This reader from Karl Barth’s multi-volume Church Dogmatics offers an introduction to the whole work, key readings in reasonable portions with introductions, and provides helpful pointers to secondary material for further interaction with the primary literature. An ideal textbook for all beginners studying the work of one of the most important theologians of the last century.
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“Human ethics is rooted in the divine command, and it is reiterated in the divine works.” (Page 86)
“Barth argues that God actively makes not only possible but actual the conditions of theology by grace conveyed in his very Word in all its forms. So theology is nachdenken, a ‘thinking after’ the knowledge of God given in the gospel.” (Pages 15–16)
“These two concepts—dialectic and actualism—have actually functioned in accounts of Barth’s theological development. For many years the historical reflections of Hans Urs von Balthasar dominated Barth studies.11 Balthasar suggested that Barth’s theology moved in two phases: from dialectic to analogy. That is, Barth began his move beyond liberalism by emphasizing the dialectical relation of human and divine knowledge, speaking in a shrill voice of the difference between God and creation. But Barth then shifted to appreciate the communion between God and creation (likely due to the influence of reading Anselm’s natural theology in the early 1930s), so that he began speaking of an analogical relation that now emphasized the link between God and creation in Jesus Christ.” (Page 7)
“In conclusion, I should make three recommendations to the reader. First, this book works best if studied alongside a thematic introduction to the theology of Karl Barth.” (Page 11)
“This exaggerated thought is by no means an isolated one in Luther at this period. For him the Old and the New Testament are related as the written word on the one side and the word preached on the other. ‘Thus the books of Moses and the prophets are also Gospel, since they have preached and described beforehand the same thing about Christ as the apostles have preached and written after. Yet there is a difference between them. For if both are written on paper as regards the letter, the Gospel or the New Testament should not really be written but put in the living voice, which then soundeth forth and is heard everywhere in the world.” (Page 20)
Embarking on the study of Barth’s Church Dogmatics is no easy matter. This careful selection, with its perceptive introduction and commentaries, is an excellent guide to exploring one of the monumental texts of modern theology.
—John Webster, professor of systematic theology, University of Aberdeen
This volume is a welcome resource for both teachers and students of Karl Barth’s theology. Michael Allen’s well-chosen excerpts from the Church Dogmatics are lengthy enough to provide a feel for Barth’s sprawling theological discourse and wide-ranging enough to provide an appreciation of the full scope of his dogmatic thought. The introduction and notes locate Barth’s work within the context of classical and modern divinity and direct readers to the best English-language literature on the Basel theologian. Those who have heretofore feared the prospect of exploring Karl Barth’s massive Church Dogmatics may now take courage thanks to Allen’s able guidance.
—Scott R. Swain, associate professor of systematic theology, academic dean, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
This is a judiciously selected and carefully introduced series of key readings from the Church Dogmatics. Allen has done the newcomer to Barth a great service by preparing this collection of texts from what remains the most important work in theology of recent times. This volume is a fine resource both for inspiring readers to venture further into Barth’s work for themselves and for encouraging students to engage appreciatively and critically with its content.
—Paul T. Nimmo, lecturer in systematic theology, University of Edinburgh