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The SPCK Introduction to Karl Rahner

, 2007

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Karl Rahner, a German Jesuit, was a prominent and influential Catholic theologian of the twentieth century. In the 1950s he was on the margins, his orthodoxy questioned and his work censored. However, a decade later, he was a key theological adviser and shaping influence at the Second Vatican Council. Heavily influenced by Aquinas, his work sought to reconcile Christian faith with contemporary thought and the revelation of God in human experience. Here, Karen Kilby makes Rahner’s often dense and difficult thinking accessible to a wide audience. She sketches out a few of Rahner’s central themes, giving the reader a sense of the breadth of his work.

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  • Introduces the life and ideas of this prominent Catholic theologian
  • Analyzes Karl Rahner’s thinking from a Christian perspective
  • Discusses the lasting effect of this influential individual
  • God and Humanity
  • Christ and Grace
  • The Church and the World
  • Sacraments and Symbols
  • Philosophy and Rahner’s Theology
  • Spirituality and Rahner’s Theology
  • Rahner the Dilettante
  • Rahner the Man

Top Highlights

“Rahner says that the mind’s basic dynamism towards God is what makes possible its knowledge of finite objects.” (Page 4)

“Rahner’s question is then not ‘Is this true?’ but instead ‘What does it mean?’” (Page 17)

“The sacraments, he maintains, in fact cause grace by symbolizing it” (Page 40)

“On Rahner’s account we are, whether we realize it or not, already related to God. Furthermore, this relatedness is absolutely essential to us. It is so deeply built into us, so absolutely critical in making us what we are, that nothing we do would be possible without it. Being related to God is so much a part of our structure, if Rahner is to be believed, that it is not possible properly to describe what it is to love, or what it is to will or even to think, in the perfectly ordinary, human way, without bringing God into the description.” (Page 2)

“God transforms us by giving himself to us, rather than giving himself to us because he has transformed us.” (Page 23)

Lucid, perceptive, thickly textured, theologically rich, and refreshingly concise—Kilby’s presentation of Rahner’s theology is a must for students of Rahner, be they first year seminarians or senior theologians. I have taught her book for years and I still learn something new from it every time I return—it’s brilliant reading.

Serene Jones, Yale Divinity School

This is an excellent book, very useful for students, and one of the clearest introductions to Rahner.

—John McDade, principal, Heythrop College

Karen Kilby’s book will be invaluable to teachers and students because of its lucid, learned, and penetrating understanding of one of the most important theologians of the twentieth century. It is the best single slim volume on Rahner that I know.

Gavin D’Costa, professor of Catholic theology, University of Bristol

  • Title: The SPCK Introduction to Karl Rahner
  • Author: Karen Kilby
  • Publisher: SPCK
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Pages: 128

Karen Kilby is special lecturer in theology at the University of Nottingham. She has contributed articles on Rahner to The Blackwell Companion to Modern Theology, The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought, and The Modern Theologians.


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  1. Ordice Gallups, Obl.S.B.
  2. Nicholas A. B. Hall
    Have his 'Theological Investigations' being considered for pre-pubbing?


Digital list price: $12.99
Save $3.00 (23%)