Monday 23 October 2006

The best book on Wolfhart Pannenberg

I love Wolfhart Pannenberg’s theology. Depending on which of his books I’m reading at the time, I find him either baffling, irritating or breathtaking – or occasionally all three at once. In my view, Pannenberg’s finest work is his great book on christology, Jesus – God and Man (1964). And I also think his Systematic Theology is without question the best Protestant dogmatics since Karl Barth.

It always amazes me that there isn’t more secondary literature on Pannenberg (and although I respect Moltmann, I find it incomprehensible that far more is written about him than about Pannenberg!). Still, if you’re looking for an exceptionally good study – yes, the best study – of Pannenberg’s theology, then here it is:

Christiaan Mostert, God and the Future: Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Eschatological Doctrine of God (London: T&T Clark, 2002).

I bought a copy of this only recently, and I realised at once that it far surpasses most of the other secondary literature on Pannenberg – it’s a brilliant exposition of some of the most profound and most significant aspects of Pannenberg’s thought (and of course I’m also happy to report that the author is a fellow Aussie). Anyway, if you want to read just one book about Pannenberg’s theology, then God and the Future is definitely the one to get your hands on.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for drawing my attention to this, Ben. And I've just found a copy for less than £6 - not bad!

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

My teacher, E. Frank Tupper, wrote one of the first and best studies of Pannenberg's early work, The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg (Westminster, 1973). He always wondered why more was written about Moltmann than Pannenberg, too.

I think the explanation is fairly easy: It's always very easy to connect Moltmann's work to contemporary social justice issues. Pannenberg, however, leaves any such relationship purely implicit.

Also, Pannenberg's biblical work, while certainly present and important, is not as close to the surface in much of his work as Moltmann's is. Moltmann, as much as Barth, is in clear conversation at all times with biblical texts--and, unlike Barth, is obvious in his conversation with critical biblical scholars. Pannenberg has such conversations (e.g., with Gerhard von Rad), but they don't seem to play as central a role.

Anonymous said...

Ben: I might add to your list of secondary works on Pannenberg the one by one of my former students, F. Leron Shults, now Professor of Systematic Theology at Agder University in Norway, The Postfoundationalist Task of Theology: Wolfhart Pannenberg and the New Theological Rationality (Eerdmans, 1999). Pannenberg wrote the forward!

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add this anecdote about Pannenberg, who was visiting Fuller Seminary in the early 1970s. Dan Fuller, then Dean, was his host and was driving him to his home to stay overnight. As they approached the house, Dan pushed a button to activate the electric garage door openner--something Pannenberg had never heard of. Pannenberg said, "how did that happen?" and Dan looked at him and said, 'Heilsgeschichte!' It apparently was not a conversion esperience!

tchittom said...

I recently bought Stan Grenz's survey of Pannenberg's theology. Has anyone read it? Is it decent? I'm surprised that it hasn't already been mentioned and am wondering if, perhaps, I've purchased a dud.

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

No, Thom, the Grenz work is excellent. His was the first attempt to interpret the whole of Pannenberg's work since Tupper. Shults and Mostert are more recent works and only deal with certain aspects of Pannenberg's thought.

Ben Myers said...

Yes, the Grenz and Shults books are both excellent -- the Grenz was actually released in a new edition last year, and I'll be posting a review of it here some time soon.

Ray, I love that Heilsgeschichte story too!

Anonymous said...

Man...I wish there was a good webpage with an introduction to Pannenberg, his theology, and so on. I've looked over at and the links there.

Too bad the books is $33 - I would buy it, but I gotta have money for gas!

Anonymous said...

Johan, there's a cheaper copy for sale here ($21).

Anonymous said...

Hi Ben,

You're right in your assessment that Pannenberg's theology is more sophisticated than Moltmann. I even think that Pannenberg is a better theologian. There are times when I got tired reading Moltmann's many reference with hope and eschatology that sometimes I think those references are unnecessary. But why more and more theologians are engaged with Moltmann than Pannenberg is a good question to explore.

My friend and I pursue theological studies two years ago. We agree that he would study Pannenberg and me, Moltmann. But after just a few months he gave up because I think he could not engage Pannenberg's theology in relation to our particular context. However, on the other hand, the more I read Moltmann the more I found out that his theology has something very important to the developing theology in our context.

Moltmann's theology has the “ability” to dialogue with other theologies than any other contemporary theologians (as as I am is concerned and I maybe wrong). Some scholars would claim that his Theology of Hope is the forerunner of theologies of liberations. And I agree that after 40 years of publication the book is still relevant in our context. He is able to dialogue with third world theolgy with TH and Crucified God. In fact, the theology of struggle that is developing here have taken a lot from Moltmann's works. His pneumatology is able to dialogue with Pentecostal/Charismatic issues worldwide. Although, it does not resolve the problem, he paved the way for a theological discussions regarding healings, speaking in tounges and other Pentecostal issues that were making a problem in many denominations. Also, his theology is able to dialogue with many issues in practical theology.

His relational trinity in TTKG makes sense to us than any other books because of our cultural values with regards to relationship. This work is something we can understand. His panentheism i believe speaks volume to people with animistic culture. And many more... I guess

As Christians in Asia and the third world continue to outnumber Christians in North America and Europe... I guess Moltmann's theology will become more and more relevant.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anonymous!!

tchittom said...

Joey, you have to come see us at (thanks, Ben, for letting me plug.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Thom,

I'm already a member since last year and I actually posted 3 or four times. It is an excellent list.


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