The Barth Lectures Synopsis
Colin Gunton was world renowned as a scholar, systematic theologian and Reformed minister; however, he never lived to fulfill his ambition to write a book devoted solely to Barth. Gunton on Barth is an in-depth analysis, derived from the lecture course he gave most years at King's College London: something of an annual institution it was aimed at undergraduates, though the majority of those attending were MA/PhD students, and researchers from America and Germany! Approximately half of the work consists of quotations representing an essential understanding: Colin was a creative lecturer, although he worked from notes he gave space to the free rein of his mind particularly when fielding questions or trying to analyze a particular strand of Barth's thought. Colin's understanding and expertise was world renowned. He did not take all Barth wrote uncritically, he struggled and wrestled with this giant of twentieth-century theology: as he always said at the beginning of the course, Not everyone buys into Barth...I don't, all the way along the line, as I get older I get more and more dissatisfied with the details of his working out of the faith...over the years I think I have developed a reasonable view of this great man who is thoroughly exciting and particularly, I can guarantee, if you do this course, that you will be a better theologian by the third year, whether or not you agree with him. ..he is a great man to learn to think theologically with.
The Barth Lectures Press Reviews
A remarkable book ... The whole of the lectures weave together strands of theology, historical theology, theologians and meaning in such a helpful way that a theological student might well ask, why didn't I travel to London and study with Gunton for a time? Ashland Theological Journal The lecture material is presented in an engaging and lucid fashion. Offering an approach which manages to introduce the novice in an accessible way to something of the vision and profundity of Barth's theological enterprise is a significant achievement in its own right. Second, the lecture transcripts preserve a number of comments and asides in which G. makes percipient observations and raises pertinent questions about the work of Barth ... Third, the lecture format allows for there to be communicated clearly and immediately the enthusiasm of G. for theology in general and for Barth in particular. Theologische Literaturzeitung, 2009 Title mention in Theology, January 2008 'This is an unusual, and unusually enjoyable book for several reasons. First, it is a lasting memorial to Colin Gunton's skill and passion as a theological educator...Second they were so faithfully heard and transcribed that those privileged to be there, can hear the voice, envisage the face, recall the energy and passion of Gunton in full theological flow. Third, the book is one person's transcribed and edited account (Paul Brazier) of the views of one of the best British theologians in a generation (Colin Gunton), expounding the 20th Century's most influential European Protestant Theologian (Karl Barth). Fourth, because the lectures are recorded pretty much verbatim, and with diagrams and charts and explanatory sections and questions for further discussion, the book reads often like a handbook to major divisions of the Church Dogmatics, with short focused sections making up carefully structured chapters. This series of lectures provide as accessible a way up into Barth's higher altitudes as I know...These lectures demonstrate how to engage with Barth, to use him as a massive presence to be tackled because he is there, and then to start climbing.' The Living Wittily blog ttp: //livingwittily.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/10/this-book-was-m.html A foreword by Christoph Scwobel and a warm introduction by Steve Holmes prepare us for one of the freshest introductions to Barth available. Again, we are placed in Professor Gunton's debt. Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology One of the best books published this year, and deserves a very wide readership by those who want to really engage with the Christian faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. --Sanford Lakoff One of the best introductions to Barth's theological thought and a moving document of Colin Gunton's style of doing theology.--Sanford Lakoff The book has the feel and the language of what we expect from a Gunton book, but it also retains the feel of Gunton the teacher...This all makes the book a great read...If you've never read Barth, Gunton's book is a great place to start. If you've never read Gunton, The Barth Lectures are also a great place to start, because they show him engaging with the theologian that most shaped his theology. - Andy Goodliff, website review--Sanford Lakoff This is a quirky and fantastic introduction to the theology of Karl Barth...The Barth Lectures is a concise and very readable introduction to the theology of Karl Barth by one of the foremost English theologians of the twentieth century. The transcriptions, which include solecisms characteristic of off-the-cuff ruminations, come across as charming rather than annoying and are able to bring Barth's lofty ideas down with clear descriptions. Perhaps the book's most important contribution is Gunton's occasional call to his students to read Barth for oneself. You must read it! he pleads at several points. Because of Gunton's insight and obvious enthusiasm for the subject, his reader is certain to do just that. -Andrew Zack Lewis, Religious Studies Review, September 2008 Not all readers will agree, of course, that the East/West divide is quite as stark as Gunton seemed to believe, or that all our problems can be traced back to St. Augustine. Especially beginners in Barth-studies should be made aware that these are questiones disputatae.But it is part of Gunton's generosity of spirit that his disagreements with Barth are never obtrusive. His criticisms are tentative, probing, and qualified with a slew of 'maybes' and 'I think's'. Whether or not one resonates with Gunton's critique of Barth, or with his own brand of neo-Cappadocian Evangelicalism, these lectures are the chance to see an agile theological mind delighting in a great subject. They also wonderfully model the virtue of charity in theological discussion. Joseph Mangina, Wycliffe College, Modern Theology--Sanford Lakoff Modern Theology We should all take Gunton's advice and read as much of Barth as we can because 'the people that write about him are much more boring than he is' (p. 9)! However, we may like to make at least one exception with The Barth Lectures. -Scott Harrower, Themelios