The more you read, the more you realize what you do not know. And one of those things that I do not know enough about is Barth. I started reading Saving Karl Barth: Hans Urs von Bathasar’s Preoccupation by Stephen Long a while ago and I gave up around the 60% mark primarily because I just did not have enough background on either one to really understand what I was reading. I have since read one of von Balthasar’s books and dabbled in two others and attempted a Barth reader that was so badly converted to ebook that it was unreadable.
IVP’s An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth by David Guretzki was a good introduction to Barth. I still want to read a good biography and at least one of his books or maybe a reader before I attempt Saving Karl Barth again.
An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth is probably going to be read by students most often. It opens with why Barth is important before giving a rough biographical sketch. But most of the book is either a tour of Barth’s theology or a tour of Barth’s books. This is a guide to help you discover Barth for yourself, primarily by helping the reader to see how to approach Barth’s own work and read it yourself.
Barth wrote a lot. Even if you exclude Church Dogmatics, which you can’t, Barth has a lot of books, published lectures and other works. An Explores Guide has 10 suggested readings outside of Church Dogmatics that are mostly short suggestions (sermons, lectures, articles).
And then there are three chapters on Church Dogmatics, a basic introduction, a summary and a three level reading plan, depending on the interest level and time available.
An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth concludes with more notes for future study. Not everyone is looking for an introduction quite like this. But this was helpful for me to get an overview and while I am not planning on reading Church Dogmatics anytime soon, I do want to find a reader or one of his shorter books to read sometime next year.
If you are someone that is looking to follow the reading plan, I would suggest picking up the paperback edition of An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth. The kindle edition is formatted well. But the paperback just will be easier to follow along with the reading plan.