Karl Barth's Theological Exegesis: The Hermeneutical Principles of the Romerbrief Period

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Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Jun 1, 2004 - Religion - 312 pages
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Foreword by Bruce McCormack

For many students of Scripture and Christian theology, Karl Barth's break with liberalism is the most important event that has occurred in theology in over 200 years. In Karl Barth's Theological Exegesis Richard E. Burnett provides the first detailed look at this watershed event, showing how Barth read the Bible before and after his break with liberalism, how he came to read the Bible differently than most of his contemporaries, and why Barth's contribution is still significant today.

As Burnett explains, the crux of Barth's legacy is his abandonment of the hermeneutical tradition of Schleiermacher, which had had such a profound influence on Christian thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This hermeneutical tradition, which began with Herder and extended through Dilthey, Troeltsch, Wobbermin, Wernle, and Barth himself prior to 1915, is characterized by its attempt to integrate broad aspects of interpretation, to establish universally valid rules of interpretation on the basis of a general anthropology, and by its reliance on empathy.

Barth's discovery that "the being of God is the hermeneutical problem" implied that the object to be known should determine the way taken in knowing. This fundamental insight brought about a hermeneutical revolution that gave priority to content over method, to actual exegesis over hermeneutical theory. The development of Barth's new approach to Scripture is especially evident in his Römerbrief period, during which he developed a set of principles for properly reading Scripture. Burnett focuses on these principles, which have never been discussed at length or viewed specifically in relationship to Schleiermacher, and presents a study that challenges both "neo-orthodox" and "postmodern" readings of Barth.

This is a crucial piece of scholarship. Not only is it the first major book in English on Barth's hermeneutics, but it also employs pioneering research in Barth studies. Burnett includes in his discussion important material only recently discovered in Switzerland and made available here in English for the first time -- namely, six preface drafts that Barth wrote for his famous Romans commentary, which some regard as the greatest theological work of all time.

In making a major contribution to Barth studies, this volume will also inform scholars, pastors, and students whose interests range from modern Christian theology to the history of biblical interpretation.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
A Hermeneutical Manifesto Earths Hermeneutical Discovery in Context
13
A The Priority of Exegesis Over Hermeneutics
14
B Karl Barths Commitment to Theological Exegesis
23
C The PostWar Appraisal of Barths Hermeneutic
31
D Karl Barths Problem with The Hermeneutical Problem
35
Background to Barths Discovery
41
F From Special Hermeneutics to General Hermeneutics
50
1 Johann Gottfried von Herder
143
2 Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher
149
3 Wilhelm Dilthey
158
4 Ernst Troeltsch and Georg Wobbermin
166
5 The Young Karl Barth Pre1915
169
a Moder n Theology and Work in the Kingdom of God
171
b The Christian Faith and History
176
E A Hermeneutics of Love and Trust
184

G The School of the Holy Spirit
56
Sachlicher Inhaltlicher Wesentlicher
65
A Sachlicher Approach
70
C What Exactly Is Die Sache of the Bible?
74
D The Whole in Light of Its Parts and the Parts in Light of the Whole
78
E The Challenge of Interpreting What is There Dialectically
84
F Truth and Memory
86
Entering into the Meaning of the Bible
95
A A Scientific Approach to Exegesis
96
B A Living Context
100
C Active Participation
111
1 No Reading Out Without Reading In
112
2 Like Through Like
114
3 Until I Almost Forget That I Am Not the Author
117
With More Attention and Love
125
B The HistoricalPsychological Approach of Paul Wernle
128
C Beyond Religious Personality and Experience
134
D A Short History of the Empathetic Tradition of Interpretation
142
1 No Art of Empathy Can Offer the Slightest Substitute
185
2 A Relationship of Faithfulness
192
3 An Emergency Clause
197
An Excursus
207
a Love is a Gift a Miracle
208
b Love is Always for Another
210
c To Love is to Receive and to Be a Witness
213
The Meaning of the Bible Itself
221
B The Service of Historical Criticism
230
C The Art of Paraphrasing
240
D Calvin as Exemplar
250
Conclusion
255
The Historical Background of the Preface to the First Edition of Barths Romerbrief
265
The Preface Drafts to the First Edition of Earths Romerbrief
277
Bibliography
293
Index of Names
307
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About the author (2004)

Richard E. Burnett is associate professor of theology atErskine Theological Seminary, Due West, South Carolina. Hehas been a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) for morethan a decade and has served churches in Tennessee, NewJersey, and North Carolina. He recently edited A Cry ofNeed and of Joy: Confessing The Faith in a NewMillennium.

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