1st Edition

Barth on the Descent into Hell
God, Atonement and the Christian Life

ISBN 9781138251694
Published October 27, 2017 by Routledge
196 Pages

USD $59.95

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Book Description

The Christian confession that Jesus Christ descended into hell has been variously misunderstood or simply neglected by the Church and dogmatic theology. This work is a significant retort to dogmatic forgetfulness and ecclesial misunderstanding. It succeeds in doing so by offering a close reading and critical analysis of Karl Barth's treatment of the descent into hell and its relation to his extraordinary theology of the atonement. The reach of David Lauber's work is extended by placing Barth in conversation with Hans Urs von Balthasar's innovative theology of Holy Saturday. In revealing and unexpected ways, this book casts light upon the ecumenical breadth of Barth's theology. It is a valuable interpretation of significant facets of Barth's doctrine of God, reflection upon the passion of Jesus Christ, and ethics. In addition, Lauber offers a constructive theological proposal for how the descent into hell affects the theological interpretation of Scripture, the trinitarian being and activity of God, and the non-violent and authentic shape of Christian life and witness before our enemies.

Table of Contents

Contents: Karl Barth: Jesus Christ's death in God-Abandonment as the Descent into Hell: Barth's reflection on the Apostles' creed; Barth and the reformed tradition; The significance of Jesus Christ's death as grounded in the doctrine of God; Jesus Christ dies the second death; The death of Jesus Christ as the experience of hell in Barth's 'Doctrine of Reconciliation' - Church Dogmatics IV. Hans Urs Von Balthasar and a Theology of Holy Saturday: Adrienne von Speyr's gift and Heart of the World; The shape of Balthasar's soteriology; Balthasar's dramatic soteriology; The descent into hell. The Biblical Character of the Descent into Hell: A biblical basis for the descent into hell?; Scripture and Barth's interpretation of the descent into hell; Scripture and Balthasar's interpretation of the descent into hell; Interpretative and theological decisions; Barth and Balthasar on the construction of atonement doctrine; Balthasar's extension of the biblical narrative; Conclusion: the descent into hell and scripture. The Descent into Hell and the Trinity: Jürgen Moltmann's theology of the cross and the descent into hell; Interpretations of Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane; Jesus Christ's death and descent into hell and change in the life of God; The descent into hell and God's love; The descent into hell and the immanent and economic Trinity; The descent into hell and divine suffering; Alan Lewis' Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday; Conclusion: the descent into hell and the Trinity. The Descent into Hell and Discipleship: God's love as non-violent enemy-love and the shape of discipleship; The descent into hell and the ethic of non-violent enemy-love; Conclusion: the descent into hell, Christian love and discipleship. Bibliography; Index.

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David Lauber is Assistant Professor of Theology at Wheaton College, Illinois, USA.


'... the clearest exposition of Barth's theology of the atonement currently available in English...' Reviews in Religion and Theology ’One mark of a good book is the protracted discussion it catalyzes with its principals and its topic. In this regard Lauber's book is exemplary.’ Toronto Journal of Theology ’...David Lauber displays with peerless competence in this brilliant study, the doctrine of Christ's descent into hell forms an essential cornerstone (not the only one, to be sure) of the Barthian edifice...[David Lauber] has chosen one of the most crucial themes of theology for his brief, and one of the twentieth century's most important advocates of the doctrine of the Descent to boot, he has also set forth his exposition so clearly that his readers learn an amazing amount about Barth...’ Modern Theology ’Lauber's book is a gift to both church and academy, and a reminder that as the faith of the church seeks understanding, Karl Barth still has much to offer us in our quest.’ Bulletin of the Institute for Reformed Theology