A Map of Twentieth-Century Theology: Readings from Karl Barth to Radical Pluralism

A Map of Twentieth-Century Theology: Readings from Karl Barth to Radical Pluralism

A Map of Twentieth-Century Theology: Readings from Karl Barth to Radical Pluralism

A Map of Twentieth-Century Theology: Readings from Karl Barth to Radical Pluralism


The only one-volume anthology of twentieth-century theology.

Indispensable to understanding the advent and import of today's radically pluralistic scene, this unique historical anthology presents thirty-seven signal readings from key theologians of this century.

Outstanding interpreters of these figures and their generative ideas, Braaten and Jenson offer solid and sympathetic introductions and a clear scheme, a roadmap that makes sense of the fundamental and formative questions, concerns, "schools," and movements that have animated the theological enterprise in this explosive century from 1900 right up to the threshold of contemporary currents.


A Map of Twentieth-Century Theology charts the roads that have led to the present situation of theology. It offers readings that cover the most significant developments in twentieth-century theology up to the emergence of the current radical pluralism. The readings are selected from the formative writings of the principal theologians of the period. At each branch in a road, the next group of selections is introduced by an essay that interprets the basic themes and trends represented in it.

Every teacher of theology knows how difficult it is to introduce students to the fundamental theological events and ideas that have shaped our present situation. This volume places in the hands of students readings that contain the generative ideas of the leading schools of thought, from the crisis in theology in the first decades of the century to the rise of the radical pluralism that is the distinguishing feature of present-day theology. Without some road map, contemporary students often find it difficult to make meaningful contact with the theological giants of the era just passed. They tend to become dependent on sweeping generalizations and second-hand slogans. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that many truly historic documents are out of print.

Where there is selection there must be criteria. The editors disclaim any intentional ideological control over the choices made. The criteria have instead been pedagogical: to show how we have arrived where we are. The question was always: What must be included to enable necessary knowledge of our immediate theological history? To display the chain of links between the present and the past? Our aim has been to counteract the amnesia that enervates so much contemporary theology.

The introductory essays explain the reasons for the individual selections. That there is a predominance of German theologians cannot be helped; it simply is the ways things unfolded until the center of gravity of creative theology shifted to the United States. This shift brought with it the explosion of pluralism that characterizes the present situation. The readings break off at the threshold of popular contemporary currents: liberationism, feminism, multiculturalism, environmentalism, deconstructionism, neo-liberalism, etc. Important individual German and American theologians of the just-ending generation are also omitted. We break off where we do because these movements and thinkers are readily accessible through current publications and are commonly taught in theological seminaries and departments of religion.

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