Book Review: Thy Word Is Truth
Editor: George Hunsinger
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Reading Level: High
"Over the past twenty years or so Barth studies have become increasingly technical. Although he saw himself as writing primarily for preachers, he has ever more become the captive of professors…While this book is a guide to his use of Scripture, it will succeed only if it whets reader's appetite to read Barth." (xx)
When studying Karl Barth, it is often necessary to study merely a cross section. Whether it is epistemology, election, exegesis, or ethics, Barth's girth of writing and depth of insight limits extensive study to a subject by subject basis. Thy Word is Truth, edited by Barth scholar George Hunsinger, is such a material on Barth's perspective on and usage of Scripture. Perhaps no other element of Barth’s thought simultaneously challenges conservative and liberal platforms.
In his introduction, Hunsinger laments the appropriation of the pastorally minded Barth by scholastics (xx). Though the subject matter lends itself to practicality (i.e. interpretation of Scripture), the content of Thy Word is Truth is immensely deep. The last five essays are presentations from the 2006 conference at Princeton Theological Seminary. These are scholarly essays on the practicality of Barth’s exegesis. Thy Word Is Truth consists of three sections: Orientation, Exemplification, and Application. The first section of essays intends to lay the groundwork of Barth's views on the nature of Scripture, grammatical-historical, hermeneutics, and theologically practical exegesis. This section requires existing knowledge on both Barth and Scriptural studies in general.
The standout essays of Thy Word Is Truth make up the center of the collection. George Hunsinger's essay on Rudolf Smend and Barth's
In conclusion, all of the essays in Thy Word Is Truth do a great job of introducing Barth. There is a definitive presumption that the reader will already be familiar with many of the technical issues surrounding the subject of Scripture and its interpretation. Though this makes Barth more accessible, the volume itself remains a very technical read. This may detour some readers. However, if judged by Hunsinger's goal that "it will succeed only if it whets reader's appetite to read Barth" (xx), then Thy Word is Truth is an outstanding success.