One of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Karl Barth is best known for his monumental Church Dogmatics, a work that changed the modern theological landscape.It is less well known that Barth taught three distinct cycles of courses in dogmatics during his lifetime. His first effort consisted of a series of lectures at the University of Göttingen in 1924-25. These provocative lectures are now available in English for the first time in The Göttingen Dogmatics: Instruction in the Christian Religion, a work that is at once accessible and profoundly pastoral.
Representing the only larger dogmatics ever completed by Barth, the Göttingen Dogmaticsprefigures the unfinished Christian Dogmatics of Münster and the Church Dogmatics of Bonn and Basel. This translation by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, the premier translator of Barth, offers in two volumes the full text of Barth's Göttingen lectures according to the excellent three-volume Swiss edition in the Gesamtausgabe (Collected Words).
In this first volume Barth defines dogmatics as "scientific reflection on the Word of God" the Word that is (1) spoken by God in revelation, (2) recorded in holy scripture, and (3) proclaimed and heard in Christian preaching. After his lengthy prolegomena on the threefold form of the Word of God, Barth discusses in depth the doctrine of God. His treatment of the other major doctrinal loci in his preaching-oriented dogmatics anthropology, reconciliation, and redemption (eschatology) will appear in Volume Two.
Daniel L. Migliore, professor of systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, has written a superb, substantive introduction that highlights the theological and historical significance of theGöttingen Dogmatics and compares this work with Barth's Church Dogmatics. Migliore points out, among other things, the intimate bond for Barth between dogmatics and preaching: in the Göttingen lectures we see a Barth "who tenaciously does theology indeed defines theology in relation to preaching and pastoral praxis."
Ministers, seminary students, scholars, and theologically minded general readers will all appreciate and benefit from the Göttingen Dogmatics. As Migliore writes, "These lectures not only provide exceedingly rich new material for understanding the development of Barth's thought but also offer a remarkably original, lively, and 'reader-friendly' summary of Barth's earthly theology. . . . The clarity, passion, originality, struggle, candor, and humor exhibited in these lectures will establish a permanent place for them in the history of twentieth-century theology."