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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Selection of Essays on Karl Barth, 4 Jan 2005
By 
J. Mann - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth (Cambridge Companions to Religion) (Paperback)
Reading Karl Barth is like going back to Enid Blyton or J.R.R Tolkien, there is an air of nostalgia working through the traditional concepts of theology. His theological circle is more like a bubble, carrying the reader into an old world of Chalcedonian Christology, the election of grace, the Trinity etc. Each essay in this collection is beautifully written and covers a different aspect of Barth's thought: Salvation, the Bible, the Trinity, Creation, Christology, Revelation, the Holy Spirit etc.
The essays don't require previous knowledge of Barth and explain the ideas being discussed very clearly. For example the essay on Barth's Christology first explains Chalcedonian Christology (the classic Christian statement that Christ was one person in two natures, complete in deity and complete in humanity), then covers the two alternatives: Alexandrian and Antiochian, then explains how Barth is able to make use of all three traditions.
Barth created a beautifully detailed and complex system of thought that had many interesting things to say about traditional Christian theology. When it came to speaking against the evils of modern life - particularly of course the rise of Fascism and the Nazis - Barth's mighty theological fortress was able to powerfully attack the demonic and inhuman in the name of the Holy and the Good. However when it came to finding the good in the modern world - for example the moral advances of feminism, gay rights, animal rights etc - Barth's theology is unable to take in truths from outside the moat of his castle and the limits of his thinking become clear.
The essay I found particularly fascinating was Graham Ward's essay on "Barth, Modernity and Postmodernity" in which he argues that "the orthodox and traditional teaching of the Christian church has always been and will always necessarily be a critique of modernity, an unveiling of that which modernity forgets, polices or suppresses". As this quote indicates, these essays always try to cast Barth in the best possible light - it could be argued that Barth's theological bubble kept his thought a million miles away from a genuine encounter with the modern world - particularly that of postmodernism - however these essays make a pleasurable attempt at such an encounter.
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The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth (Cambridge Companions to Religion)
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