As anyone even moderately interested in Barthian studies knows, the field does not want for a variety of interpretations on the Church Dogmatics. Trinity and Election in Contemporary Theology edited by Michael T. Dempsey presents a number of interesting essays by thinkers such as Bruce McCormack, George Hunsinger, Paul Molnar, and Kevin Hector. Each stakes his claim, in one way or another, to be the rightful heir to Barth’s theology, and none fails to add a measure of entertainment of the entire edition. Paul Dafydd Jones takes a different tack, and in the process provides his own commentary on the volume.
Even as I advocate strenuously for my own reading of Barth, I must calmly admit that the Church Dogmatics is patient of multiple interpretations. Even as I stand in the so-called revisionist camp, I am obliged to admit the viability of “traditionalist” readings. The force of this obligation does not bespeak interpretative humility or charitableness on my part, nor is it symptomatic of poststructuralist convictions about textual indeterminacy. Quite the contrary: it is an obligation grounded in the belief that varied, even conflicting readings of Barth’s magnum opus are a function of the text itself, are a consequence of Barth’s distinctive approach to dogmatic work (p. 157).
I think the next question that arises from Jones’ suggestion is, “Did Barth intend his text to have this effect or was it a failure to communicate his position clearly?” I know several readers of this site will have an opinion.