On Religion: The Revelation of God as the Sublimation of Religion

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9780567031099: On Religion: The Revelation of God as the Sublimation of Religion
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The study Karl Barth has generally been excluded from religious studies departments in favour of more liberal theologians such as Tillich. For many years scholar Garrett Green has argued that there is no justification for this neglect. To support his theory that Barth can and should be studied as a religious theorist rather than just a theologian Garrett Green presents a brand new translation of Chapter 17 of Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics prefaced by a detailed introduction to the text.

This important new translation counters the idea that Barth rejected the notion of religion out of hand by correcting a number errors in the original version which obscure Barth's central argument. In particular the crucial word, Aufhebung, in the title is translated here as sublimation rather than abolition. The translation will do better justice to the German original and will be more accessible to contemporary readers. Unlike the original version, all Greek, Latin and Hebrew citations are translated into English, and the NRSV is used for the Bible quotes rather than the King James.

The translation is accompanied by a text by Garrett Green introducing the scholar and student to Barth as a religious theorist. The book concludes with appendices containing teaching materials and a summary of developed by the author in the classroom over years.

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About the Author:

'He undoubtedly is one of the giants in the history of theology.' -Christianity Today

Karl Barth was described by Pope Pius XII as the most important theologian since Thomas Aquinas, the Swiss Pastor and Theologian, and Barth continues to be a major influence on students, scholars and preachers. Barth's theology found its expression mainly through his closely reasoned fourteen part magnum opus, Die Kirchliche Dogmatik. Having taken over 30 years to write, the Church Dogmatics is regarded as one of the most important theological works of all time, and represents the pinnacle of Barth's achievements as a theologian.

Garrett Green is the Class of 1943 Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College, USA and the author of Theology, Hermeneutics, and Imagination: The Crisis of Interpretation at the End of Modernity (Cambridge University Press 2000).

Review:

'Barth's account of religion in the first volume of the Church Dogmatics has been subject to all manner of misunderstanding. This superb new translation not only catches the vigour and nuance of Barth's prose, but also helps liberate the text from some conventional misperceptions. With its substantial and perceptive introduction, setting what Barth has to say in relation to contemporary study of the nature of religion, this fresh translation presents a very different Barth, of interest to theologians and theorists of religion alike.'
(John Webster, Professor of Systematic Theology, King's College, University of Aberdeen)

Karl Barth has a reputation for being the implacable foe of religion, which he is said to have rejected in the name of Christ. Garrett Green explodes this simplistic view. He gives us a Barth who is a shrewd, critically sympathetic interpreter of the human phenomenon of religion. Just as important, he gives us a Barth in English who sounds like Barth in German: intellectually probing, rhetorically dazzling, spiritually profound. This book should be required reading in courses on "religion and postmodernism." (Joseph Mangina, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Wycliffe College, Toronto School of Theology, Canada)

"Green's book is an outstanding contribution to how the concept of 'religion' has been appropriated by a major theological thinker. In doing so, it simultaneously addresses the hotly debated issue of the relationship of theology and the academic study of religion." (William E. Paden, Professor of Religion, University of Vermont)

'Green presents a provocative argument that Barth needs to be taken seriously as a theorist of religion, alongside figures like Freud and Durkheim. This book challenges orthodoxies among both theologians and religious studies scholars.' (Eugene V. Gallagher, Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College)

"In this edition, Green corrects errors and restores phrases and italicizes emphases that were omitted when the Dogmatics was translated from German to English. He provides a translator's note and an extensive introduction to Barth's life and work. While the audience for such a specialized work is limited, those scholars who may have once dismissed Barth would do well to pay the book some attention." (Publishers Weekly)

mention of book (Karl Barth Society Newsletter)

"This new edition of §17 from Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics deserves wide attention, not only because it provides a fresh, updated translation of the famous section, but also because its readership has usually been limited to systematic theologians...What is striking about this text is how challenging Barth's theology continues to be. Many 'radical' theological thinkers and schools appear much less radical over time — sometimes because their insights find wide acceptance, but often simply because times change, leaving once-radical ideas out in the cold. What was once philosophically and intellectually scandalous is now simply uninteresting, and no longer a live option. One reason why Barth's theology remains as challenging as ever is because it persistently seeks its orientation in the perennial scandal of the gospel. Even for those who are unwilling to embrace the claims and implications of Barth's theory of religion, this new edition of his text will be eminently helpful in clarifying what his theory actually is."
Brian Gregor, Heythrop Journal

"The extensive introduction is an invaluable asset for classroom use of this text, clarifying the place of the seventeenth chapter within Barth's thought as a whole, as well as comparing his proposal to other theories of religion. In drawing these comparisons, Green not only points out significant parallels between Barth's prospective and those of such "canonical" theorists as Drukheim and Freud, but also raises important questions about the presuppositions that affect the shaping of such canons within religious studies departments." —Ian A. McFarland, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, April 2007 (Ian A. McFarland)

'Barth's account of religion in the first volume of the Church Dogmatics has been subject to all manner of misunderstanding. This superb new translation not only catches the vigour and nuance of Barth's prose, but also helps liberate the text from some conventional misperceptions. With its substantial and perceptive introduction, setting what Barth has to say in relation to contemporary study of the nature of religion, this fresh translation presents a very different Barth, of interest to theologians and theorists of religion alike.'
(Sanford Lakoff)

Karl Barth has a reputation for being the implacable foe of religion, which he is said to have rejected in the name of Christ. Garrett Green explodes this simplistic view. He gives us a Barth who is a shrewd, critically sympathetic interpreter of the human phenomenon of religion. Just as important, he gives us a Barth in English who sounds like Barth in German: intellectually probing, rhetorically dazzling, spiritually profound. This book should be required reading in courses on "religion and postmodernism." (Sanford Lakoff)

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