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The Epistle to the Romans (Galaxy Books)
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2003
This is a stunning manifesto by the greatest Protestant theologian since Calvin and the Reformation. In just under 550 pages, counting various edition prefaces, this commentary on Paul's seminal Epistle exploded onto the theological scene just after the First World War. Like Kierkegaard's piercing attack on Christendom, Barth reminds us that Christianity is and should be a scandal and an offence to the world, and not a "religion". One of his central themes is God the unknown, ever distant and totally apart from sinful humankind. This is not the God we may like to think we can co-operate with and manipulate. Barth writes of the unfashionable God of judgement and wrath, the God who elects the saved from eternity, irrespective of our merits and demerits. Then, just as you despair (and despair you absolutely must, insists Barth), he appears to move his Calvinism on from grim double predestination to election through Jesus the Christ, thus opening up salvic possibilities for all. You can hear the collective sigh of relief. "To believe in Jesus is the most hazardous of all hazards", he says on page 99, and as you read through his commentary, you know he is right. It's breathtaking stuff. These are hard messages, especially for today's inclusive world. It is almost 90 years since this book was first published, but it remains a stark challenge to the theologians of comfy Christianity. As Karl Adam put it, it's a bombshell in their playground.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2008
I've just finished this and I loved it. The adjectives in the title express it all really...

I read his 'A Shorter Commentary on Romans' last Christmas and enjoyed that, so I set myself to crack this one and it was well worth it. I've come to it via his shorter one and Brunner's 'The Mediator', and altho Barth protests in one of the prefaces (all six from all six editions are included!) that he shouldn't be read thru the spectacles of Brunner, I must say I found Brunner very helpful to getting a handle on what Barth's central message was.

Anyway, this blows away so much - everything in fact, even itself! That is what is so valuable and entertaining and edifying about it. The book itself does not stand anywhere. Most people write their books as the answer, or definitely part of an answer to a question and so they want it to stand with the integrity that they believe it has. This is their written conviction. Barth lacks no conviction or integrity, but his insight is what makes the difference: nothing stands and we don't speak the truth. Only God is truth and we, if he allows, are echoes, or, as he puts it, 'significant' in acts or words. But only God is good and eternal. This book must fade to nothing if it is accurate, and this is the power of Barth's understanding! And it can only be accurate at best (which nothing truly is anyway) because God alone and what he does and says is truth. Barth appeared to have a strange, transcendent humility that was probably a reflection of his vision of the all-powerful, transcendent God that he worshipped. It is this humility that was one of the most affecting aspects of this book for me. When we say something, we want to really say it! But Barth wanted to say nothing and be nothing and because of this he says it all!

I was left flattened in parts of this book by the power and majesty of God. For that it's worth 5 stars. I look forward to exploring more of his work.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 1999
This is the book that brought an end to 19th century liberal theology's attempt to produce a neat synthesis of Christianity and culture, a psychological Christianity or an anthropologized Christianity. The project was a failure, and Barth tells us why and what should replace it -- a religionless Christianity? Not really a Biblical commentary. If you're looking for an exposition of the text, this isn't what you want. It's more like a manifesto, using Paul's epistle to the Romans as a place to begin the attack on cultural, non-prophetic Christianity. Written in a dialectical, highly expressive style. If you like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, this is your kind of theologizing -- with a hammer. It can be exhausting, and you will either love it or hate it. Barth later changed his style and tone, but not his message.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2010
I must begin by saying that at this stage I am unable to review this book in its entirety. I purchased this book because it appeared amongst references listed by Jacob Needleman in his book, 'What is God?' What I did not expect was the depth to which Karl Barth reaches in his work on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans.
There are many levels of understanding that can be accessed in Karl Barth's work, maybe all of which can only come about, or at the very least, through personal meditative experience. I would suspect that this work may not be very approachable without some previous understanding of one's own spiritual/psychological explorations. Having said that, I would nevertheless encourage anyone to read this book, but with the understanding that much, if not most, of the epistle is about the esoteric rather than the exoteric world.
I regret I am unable to say more, but there is such a wealth of material to be explored here that any detailed review at this stage risks being shallow and inconsequential.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2012
One of Karl Barth's great works. His approach is different from most, his thinking is fresh and outside of the box.
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on 28 February 1999
This is the book that brought an end to 19th century liberal theology's attempt to produce a neat synthesis of Christianity and culture, a psychological Christianity or an anthropologized Christianity. The project was a failure, and Barth tells us why and what should replace it -- a religionless Christianity? Not really a Biblical commentary. If you're looking for an exposition of the text, this isn't what you want. It's more like a manifesto, using Paul's epistle to the Romans as a place to begin the attack on cultural, non-prophetic Christianity. Written in a dialectical, highly expressive style. If you like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, this is your kind of theologizing -- with a hammer. It can be exhausting, and you will either love it or hate it. Barth later changed his style and tone, but not his message.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2007
As a student of theology I have found Barths Book great read. This was the book that droped a theological bombshell on the theological playgrond of eary 20th century europe. The book opend up the theologicl curtian to let the transcedent God in. It is not a book to be read like an ordinary commantary as it expounds the text in a very profound way, it needs to be read reflectively. Barths thoughts are both an insignt and a challange to read, even today. I am really enjoying reading it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2012
I was taught the religion invented for Franco by a sort of not very clever apostles, that were a little lazy and fascist. I never understood that religion: It was something about a stone. I like this book because at least you see a religion explained. You can agree or disagree, but there is something you can think about. How can you think about a stone?
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on 9 October 2014
A lot easier to understand than I was led to believe.
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on 15 December 2014
Heavy going but very useful
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