Barth on the Descent into Hell: God, Atonement and the Christian Life, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Barth on the Descent into Hell

God, Atonement and the Christian Life, 1st Edition

By David Lauber


196 pages

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Paperback: 9781138251694
pub: 2017-10-27
Hardback: 9780754633419
pub: 2004-03-28
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315096612
pub: 2017-09-29
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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.


'… 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

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.

About the Author

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

About the Series

Barth Studies

The work of Barth is central to the history of modern western theology and remains a major voice in contemporary constructive theology. His writings have been the subject of intensive scrutiny and re-evaluation over the past two decades, notably on the part of English-language Barth scholars who have often been at the forefront of fresh interpretation and creative appropriation of his theology. Study of Barth, both by graduate students and by established scholars, is a significant enterprise; literature on him and conferences devoted to his work abound; the Karl Barth Archive in Switzerland and the Center for Barth Studies at Princeton give institutional profile to these interests. Barth's work is also considered by many to be a significant resource for the intellectual life of the churches.

Drawing from the wide pool of Barth scholarship, and including translations of Barth's works, this series aims to function as a means by which writing on Barth, of the highest scholarly calibre, can find publication. The series builds upon and furthers the interest in Barth's work in the theological academy and the church.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General