Choice Quotations: Barth and Thurneysen
Revolutionary Theology in the Making: Barth-Thurneysen Correspondence, 1914-1925 (James D Smart, trans.; Richmond: John Knox Press, 1964).
“Both then and now this has been the source from which his [Barth’s] whole theology has come. It has grown out of the work of preaching, and it serves the proclamation of the church. And so it has remained. That the springs of the Bible should flow afresh in our time is the great concern that here is central, and indeed the sole concern. Barth is no abstract thinker, as will be very clear from these beginnings, and abstract here would mean liberated from the Scriptures. He does not project theological speculations out of his own mind; he is not concerned about a system; he is an he remains student and teacher of the Holy Scriptures. Whoever tries to understand him as other than this will not understand him at all.” (13; Thurneysen’s introduction)
“This way of his own that he was to go became quite clear in the second draft of Romans, written in the Safenwil period. The manuscript was completed as Karl Barth moved to Göttingen. In this work the last remnants of a kind of thinking that concerned itself with the evolution of the inner life were finally stripped away. Karl Barth had done with all idealistic, neo-Kantian concepts. The schema finite-infinite was no longer used to express the distinction between heaven and earth, between God and man. In general, he moved out from under the protection of any kind of world view. He refused from this time on to make use of any ontological substructure in order to lend security to his theological statements.” (16-17; Thurneysen’s introduction)
“All this having been said, there is still something that should be added…about the relation between Eduard Thurneysen and myself, both in scholarly and in personal matters…Let no man draw false conclusions from the quantitative preponderance of my letters over his…It was not true…that I was the active partner who did the giving and Thurneysen only the passive or receiving one. On the contrary he was the one who first put me on the trail of Blumhard and Kutter and then also of Dostoevsky…Which one then preceded the other? Which one followed the other? We were closely united.” (71-2; Barth’s introduction)