Karl Barth’s lectures on the first chapter of the Gospel of John, delivered at Muenster in 1925–1926 and at Bonn in 1933, came at an important time in his life, when he was turning his attention more fully to dogmatics. Theological interpretation was thus his primary concern, especially the relation between revelation and the witness to revelation, which helped to shape his formulation of the role of the written (and spoken) word vis-a-vis the incarnate Word.
The text is divided into three sections—John 1:1–18, 19–34, 35–51, with the largest share of the book devoted to the first section. Each section begins with Barth’s own translation, followed by verse-by-verse and phrase-by-phrase commentary on the Greek text. Although Barth’s interpretation is decidedly theological, he does take up questions of philology and textual criticism more thoroughly than in his other works.
Much has happened in Johannine scholarship since these lectures were first delivered, yet they remain valuable today—100 years after Barth’s birth—both for their insights into the gospel and into Karl Barth.
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