Introducing Christianity into Christendom: investigating the affinity between Søren Kierkegaard and the early thought of Karl Barth
Turchin, Sean A.
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The Swiss theologian Karl Barth’s (1886-1968) relation to the Danish thinker Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is one which has been touched upon repeatedly with regard to influence and parallels. It is an issue that has produced diverse conclusions ranging from that of T. F. Torrance, who believed Barth to have been influenced by Kierkegaard to an extent even unknown to himself, to the likes of Bruce McCormack who views the affinity as exaggerated. However, this intriguing relationship refuses a conclusive position regarding the extent to which Barth had been influenced by Kierkegaard; any attempt that seeks to resolve this question disregards both the complexity of Barth’s thought and the sheer range of thinkers who had contributed to his theological development. Moreover, Barth’s own comments on the influence of Kierkegaard on his development complicate the investigation into the relationship between the two. Whereas in 1922 Barth admits a dependence on Kierkegaard in the second edition of The Epistle to the Romans, by 1963 he has assumed a more cautious relation to Kierkegaard.