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What to Read About Barth

What to Read About Barth

When one has a whole unique category for Karl Barth, they tend to get a lot of questions. This has especially been true for me as I am by confessions and affiliation a conservative Presbyterian (PCA). Outside of concern about my feelings towards Barth's view of inerrancy, the only question I receive more often is what books I recommend reading.

Then nearly out of the blue, I received a copy of An Explorer's Guide to Karl Barth by David Guretzki. I was excited to see the book's content and emphasis on introducing individuals to the theology of Barth. 

The books by and about Barth are legion. And it can be intimidating to perform an Amazon search for Karl Barth. Now I am no Barthian expert. I haven't read anywhere near as much as I wish. But I was excited to see my recommendations quoted constantly in Guretzki's work. As Guretzki states in his opening chapter titled "Why Karl Barth,"

"There has been no other theological writer who has done more to sharpen my own theological thinking and teaching than Karl Barth" (14)

I've provided brief descriptions of what should be expected from the book. Neither list is ordered.

By Barth

  • Dogmatics in Outline (My review) — Consisting of lectures on the Apostle's Creed from 1946, this volume is a thing and concise mature Barth. Within the structure of the creed, Barth's Christology, anthropology, and ecclesiology are put on display.
  • Deliverance to the Captives (My Review) — Consisting of sermons spanning the later life of Barth, the pastoral and practical side of Barth's theology is evident. These sermons, delivered almost entirely to prisoners, demonstrate how Barth's Christology impacts his presentation of the Gospel.
  • The Great Promise (My Review) — Though Barth's The Epistle to the Romans is the most herald of Barth's more exegetical writings, it's density and dialectical emphasis encourage me to not put it on this list. In its place, The Great Promise consists of lectures on Luke 1 from 1934 (before Barth's expulsion from Germany). Barth's fiery spirit is present alongside some excellent thoughts on the incarnation and church community. 

About Barth

  • Participation in Christ (My Review) — Meant to be an introduction to Barth's Chruch Dogmatics, Adam Neder presumes to tackle an almost impossible task. Looking specifically at the theme of our union with Jesus Christ, this volume is a valuable introduction to Barth's Christology and soteriology.
  • Karl Barth and American Evangelicalism — By no means a small book, this collection of essays covers much of Karl Barth's theology. The spectrum of authors also lends itself to a broad set of perspectives on finer points of Barth's theology. The chapter extrapolating on Cornelius Van Til are particularly valuable.
  • Karl Barth: A Theological Legacy — Written by Eberhard Jungel, this book provides a nice sketch of Barth's theology and person. I haven't read it in a couple years but it is frequently presented as an invaluable book.
  • An Explorer's Guide to Karl Barth — It might seem unfair to tack this book onto the list given its recent release. Still, I am convinced that this book will serve as a phenomenal introduction to laymen and pastors in conservative churches
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