Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Preparing for die Kirchliche Dogmatik

Ben Myers has written a terrific and enjoyable Ode to the Church Dogmatics on his blog to celebrate the occasions of Jim West’s me-directed generosity! As mentioned in the previous post, Ben's enthusiasm for Barth is contagious!

Those of you who have read the Church Dogmatics in the original German will know that Barth’s sentences can be a little tricky, long and twisted, and take some getting used to. As preparation I decided to read his Dogmatik im Grundriss with an English translation to hand to help me get used to his vocabulary and style. However, as useful as that was, the Kirchliche Dogmatik is an altogether different level of complexity. Not as difficult as Balthasar’s Herlichkeit, however. Gladly.

In a response to my last post I mentioned what books I have found useful in preparing for the arrival of the Kirchliche Dogmatik. Those from Ben’s list (cf. last post) that I’ve most enjoyed are:
  1. Karl Barth, by John Webster. This is the most enjoyable of the lot. Highly readable, sympathetic, suitable for absolute beginners, well structured and to the point. This is a volume I’ll be turning to again as I progress through the volumes.
  2. The Modern Theologians, ed. by Ford has a great chapter on Barth by Jenson. Apart from the fact that this is a book that ought to be in every theologians library’ (be careful you get the correct edition however), Jensons’ chapter on Barth is intelligent, inspiring and punchy.
  3. As I mentioned above, Dogmatik im Grundriss is a real treasure, and accompanied me in many a time of quite reflection, worship and prayer. In places, I was moved most deeply by the love of God.
  4. Also a lot of fun has been Karl Barth: His Life from Letters and Autobiographical Texts. I have spent many an enjoyable hour with this one; highly readable. I’m glad that I found a cheap (German original) copy second hand shortly after Jim sent the KD.
There are, of course, plenty of others that could be recommended, but these are the most valuable in my limited experience, thus including two shortish overviews, an original Barth text, and a biography. Ben also strongly recommended Eberhard Busch: The Great Passion: An Introduction to KB’s Theology, but I haven’t gotten that far through his reading list to comment on that one yet!


At 5/03/2006 2:34 AM, Anonymous Ben Myers said...

You'll definitely love Busch's Great Passion as well when you get to it!


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