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Barth For Armchair Theologians Paperback – Aug 3 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Pre (Jan. 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664227341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664227340
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #623,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I recently finished reading (this morning) the book Karl Barth for Armchair Theologians by John R. Franke and was very impressed. Karl Barth was the pre-eminent protestant theologian of the early 20th century (and potentially the early 21st century). Franke's book offers an impressive and very thorough introduction to Barth and his theology in a way that one would think impossible across a mere 170 pages.

Barth is notable for the complexity of his thought which arises in part from a dilectical approach to theology. Franke very clearly and lucidly navigates the reader through many of the complexities and past some of the simplistic and one-sided interpretations of Barth (Neo-Orthodox versus Post-Modern) to a holistic/comprehensive view.

I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to develop a more nuanced theology, most especially as a primer for those who are considering reading Barth (or have already done so). An excellent read!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa54f5414) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa54ffed0) out of 5 stars Daunted by Barth? Here's Help. Aug. 12 2006
By A. C. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Reading Karl Barth's work can be a daunting task. With this work Dr. Franke has provided interested learners with a both a framework for understanding and a introduction to the thinking of a theologian widely recognized as one of the leading Christian theologians in Church history. That Franke could do so in a mere 166 pages is impressive.

The book itself is part biography, part historical (Barth's) theology. Franke demonstrates how Barth's theologizing developed under the influence of his personal and world events. From Barth's early family life and academic training to his pastoral and educational work, his maturing thought is illuminated and comprehended as an interaction with culture, life events, and especially his increasing reliance on the Word of God.

Discussion of Barth's magnum opus, Church Dogmatics (CD), does not take up the majority of this book, though it is covered in the longest chapter. Personally, I would have liked to have had two to three times the material discussing CD that Dr. Franke gives. However, what is presented is sufficient to assist the reader in entering into useful dialogue with Barth. I found the insight of making conscious use of the divisions (paragraphs and subsections) of CD most welcome.

Dr. Franke's work also described important works by other Barth scholars; his synopsis of George Hunsinger's & Bruce McCormack's works provide frames of reference and mindset that are crucial, I believe (I've read those works cited), to accurately comprehended Barth's writings.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa57442a0) out of 5 stars Fantastic and Entertaining! July 17 2008
By Brett A. Stroud - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Karl Barth is probably among the three most important theologians in Protestant history (along with John Calvin and Friedrich Schleiermacher). His insightful and monstrous Church Dogmatics is a daunting task for any reader (I'm just started on it myself), and he certainly has his own method of organizing and talking about theology.

John Franke, with an engaging and lucid style, tells the interesting story of the life of Karl Barth while explaining his theological development into liberalism and out of it. He concludes with a large chapter on the outline of the Church Dogmatics (which includes tips on how to approach the colossal work) and a chapter on the present and future prospects for engagement with Barth's unique "dialectical" theology.

I highly recommend this book to all those interested in 20th century theology and especially to those like myself interested in reading and understanding Barth.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5705660) out of 5 stars Readable, informative and fun! May 5 2009
By Fred D. Mueller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Who would ever describe a book about a theologian as fun? Yet that is just what this is. The drawings by Ron Hill are delightful and thought provoking. Just looking at them and trying to understand the artist's intentions was a delight.

This is a fine introduction to Barth's life and thought. Dr. Franke traces Barth's life and maps out his journey as one of the premier theologians of modern times. Franke's introduction to Church Dogmatics is a very helpful guide to that massive work.

I am a pastor who tries to read broadly. These little concise "Armchair" books have proven to be a welcome half-way point between deep study and reading for entertainment. They take on deep and solemn subjects but are so well written and easily grasped as to give one an evening of truly relaxing and enjoyable reading. You can finish and have had the pleasure of a good book and feel also that you have been "working," by studying theology! A great combination!

I need to pass these books along to the laity of the church and see how easy they are to digest for those without a formal theological education. About this series I say, "Keep them coming!"
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa570554c) out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Barth May 31 2012
By Riyawzidawn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In reading I gained a sincere appreciation for the man. I find myself disagreeing with some of his views but, judging from (theologically) where he started, I found his journey of faith rather remarkable. During his career, German theological liberalism was nearing its zenith and, whatever quibbles I may (and certainly do) have with some of his theology, he was certainly swimming upstream. His very public chastising of his theological colleagues over their support for Hitler, and his subsequent authoring of the Barmen Declaration (a very orthodox work) were acts of significant theological and personal courage.
If this book is indicative of the series, I'll be reading more of these "for Armchair Theologians" books.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa533d4b0) out of 5 stars Barth for ArmChair Theologians July 4 2009
By Timothy P. Monaghan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a great over view of one of Barth's CDs before you tackle the volume yourself, but really Webster's intro book is the best