Sunday, April 04, 2010

This Side of the Church Dogmatics

Last Friday I completed my five month project of reading all 3,000 pages of Karl Barth's fourth volume of the Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Reconciliation (including the posthumously published fragments). As a commemoration, and as a way of incorporating my recent endeavours with Barth into the intended echoes of my blog title, I decided to quote a few of the places where the English translation came close to using the phrase "this side of sunday".

Thanks to a search of the digital Barth library, it turns out that though he never used my title exactly the phrase "this side of" does occur 67 times in the entirety of the Dogmatics. Given their nature, it works out well to post some on Easter weekend.

"He [Jesus] breathes on His disciples as the Resurrected and says: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." It is He Himself who does this, but He Himself on the far side and not on this side of that frontier; He Himself as the One who has crossed it, who in His death has fulfilled both His humiliation and His exaltation" (IV/2, 325-6).

"Where on this side of the resurrection of Jesus Christ are there genuine Christian actualisations in which the presence of the future of salvation which took place in the resurrection of Jesus Christ may be unequivocally seen and known and experienced in a way which is even approximately similar to that of the resurrection itself and is not exposed to some measure of haziness and doubt?" (IV/3.1, 322).

"The community is not the kingdom of God, nor will it ever be before the kingdom encounters it, and is revealed to it, in its glory at the end of all history. It prays for the coming of the kingdom, that encountering it in its true and perfect form it may be directly and universally and definitively revealed. But already on this side of the end, even in the form of the community which prays for its coming, the kingdom is really on earth and in time and history. The community would be nothing if it did not come from the kingdom and go towards it; if the kingdom were not present in this transitional movement" (IV/2, 656).

"He [the risen Jesus] encountered them formally (eating and drinking with them) in the same way as He had encountered them before, and as they for their part encountered Him, as living men in the flesh (eating and drinking with Him)--in a real encounter, themselves on the one side, alive but moving forward to death, and He on the other, alive from the dead, alive no more to die, alive eternally even now in time.

We can therefore say quite calmly--for this is the truth of the matter-- that they attested the fact that He made known to them this side of His (and their) death wholly in the light of the other side, and therefore that He made known to them the other side, His (and their) life beyond, wholly in terms of this side, even as spoken in His resurrection from the dead, as the Yes of God to Him (and therefore to them and to all men) concealed first under the No of His (and their) death. As the One who really encountered them in this sense He constituted Himself the basis of their faith and the theme and content of their witness" (IV/1, 352).

2 comments:

Trev said...

I'm gonna be honest, I read the last paragraph about ten times, and I still don't know what it's saying.

But I do like how you've taken his work and made it personal to your blog, that's really cool.

Jon Coutts said...

Yeah that is some awkward translating of a run on German sentence. I had to read it 5 or 6 times myself. Maybe if I arrange it this way:

"... the fact that He made this side of His (and their) death known to them wholly in the light of the other side,

and therefore that He made His (and their) life beyond known to them wholly in terms of this side,

even as spoken in His resurrection from the dead,

[which is] the Yes of God to Him (and therefore to them and to all men) concealed first under the No of His (and their) death."

Essentially, in His resurrection, Jesus paints our lives this side of death from the other side, and paints the other side of death for us on this side of it. The resurrection is the Yes of God to Jesus (and therefore all humanity) delivered to us first within the No of God to Jesus (and therefore all humanity in its rebellion against God). The Yes is submerged in the No spoken on the cross, and the No is overcome and submerged in the Yes of the resurrection.

I think it is a pretty rich sentence, so I included it. Thanks for taking the trouble with it!