The first five chapters of Echoes of Eden: Reflections of Christianity, Literature, and the Arts all seek to build a framework for the reader to interpret the last five chapters and ultimately any other literary texts after that. The groundwork Jerram Barrs lays is reminiscent of the first chapter of Romans: the word of God is written on the hearts of all men and perpetually suppressed thereafter. Barrs does this from the other direction by pointing back to Eden. All authors are created in God’s image and their creative work points to His perfect creative origin. He carefully explains, “We must not say that ‘art is for art’s sake,’ for this is the Romantic heresy. Art is to be tied to the reality of God’s creation and to our human calling to live as His image bearers.”
In the last five chapters, he applies this framework to some of the greatest authors the literary world has continually appreciated: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. Most readers are familiar with many of the plots of these authors regardless of whether or not they have sat down and read through each of the stories. For that reason, the reader’s prior intimate knowledge of these texts is not required to glean from what Barrs writes. I recommend this book to any Christian seeking to understand the importance of reading literature written by both believers and unbelievers and the role of artistic literary expression in God’s created world.