructed a theological world suffused by the literary, a vision carried across over 16 volumes of his magnum opus. A Generous Symphony offers a balanced appraisal of Balthasar’s literary achievement and explicates Balthasar’s literary criticism as a distinctive theology of revelation, which offers possibilities for understanding how divine presence may be manifested outside the canonical boundaries of Christian tradition.
The structure of A Generous Symphony is a chronological presentation of the Balthasarian canon of imaginative literature, which allows readers to see how social and historical interests guide Balthasar’s readings in the pre-Christian, medieval, and modern eras. While other books have examined the systematic theology of Balthasar, this book will examine the important question of how students of literature, like Balthasar, can be transformed into theologians by attending to the implicit presence of Christ in what Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem "As kingfishers catch fire . . ." called "the ten thousand places." Balthasar’s deep investment in the uniqueness of Christian revelation is underlined, while, at the same time, his aesthetic sympathies cause him to invest literature with ‘quasi-sacramental’ status.