Widely regarded as the twentieth century's greatest theologian, Karl Barth refocused the task of Christian theology and demonstrated its relevance to every domain of human life, from the spiritual to the social to the political. It is precisely the broad sweep of Barth's theology that makes a book like The Great Passion
of such great value -- a succinct yet comprehensive introduction to Barth's entire theological program.
Of the many people who write on the life and thought of Karl Barth, Eberhard Busch is uniquely placed. A world-renowned expert on Barth's theology, he also served as Barth's personal assistant from 1965 to 1968. As Busch explains, one cannot fully understand Barth the theologian apart from understanding Barth the man. In this book he weaves doctrine and biography into a superb presentation of Barth's complete work.
Busch's purpose in this introduction is to guide readers through the main themes of the multivolume Church Dogmatics
against the horizon of our own times and problems. In ten sections Busch clearly explains Barth's views on all of the major subject areas of systematic theology: the nature of revelation, Israel and Christology, the Trinity and the doctrine of predestination, the "problem" of religion, gospel and law, creation, salvation, the Holy Spirit, ecclesiology, and eschatology.
A distinctive feature of the book is the way Busch lets Barth speak for himself, often through surprising quotations and paraphrases. Busch also shows how Barth's writing should be read as a dialogue, constantly and consciously engaging other voices past and present, both inside and outside the church. Most important, The Great Passion
demonstrates that Barth's thought is still remarkably helpful today.
"Drawing on his intimate knowledge of Karl Barth the theologian and Karl Barth the man and on a lifetime's pondering of Barth's work, Eberhard Busch offers a peerless introduction to the greatest of modern Protestant thinkers. With its comprehensive grasp of Barth's thought, its eye for the telling detail or phrase, and its sense of the deep intellectual and spiritual resources that Barth continues to offer to the church and to theology, this book will instruct and delight its readers."
"The grand cathedral of Karl Barth's theology always needs tour guides. This book is written by one of the best. Busch was Barth's last assistant and, as a distinguished scholar in his own right, he here presents the main contours of Barth's thought succinctly yet comprehensively."
John D. Godsey
"This book is a masterful presentation of Karl Barth's theology, from his Commentary on Romans through the Church Dogmatics, with an eye to its ongoing relevance for the church today. A magnificent achievement by a preeminent scholar!"
The Christian Century
"Busch subtly but forcefully responds to the major readings and critiques of Barth while presenting Barth's work as theologically vital for contemporary Christian concerns. . . Simply put, there may be no better book on Barth."
I. John Hesselink
"There are many excellent books on Karl Barth and his theology, but there is nothing quite like this analysis and survey of Barth's theology by his foremost interpreter. . . More than simply an 'introduction,' The Great Passion weaves the whole of Barth's theology together like a seamless garment."
"By giving readers so many of Barth's own words, along with his own gentle and intimate analysis, Busch has succeeded in the impossible: a presentation of Barth that is true to his original voice and accessible to all intelligent readers. . . In giving Barth's voice to readers, Busch has found his own."
"[The Great Passion] is the clearest, and the most accurate and vivid, overview of Barth's theology I have read so far. . . Busch does not merely summarize Barth but offers insight into his theology with prose that remains crisp even in translation."