Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Life before the last things:The Dostoyevsky-reception in the early works of Karl Barth and Eduard

Author: HONG Liang, Assitant Professor, China Graduate School of Theology, Adjunct Researcher, Hong Kong Institute of Sino-Christian Studies.



This is a summary of the author`s doctoral dissertation published in 2016, in which Eduard Thurneysen’s impact on Karl Barth’s second revision of his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (1922) is fully explored. The author looked through the correspondences from 1915 to 1923 between Barth and Eduard Thurneysen, who was a proofreader of the Barth’s manuscript of the commentary as well as the author of Dostoyevsky. Moreover, Barth`s assertion in the “Preface” of 1922 version that Dostoyevsky influenced both him and Thurneysen is in fact a retrospective reconstruction because it does not correspond to the historical facts reflected by their correspondences. The author discovers that Barth and Thurneysen are not "passive" receptors of Dostoyevsky, instead, they have projected their eschatological reading of “life before the last things” onto Dostoevsky’s characters in order to express their own understanding of eschatology. Thirdly, the author affirms Thurneysen’s original theoretical contribution to the beginning of dialectical theology, namely the concept of perspectivism presented in his book Dostoyevsky. In the 20th century theological historiography, the eschatology in Barth’s Romans has been read as a “theory of catastrophe”, and the dialectic theology corrected this reading. It also points to the implied theological anthropology in the eschatological thinking of the early Barth and Thurneysen.



Dialectical Theology; Life before the last things; Perspectivism; Theology of Life; Sovereignty of God


Full Text (International Version):



Full Text (Simplified Chinese Version):