Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics: the new 31-volume edition

I was delighted to find that the new edition of Barth’s Church Dogmatics arrived at our college library today. T&T Clark have done a splendid job on this new edition – the production quality really exceeded my expectations. The 31 volumes come in two handsome burgundy slipcases; the covers are bright and eye-catching but still sober and tasteful; the typeset is crisp and attractive; the original pagination is included in the margins; and I was especially pleased to see that the printers (at a time when the use of cheap paper is becoming all but ubiquitous) have used a very nice high-grade paper.

Kudos to T&T Clark for this very fine new edition! If you missed my review of the digitised Logos edition, you can also read it here. The print edition is available from Amazon, or (massively discounted) from Christianbook.com. So don’t just sit there: go and ask your librarian (or your spouse) to order a set! 


35 Comments:

Dan Anderson said...

christianbook.com are charging $140 for postage - which makes the price at bookdepository.com the cheaper option (they have free delivery worldwide).
Looks nice doesn't it?

Ben Myers said...

Thanks Dan, I've added a link to bookdepository.com.

stormface said...

Must... resist... urge...

Terry Wright said...

I'd love to get this, but I also value my marriage...

Evan said...

Just got mine in the mail yesterday... my lovely wife pre-ordered for cheap at Eisenbrauns as a Christmas gift. They are very nice looking. I told my 1 year old that if she touched it (she likes to flip through my theology books... her favorite book is Lonergan's Method in Theology for some reason) she'd be in major trouble. ;)

roger flyer said...

I'll swap you boxed set of Zeppelin LP's for it. I'm exchanging bad habits.

Tyler said...

I received mine about two weeks ago and I've been tearing through them ever since.

A few things, though: they left out all the prefaces (some of the most entertaining parts of the Dogmatics, in my opinion). This is absolutely inexcusable and immensely ridiculous. I cannot express how stupid this struck me as. Why?? How can this be a "study edition" if the editors are doing their part to extract the work from its historical context??? Kudos to whoever made that decision!

Anyway, the Index is off at certain points as well and every so often, there will be a random sentence in Latin that's not translated. To make up for it, in other areas the editors will provide a separate footnote for each occurrance of the same greek or latin word on the same page. After the fifth time of being reminded what "dokimazo" means, it starts to feel condescending.

I'm glad to have them, but after forking over so much money, I kind of expected a more polished product.

Rob said...

I'm curious as to whether the bloggers here would recommend (to a seminary student who can't get both) this new edition in paperback, or the logos computer version?

Ben Myers said...

Rob, the best edition (by far) is Alexander Street's Barth database. This is too expensive for individual users, but if you can get your library to subscribe, it's the Barth edition par excellence.

Ben Myers said...

Tyler, I'm utterly gobsmacked to hear your comment about the prefaces. Did they really omit all the prefaces? Is it possible? Was this merely an accident — surely no one would do it on purpose? Surely everyone knows that the prefaces are the best part of the whole work? (Derrida somewhere argues that much of Hegel's work is a "play of prefaces"; it's tempting to think of Barth in the same way.)

And in some cases (if I can exaggerate just a little), the preface has made a greater impact than the work itself. Just think of all those books on Barth which are essentially nothing more or less than interpretations of his acerbic phrase (in the preface to I/1) "the invention of antichrist".

I'm still reeling with disbelief at the thought of Barth sine praefatio. Does anyone else know about this strange and unnatural omission? How? Why?

Dan Morehead said...

Even though I'm in the middle of a dissertation on Barth, I just don't think I can bring myself to buy it. Maybe as a present when I finish. Then I'll just need to train a monkey to transfer my scribbles from my copies to the new ones. After all that, I'd still prefer hardcovers.

J. R. Miller said...

Rob, I am using the Logos electronic edition for my ongoing series "One Year With Karl Barth" and it is wonderful!

Tyler, the electronic edition seems to have all the preface included in each volume (usually both the Editor's Preface and the original Preface).

Tyler said...

Ben,

Believe it.

They need to reissue a new edition with some opening credits set to Mexican mariachi music and flashing colors, detailing how those responsible for the unspeakable omissions have been canned.

They should send everyone who has purchased this edition a shiny green volume to accompany the index entitled "Prefaces, sorry about that."

Unfortunately, it's true. It's rumored that the last stage of the editing process was handled by American Apparel models. And starving 13-year-olds ate the prefaces.

J. R. Miller said...

Rob, I o have a short review of the Electronic edition in the first post of my series, if that helps any.

Christian said...

Wow, no prefaces? That is strange. I've been using the electronic version for about the past 6-7 months. I bought my copy after reading Ben's review. It's a very helpful study aid, though all of my parenthetical remarks and notes still need to be transferred from my hard copies. It's a great program, and I already had a free copy of Luther's works so it was a nice combo. No prefaces? Really? Hm . . .

Tyler said...

I would really love to be proven wrong on this one!

Ben Myers said...

Tyler, I had to see it with my own eyes to believe it: you're right, not a single preface anywhere in sight. Amazing!

In general, I think it was a good idea to remove the Torrance/Bromiley prefaces, since these provide an unnecessary (and potentially misleading) interpretive lens for the volumes. But to remove Barth's own prefaces: that beggars belief! I'd still love to believe that it was an accident: is it possible that they intended only to remove the Torrance/Bromiley prefaces, and removed Barth's prefaces as well by mistake?

In any case Tyler, I quite like your suggestion: the publishers should release a slim supplementary volume containing all 13 prefaces. (When you purchase the set, you're invited to register for updates and additions — so this would provide an avenue for distributing a supplementary volume. Even a supplementary e-book would be better than nothing.)

I mentioned above that Barth's prefaces were sometimes more influential than the work itself — and I heard an anecdote about this just today. The brilliant Paul scholar Beverly Gaventa is here in Sydney at the moment. She told me about her first class on Romans with J. Louis Martyn, where one of the set texts was Barth's commentary on Romans. She said that, at the time, she couldn't grasp anything in Barth's commentary: but reading his prefaces was life-changing!

Anonymous said...

No! I had been holding off on investing in a copy of the CDs until this new edition had become available.

Is the omission of the prefaces a deal breaker?

Would it be better to purchase the earlier edition?

Ron

Ben Myers said...

Hi Ron: personally, I don't think the prefaces should be a deal breaker. This set is still a great improvement over the earlier edition: the typescript and overall aesthetics of these volumes make them much more readable than the earlier edition. And I'm sure the division into 31 small books will also make it more readable — the sheer size of those earlier volumes can be a psychological obstacle. And don't forget that all the Greek, Latin and French passages are translated in this new edition, which makes it far more useable and accessible.

So in my opinion this is still a greatly improved edition, in terms of both aesthetics and general usefulness. But I still hope the publishers somehow make amends for the omission of the prefaces. (And of course, as a last resort you could always just insert a photocopy of the relevant preface into the front of each volume.)

gbroughto said...

Hi Ben,

I tried ordering at Book depository an hour or so ago, through your link, with an advertised price of about 292 pounds. When I went through the order process, there was some kind of error and I had to begin again, this time the price was OVER 400 pounds (415 I think). I'd be interested if others have experienced this - is this some kind of gimmick? Anyway, I sent off an email about what happened... I guess I will wait and hear, but just thought I should let you know, as you may want to take down the link if it is a sham...

Ben Myers said...

Ah, that's a shame about Book Depository. They probably realised how heavy the package is and then adjusted the price to absorb the ("free") shipping costs. Anyway, I've removed the link to this store.

Christianbook.com is simply being realistic when they add $140 for international shipping — it would be hard to ship it to Australia for less than that. In spite of this shipping cost, the Christianbook.com price is still a very good deal (and still much cheaper than Amazon, etc).

J. R. Miller said...

For the price, it seems hard to beat the electronic edition.

You can search the entire text for any key words or phrases and in an instant you can flip to any passage with a single click.

All the materials are included.

The Greek and Latin are still there, but you can hover over the words to read the translation.

Shipping is just $5 American (I think)

And, finally, if you have a laptop, you can read Barth anywhere you travel (like I will on my coming 5 hour trip to Hawaii)

PS
Oh, and if you are a first time buyer from Logos, I should note, there is no cost for the Windows software ($60 for the Mac engine). And if you do buy it and mention my name they will give me a store credit for $100. :-)

Bengt Rasmusson said...

I got this answer from Tom Kraft at T&T Clark International:

"The main reason we did not include the prefaces in the new Study Edition was the fact that they were mainly dealing with out of date information. We checked Barth's prefaces as well as those of the various editors and translators and then decided not to include them. Also, they were not part of the material sent to us by the Princeton Barth Centre - which formed the basis of this new edition.

However, we will discuss this with the editors from Princeton and see what we can do. One possibility is to make them available together with the indexed for the individual fascicles online."

Strange decision, indeed. Anyway, nice to see the new editions of Barth's works during the last years! Believe it or not, I was actually the first in the world to have a digitised version of Die Kirchliche Dogmatik ... yes, I know, "first" is a very dubious theological category.... Anyway, I scanned the 10000 pages and produced a fulltext database on cd-rom back in 1997. I sold the digital rights back to TVZ in 2001.

stormface said...

That's a shame. I will think about picking these up in the next couple of years IF they append them somehow with prefaces (an additional book would be a great way to rectify this!).

Ben Myers said...

Thanks for that info, Bengt. And I'm impressed to hear that you the world's first Barth-digitiser: you initiated a grand tradition!

Tom Kraft said...

Hi all,

I see that Bengt has posted my comment here already - thanks!

I am surprised to hear that the Logos version does have the prefaces - can you confirm this? As far as I was aware they were working from the same material as we.

roger flyer said...

I don't think I should ever read Church Dogmatics in my lifetime, but I would buy the Prefaces.

Danny said...

Mr. Kraft,

I was seriously considering buying the new edition of the Dogmatics, but it doesn't seem worth the $ sans prefaces. Is there going to be an extra volume of prefaces published to go along with everything?

Andy Rowell said...

Thomas Kraft, Associate Publisher - Theology (UK), responded about the prefaces at the T&T Clark blog:
May 26, 2009 Church Dogmatics Study Edition: Prefaces

J. R. Miller said...

Did Barth promote a universalist "religion" in CD?

I sure could use some help figuring out this passage from Book One of CD.

Input, insights, and links to good articles is most appreciated!

zviri said...

Sorry to ask this question, but I do not know how to get my answer otherwise: Is it possible to get the email address of Bengt Rasmusson who reacted earlier on in this blog? Thanks, Kees. Email address: machteldvandam@zonnet.nl

Anonymous said...

Just starting reading Church Dogmatics 2 weeks ago after receiving the 31 vol set. CBD had a great price on their Friday specials: $299.00. It will take me 3 or more years to finish reading a round 10 pages a day I hope.

Anonymous said...

Christianbook.com/academic is selling the original 14 vol set of the Church Dogmatics for $99.99

http://tiny.cc/OYBpV

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone, just found out that Christianbook.com/academic is going to be selling the 14 vol set for $99.99. It was posted on their blog...

Christianbook.com/academicblog

David Bell said...

One of my favourite Barth quotes..."The church is our common attempt to remember our God"
The Barth set from christianbook.com is a fantastic offer. It is due for release in 4 days time.

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