Thursday, February 5, 2015

Retrieving a Radical Barth: Gorringe's Reading

Recently I've been reading, marking and inwardly digesting Timothy Gorringe's excellent contextual study, Karl Barth Against Hegemony (New York, Oxford Press, 1999).
Copies of this book tend to be pricey, but my wife tracked down a copy -- from somewhere across the pond, I think -- for about $30.

The book, part of the Oxford series Christian Theology in Context that Gorringe edited with Graham Ward, offers a genetic-historical overview of Barth's theological development from his student days to his final dogmatic writings in Das christliche Leben (The Christian Life). Rather than focusing on paradigm shifts in Barth's thought (as Bruce McCormack does, for example), this text book presents Barth's theological work as, on the whole, exhibiting a more or less unified trajectory. In this vein, Gorringe draws heavily, though not uncritically, from the provocative interpretation of Barth proffered in the early 1970s by the German socialist theologian Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt.

In brief, Gorringe reads Barth as sort of proto-liberation theologian whose polemical and positive dogmatic claims were shaped by the Swiss theologian's profound commitment to human freedom and were aimed at fostering emancipatory praxis. . .

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