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Barth in Conversation


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About the Author

Karl Barth is widely regarded as the most important theologian of the twentieth century, and his observations about the church and its place in a modern world continue to engage religious scholars nearly fifty years after his death. Eberhard Busch is professor emeritus of Reformed theology at the University of Goettingen, Germany and a former student of and personal assistant to Karl Barth. Karlfried Froehlich is Princeton Theological Seminary's Benjamin B. Warfield Emeritus Professor of Ecclesiastical History and serves as German editor for Barth in Conversation. His special interest is the history of biblical interpretation, especially in the Middle Ages, Christian iconography, and ecumenism. Darrell L. Guder is Princeton Theological Seminary's Henry Winters Luce Emeritus Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology and serves as English editor for Barth in Conversation. His writing and teaching focus on the theology of the missional church, especially the theological implications of the paradigm shift to post-Christendom as the context for Christian mission in the West. David C. Chao is a PhD candidate in theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and serves as Project Editor for Barth in Conversation. His research interests include Protestant and Catholic dogmatics (especially as they pertain to issues of nature and grace), Reformed theology (classical and modern), and Asian American theology. Matthias Gockel is senior lecturer in Systematic Theology at the University of Basel and serves as German editor for Barth in Conversation. His research interests include the theology of Karl Barth and its reception, modern Protestant theology, the doctrine of God, and political ethics.


"Barth in Conversation is every beginning and even advanced Barth reader's dream - Barth without the footnotes but with all the feeling. No less profoundly theological and Biblical, Barth in these dialogues, discussions, and debates, is all the more practical and personal. You can now overhear the recently retired professor be interviewed by TIME magazine and the BBC, answer questions put to him by missionaries, church leaders, youth pastors, and by students at his neighborhood restaurant. The transcripts, recordings, and notes of a full, very critical, year of international and intentional engagements are now available for the English reader. For those who feasted with (and on) Barth, now you can sit down at table with him. I recommend these conversations for any who would desire to know better the churchman who wrote the Church Dogmatics.

Barth in Conversation presents a delightful, smiling, personally engaging Christian without being any less of an engaging, exacting theologian. Barth on a whirlwind travel schedule meets with many in small and large venues, inviting them to speak, listening to their questions and responses to his answers, and thus initiating genuine dialogue, all the while embracing them as his equals in their commitment to Christ and the church. These conversations reveal more fully the disciple of Christ glad for the companions along the way. Not alone in his study, but gathered with fellow believers, Barth in Conversation is Barth not read but witnessed, not overheard so much as heard. I recommend this volume to all who would meet, witness, and be welcomed by Karl Barth".-Jerry Andrews, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of San Diego

"A book that seizes and sustains interest. This remarkable collection of conversations, beautifully edited and translated, reveals Karl Barth in his first year of retirement doing theology, not as dogmatikos (firm doctrinal formulation), but as gynastikos (something being tested) with multiple publics and media. He shows himself at home in all of them. In every case, Barth engages with his partner and the crucial issues of the time with curiosity, patience, insight, seriousness, and above all with joy rooted in the living God. This book enriches our perception of Karl Barth, especially in the conversations around the Barmen Declaration."

-Richard Topping, Principal and Professor of Studies in the Reformed Tradition, Vancouver School of Theology

"In the first decade of my work as a pastor, I read the Church Dogmatics often. The help I received was immeasurable. Yet, I frequently found myself wishing I could have sat with professor Barth, face to face. To ask my questions. To press him further than he went. To bring before him the concrete challenges of the community of faith and hear him speak to my specific concerns.

The conversations, available for the first time in English in this volume, are as close to what I had wished for as one could get. Here, I am invited into the exchange. My questions are put to him in others' voices. Barth's answers address my own concerns. The tone and tenor of the transcriptions put me there with the old teacher. He speaks to me as a pastor, a student, and a colleague seeking the path to faithful ministry today. This is a gift to the church, and to every pastor who wants to grow."-Christian Andrews, Lead Pastor, Renaissance Church, Summit, New Jersey.

"The appearance in English translation of these interviews and conversations with Karl Barth in 1963 is a welcome event. A sharp sense of context, an enthusiasm for theological conversation, an irrepressible humour, and a restless intellect are all at work here. More importantly perhaps, Barth's musings reveal the ways in which theology was never for him a formulaic exercise or set of defensive manoeuvres. With its explanatory footnotes, this volume should prove an enjoyable read for a wide audience."

-David Fergusson, Professor of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

"Theological systems and philosophical tomes remain important, but now more than ever we're aware that it's not brain in vats that do theology, but living, embodied persons, with histories, commitments, and senses of humor. Barth told us long ago that it's a joyful task to be a theologian, because it's something that living persons do in contemplation of a living God. In this volume you'll find a treasure of little known pieces of Barth that reveal, suddenly but surely, a living person doing theology with joy. Each piece gives us insight not only into Barth the theologian, but Barth the person. It is a joy to read, inspiring the reader to look again and again for revelation of God in Jesus Christ."

-Andrew Root, The Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Youth and Family Ministry, Luther Seminary, and author of The Pastor in a Secular Age

"This translation of the second of three volumes of Barth's conversations and interviews, this time from 1963, is yet another welcome addition to Barth scholarship in English, and of the same excellent technical quality as the earlier volume. Readers will again find intriguing personal perspectives on many themes, events, figures, questions, developments. The volume brings joy, insight, and inspiration to many who do not read as scholars, after all, bringing to life the voice of someone keenly interested in the students and the pastors he is listening and talking to. Again and again one cannot help but see the smile, hear the laughter, smell the pipe, and sense the urging - 'to show some courage, ' 'be a bit younger, ' 'speak less complicated, ' 'become more like children, ' 'not be boring, ' 'keep things simple, ' 'drink more coffee.' Still, the joy and the laughter never hides the seriousness, both of his responses and of his often critical counter questions. Indeed, 'this joy is a serious joy, ' still today."

-Dirk Smit, Rimmer and Ruth De Vries Professor of Reformed Theology and Public Life, Princeton Theological Seminary

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