Karl Barth and the Incarnation In Paperback This Month

Karl Barth and the Incarnation (Book)My book on Karl Barth’s Christology has been in print for a little over a year now, though the price tag has put it out of reach for the ordinary theologian on a budget.  But, thanks to the wonders of the paperback, that’s all about to change.

The paperback edition of Karl Barth and the Incarnation will arrive at the end of this month! So if you have interests in Christology, the history of doctrine, or Barth’s theology, I hope you will give the book a look.

Amazon currently has the book listed at a pre-order price of $29.95.  Preview the book there.

Here, again, is the overview of what’s going on in these pages:

This work demonstrates the significance of Karl Barth’s Christology by examining it in the context of his orientation toward the classical tradition – an orientation that was both critical and sympathetic. To compare this Christology with the doctrine’s history, Sumner suggests first that the Chalcedonian portrait of the incarnation is conceptually vulnerable at a number of points. By recasting the doctrine in actualist terms – the history of Jesus’ lived existence as God’s fulfillment of His covenant with creatures, rather than a metaphysical uniting of natures – Barth is able to move beyond problems inherent in the tradition.

Despite a number of formal and material differences, however, Barth’s position coheres with the intent of the ancient councils and ought to be judged as orthodox. Barth’s great contribution to Christology is in the unapologetic affirmation of ‘the humanity of God’.

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Book Review: Edward Oakes’ Infinity Dwindled To Infancy

Infinity Dwindled to Infancy (Edward Oakes)My review of Edward T. Oakes’ new introduction to ChristologyInfinity Dwindled to Infancy — has just been published in the new issue of the International Journal of Systematic Theology (vol. 16 no. 2).  This is a very strong survey with few if any oversights, and I definitely commend it for those who are new to this area of Christian theology.  It’s also very well-suited for classroom use, particularly at Catholic and ecumenically-minded institutions.

Father Oakes was professor of dogmatic theology at Mundelein Seminary and University of St. Mary of the Lake.  He was a member of the Society of Jesus and perhaps best-known as a leading scholar of the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, and just passed away this last December.  (Read the memorial at First Things.)

From the review:

Throughout Oakes quotes copiously from secondary sources, particularly those he favors (including Hans Urs von Balthasar). This is usually welcome in the main body, or relegated to extended footnotes, but adds to the sense that the book seeks to be a classroom text – more a compendium of historical and contemporary scholarship – and not at all original. The overall accessibility and thoroughness of the book commend it well for classroom use. A pair of appendices offer short summaries of the ecumenical councils and a glossary of terms. More complex material is included in the volume, but wisely shunted into excurses (the extra Calvinisticum, for example, as well as the distinction of will and intellect in Maximus’ dyothelitism). Both undergraduate and graduate-level students will thus benefit from Oakes’ treatment. Particularly in the earlier chapters it seems as though no stone has been left unturned, no detail left out for the sake of brevity.

Look for the full piece in the April issue of IJST.

Coming From T&T Clark: ‘Karl Barth and the Incarnation’

Karl Barth and the IncarnationT&T Clark has added to their website the official listing for my forthcoming book Karl Barth and the Incarnation: Christology and the Humility of God.  I stumbled across the listing last week while looking up another book in the Studies in Systematic Theology series, and was surprised to see that the book has made it up and already has a shiny purple cover.  Only the eBook formats are listed so far, but rest assured … there will be a hardback, too.

I was surprised only because the manuscript isn’t actually in yet.  It’s due to T&T at the end of this week, and I’ve been burning the midnight oil to complete the final revisions.  It will be on time (knock on wood) and hopefully arrive on or around the publisher’s anticipated September release date. So please, if this is a topic that interests you, be a mensch and look for it at AAR or ask your library to acquire it.

This is a revised version of my PhD dissertation at the University of Aberdeen (2012). It’s been a little strange to revisit this work after a full year away from it.  It was pretty much my life for 36 intense months. Of course books are “never completed, only abandoned,” but I am very grateful to have the opportunity to revisit the project and (I hope) make some improvements.

I’ll have some things to say and some previews to offer in the months ahead, but for now let me reproduce the table of contents (which is on T&T’s site, along with a description) with a wee bit of commentary:

Introduction

1. The Identity Problem: Tensions in the Christological Tradition
The basic case of the book is that the merits of Karl Barth’s Christology may be seen in sharpest relief when contrasted with certain conceptual limitations in the Christology (or Christologies) of the classical tradition. Chapter 1 lays the groundwork by narrating that history and identifying four problematic areas for the church’s doctrine of the person of Jesus Christ: his identity with the pre-existent Word, divine immutability, kenosis, and divine impassibility.

2. Barth’s Response to Logos Christology
In the second chapter I examine Barth’s regard for the Christology of the ancient church and the Reformation, tracing its development from Barth’s lectures in Gottingen to CD IV.

3. Barth’s Positive Doctrine of Christ
If the first chapter provides context and the second chapter does the ground-clearing, Chapter 3 lays out Barth’s positive presentation of the doctrine of Christ.  The focus is on CD II/1-2 and CD IV/1-2, taking up four pairs of themes that best display what Barth is up to in his actualist Christology: election and covenant, time and eternity, the communication of natures, and the status duplex.

4. Barth and the Question of ‘Chalcedonianism’
With the positive presentation on the table I turn to some critical analysis, examining the relationship that Barth’s mature Christology has to that of the received tradition and engaging a somewhat controverted question of whether it ought to be regarded as “Chalcedonian.”

5. Barth’s Christology and the Challenge of Incarnation
The final chapter contains the real pay-off, as I line up the four critical issues outlined in Chapter 1 and discuss how Barth’s Christology offers resources for thinking through and beyond them — while yet remaining faithful to the orthodox tradition.

Bibliography

Index