In particular, the lecture addresses several ways in which Barth’s commentary is likely to evoke criticism from New Testament scholars. On the other hand, Tilling also sketches some things that New Testament scholars can learn from Barth about both Romans and doing theology.
In commenting on the “onesideness” inherent in Martin Luther’s law-gospel contrast as it applies in various biblical corpora, Karl Barth reflects:
In all these cases the failure to recognise the unity of Scripture involved sooner or later, and inevitably, a failure to recognise that it is Holy Scripture. For when we have such arbitrary preferences, we do not read even the parts which we prefer as Holy Scripture. The same is true of any preference, even the most detailed. This criterion ought to be applied to the most commonly accepted doctrine of the Church, even that which we find in the confessional documents. And particularly should it be applied to individual teachers, even the greatest of them. For fundamentally, whenever anything which is “written” is overlooked in the exposition of Scripture, whenever for the sake of the exposition we are forced to weaken or even omit what is written, there is always the possibility that the exposition has really missed the one thing which Scripture as a whole attests, even when it thinks that it has found it. (Church Dogmatics 1.2, 485; underlining added).
To be sure, it is important to be able to see a really viable argument through apparent difficulties. But, at the same time, when interpreting biblical literature, one must always be alert to a sense of the text’s starting to “present itself in all its otherness and thus assert its own truth against [our] own fore-meanings” (Gadamer, Truth and Method, 282).
At the Logos Academic Blog, Charles Helmer offers five areas of suggestions to help ease readers’ paths into Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics. As an overarching suggestion, Helmer recommends,
Armed with the following tips and a healthy dose of Spirit-inspired courage, the theologian can do no better than to sit down with one of Barth’s volumes, crack it open, and get to the hard yet rewarding work of reading.
For Helmer’s full discussion, see his original post at theLAB.
For today’s Advent freebie, Logos Bible Software has volume 2, part 1 of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics (The Doctrine of God).