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Systematic Theology [Hardcover]

Systematic Theology [Hardcover]

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Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 10.6" Width: 7.72" Height: 6.53"
Weight:   5.9 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2000
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802838472  
EAN  9780802838476  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This digital document is an article from First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, published by Institute on Religion and Public Life on May 1, 2000. The length of the article is 3059 words. The page length shown above is based on a typical 300-word page. The article is delivered in HTML format and is available in your Outline Digital Locker immediately after purchase. You can view it with any web browser.

Citation Details
Title: SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY: VOLUMES I & II.(Review) (book review)
Author: Wolfhart Pannenberg
Publication:First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life (Refereed)
Date: May 1, 2000
Publisher: Institute on Religion and Public Life
Page: 49

Article Type: Book Review

Distributed by Thomson Gale

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More About Wolfhart Pannenberg

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Wolfhart Pannenberg is Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Munich.

Wolfhart Pannenberg was born in 1928.

Wolfhart Pannenberg has published or released items in the following series...
  1. scm classics

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
One of the greates Christian thinkers of the 20th century  Jan 25, 2006
The monolithic learning displayed by Wolfhart Pannenberg is incredibly focused and lucid in this, the first volume of his systematic theology. Dealing heavily with prolegomenal issues (though not necessarily in the traditional sense) Pannenberg delves into the historical understandings of revelation, religion, God, The Trinity, and the attributes of God. Pannenberg is a highly original thinker who has not been conversed with in American theology as heavily as his genius may warrant, but who has nonetheless irrevocably changed the penumbra in which we perform the task of systematic, historical, and philosophical theology.

For anyone familiar with Pannenberg's other works, when he commits to explaning something, he is exhastively thorough (steeped especially in German and Lutheran thought, though the spectrum of his program is highly ecumenical.) The only complaint I may really levy against Pannenberg is the seeming absence of dialogue with Continental and Anglo-American postmoderns (e.g the Deconstructionism of Derrida, or the Post-Metaphysical thought of Marion, or others such as Wittgenstein, Foucoult, Ricouer, Fish, etc...) Nor does there seem to be any interaction with the so called "Yale," school--as tenuous as that marker may be-- with either Frei or Lindbeck, who, it would seem, would indeed present challenges to Pannenbergs eminantly historical/correspondance understanding of the biblical representation of and eschatologically oriented historical process, as opposed to Lindbeck's understanding of doctrine being a linguistic system, or Frei's now famous theory that the Bible is "history like," and should be read on the terms of the text itself rather than as historical/reconstructivist document.

Pannenberg however, does adopt and modify the program set up by Gadamer's "meta-critical" approach to hermeneutics, seeing all of human knowledge as finite and situated in the historical process, so that true understanding will only come with the Eschaton's consummation. This essential relationship between understanding part/whole, and the interplay (what some would call a modified version of the hermeneutical circle used for the process of history) between tradition interpreting current experience, which in turn sheds new light on past events, culminates in what Pannenberg sees a proleptic disclosure of the eschaton in Christ. So that Christ, as the future of the world, is already a power in the world shaping the future that He is. Rather that understanding the Word of God (as is traditional) as God's self-revelation (in the sense that most would take from Barth, of a God who is directly self-revealing or unfolding) the primary content of the Word is never God Himself, but always directly about us and our world, and then secondarily or indirectly about God. In Pannenberg's opinion this allows for the multiplicity of forms that revelation and the Word of God takes, but also for the integration of new experience, which Pannenberg adopts from a synthesis (and evolution) from both Hegel's understanding of History as a whole, and schliermacher's understanding that the contents of any finite experience are always "carved out of the infinite," so that meta-critically, religions see the implicity context of any given moment as it is in relation to the greater whole, the Universum or the Infinite. Here also, Pannenberg gives greater coherence to Descarte's ontologism of retroactive significance of our at first "nonthematic perception of the infinite, from which we understand all finite things through attributing limitation." Here, we do not fully initially perceive God as God, but as a nonthematic infinite that comprehends, unifies, and inter-relates the nexus of experience. Only later do we attribute the significance of God to this Universum, and thereby recognize that God was always present even if we did not know Him as such (e.g. when the Lord gives the divine name in exodus 3, the patriarch to whom he refers himself for his identity to moses knew God as El'Shaddai but not as YHWH) Hence the signifigance of this thought means that the Christian God, as the GOd of the heavens, is either the basic or foundational (perhaps maybe even more rightly transcendental) or a delusion. Here to we see hints of Pannenberg's deep involvment in Field Physics in his second volume, for Pannenberg beleives we cannot rightly understanding anything without reference to God.

In the last sections of the book, Pannenberg deals with the Trinity. He criticizes rightly the traditional Latin models, of attempting to derive the Trinity from God's unity as Spirit (e.g the tradition developed from Augustine's mens, notitia, and amore, as in Peter Lombard, even up to Barth who see's God as Revealer, Revealed, and Revelation) because this seems to collapse into Sabellianism as it assumes a single underlying subject. Nor does Richard of St. Victors adoption of Augustine's understand of a God who Loves Himself fully, where God-as-His-own-object exists aside God as the God who loves Himself, and where also the Love between them is given hypostatic and ontological personhood, because this again assumes the beginning (even if only logically rather than temporally) of a single subject, and the other two being secondary or suboordinate, thus falling into what has been traditionally called "suboordinationism."

Rather, as is well known, Pannenberg has a "ground up" approach that starts with Jesus' relation to the Father, where He submits to the Father and distinguishes Himself, allowing the Father to be God in Distinction to HImself. Just so (and of course I am butchering Pannenbergs brilliant scholarship here, so read the book if you aren't satisfied with my feeble attempt) God the Father is such everywhere only in relation to Jesus, so, borrowing from Athanasius, the Father would not be Father without the SOn. COnversly, of course, the SOn is not SOn without the Father as Father, so precisley in suboordinating himself (economically, of course) he allows the Father to be Fatherly, and so is Himself Son in this instance (which opens up quite a lot of possibilites for explaining how the kenosis operated.) When Christ was crucified, his identification of the sOn was jeopardized in this supposed defeat, and so, since the Father is God only in relation to this SOn, the Father's identity as king on earth was questioned, and so both are referred to the operations of the SPirit, who is precisely the power and person of their "future", who raises Christ and identifies him truly as Son, and so the Father truly as Father. Again, I am leaving out a lot of quality insight...

The final part of this book, I will leave you with, is the attributes of God intepreted through the interactions of the community of the Triune Godhead. These operations are explained through Pannenbergs adoption of the Hegelian "true infinite." In traditional terms the infinite was seen as that which was opposed to the finite (in neo-platonic via negationis and apophatic theology etc...) but in this way the infinite is defined against or seperated from the finite, and so is itself having boundaries and just so not finite. The true infinite transcends its own antithesis to the finite, comprehending the finite in its place and so being truly infinite. Thus, for example, the incarnation is an actualization of the infinity of God, where He is not merely "above" us, but greets us in our own condition (this is an important reaction to traditional theology which basis its attributes on causality rather than action. Just so, Pannenberg reacts to hyper-apophaticism saying that pure transcendence in terms of say, Paul Tillich's "Being itself," cannot exist, because transcendence itself expresses a relation, so a being that we know is totally unknown or beyong predication is a contradition...)

All in all, this is an enormous book that I recommend for anyone seeking to go beyond traditional expositions on theology.
A worthy read  Sep 2, 2001
I noticed that no one seemed to supply the table of contents for Vol. 1, and so I thought it would be helpful to provide that here. As an interesting side note, I've heard from some friends that Pannenberg is a wonderful preacher. I'd be curious to hear how he brings works like this to those entrusted to his care.
Not light reading, can be a bit dry, but worth it.
Chapter 1 The Truth of Christian Doctrine as the Theme of Systematic Theology
~The Truth of Dogma
~Dogmatics as Systematic Theology
~The Development and Problem of So-called Prolegomena to Dogmatics
~The Truth of Christian Doctrine as the Theme of Systematic Theology

Chapter 2 The Concept of God and the Question of Its Truth.
~The Word "God"
~Natural Knowledge of God and Natural Theology
~The Proofs of God and Philosophical Criticism of Natural Theology
~Theological Criticism of Natural Theology
~The "Natural" Knowledge of God

Chapter 3 The Reality of God and the Gods in the Experience of the Religions
~The Concept of Religion and Its Function in Theology
a. Religion and the Knowledge of God
b. The Concept of Religion, the Plurality of Relgions, and the "Absoluteness" of Christianity
~The Anthropological and Theological Nature of Religion
~The Question of the Truth of Religion and the History of Religion
~The Religious Relation

Chapter 4 The Revelation of God
~The Theological Function of the COncept of Revelation
~The Multiplicity of Biblical Ideas of Revelation
~The Function of the Concept of Revelation in the History of Theology
~Revelation as History and as Word of God

Chapter 5 The Trinitarian God
~The God of Jesus and the Beginnings of the Doctrine of the Trinity
~The Place of the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Dogmatic Structure and the Problem of Finding a Basis for Trinitarian Statements
~Distinction and Unity of the Divine Persons
a. The Revelation of God in Jesus Christ as the Starting Point, and the Traditional Terminology of the Doctrine of the Trinity
b. The Reciprocal Self-Distinction of Father, Son, and Spirit as the Concrete Form of Trinitarian Relations
c. Three Persons but only One God

Chapter 6 The Unity and Attributes of the Divine Essence
~The Majesty of God and the Task of Rational Discussion of Talk about God
~The Distinction between God's Essence and Existence
~God's Essence and Attributes and the Link between Them in Action
~God's Spirituality, Knowledge, and Will
~The Concept of Divine Actiona dnt eh Sturcture of the Doctrine of the Divine Attributes
~The Infinity of God: His Holiness, Eternity, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence
a. The Infinity and Holiness of God
b. The Eternity of God
c. The Omnipresence and Omnipotence of God
~The Love of God
a. Love and Trinity
b. Attributes of the Divine Love
c. The Unity of God
~~~~~Scripture References
And there is the Table of Contents, for those strange folks, like me, who enjoy seeing these things before we dive in.
A theologian's theology  May 10, 2001
I cannot even begin to hope to interact in detail with this magisterial work. One of the blurbs on the book jacket acclaims this work as significant as the 20th century works by Tillich, Barth and Rahner. It's true. If one wants more detail than I can provide in this review, I recommend the review by Christoph Schwobel in Modern Theologians or the respective secondary works by LeRon Shults or Stanely Grenz. Volume I (ISBN 0802836569) covers prolegomena, God and Trinity. Volume II (ISBN 0802837077) covers creation, christology, anthropology and some soteriology. Volume III (ISBN 0802837085) covers the rest of soteriology, pneumatology, ecclesiology and eschatology. First, very briefly, this work is not light reading. It is a theologian's theology, unmatched in its scientific approach. Although one may beg to differ on the details of his treatment, he has a breathtaking command of scripture, historical theology and the Continental philosophical tradition. The figures that populate these pages are Calvin, Barth, Ebeling, Wilckens, von Rad, Althaus, Krestschmar, Moltmann, Schlink, Origen, Aquinas, Scotus, Rahner, Augustine, Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel, Dilthey, Melancthon, and of course Luther. Second, more than any other contemporary theologian, P. has taken seriously the categories of history, anticipation, promise and hope without sacrificing a high standard for the pursuit of truth in the academic conversation. His basic reason for this is that the truth of the gospel claims the church so that she can witness to the world. However, truth is only grasped provisionally on this side of the eschaton, because only at the eschatological consummation is the full totality summed up and revealed (Dilthey). This entails an openness to public debate, not a retreat to argument by assertion or authority. In some ways, I would say that P. has recovered the original sense of auctoritas, which is the power to _persuade_. (Of course, it would take me too far afield to discuss why conservative Christians have emphasized authority in response to modernity). The critiques of P. have been the obverse of what his acclaim. First, the difficulty of the work has drawn the criticism that he is pastor-unfriendly, and that he has scholasticized the original excitement of 20th century theology. I can certainly sympathize with this; hence, I would recommend P's former student, Stanley Grenz (_Theology for the Community of God_). Be that as it may, the reception-history of many scholastic theologies have often been unfriendly at first, until people realize they need a rigorous treatment to solve theological problems they can't solve by themselves (e.g. Aquinas). Second, American reception of P. has been guarded, because of his unfriendliness toward liberation theology. Yet, as has been pointed out, this is because of his own experiences with Marxism from his roots in East Germany. However, to find out how he cashes out his theology into ethics, one has to look other parts of the P. corpus. Third, does his theology of history make God subject to his creation and evacuate divine simplicity? More specifically, is his own view of "divine infinity" as the sum of the transcendent attributes adequate to maintain the Creator-creature distinction? Fourth, how sucessful is his ecumenical ecclesiology in attempting to synthesize various positions normally seen as incompatible? E.g. his view of Eucharist as anticipation, anamenesis, epiclesis & trans-signification tries to sublate Anabaptist, Reformed and Catholic positions into a broadly Lutheran position. Fifth, his epistemology emphasizes the "not yet" of truth in tension with the "now." Hence, the noetic path to the ontic reality of Christ is the work of Christ in his death and resurrection (note the mating of historicist concerns with Melancthon's "we know Christ through his benefits"). Hence, his Christology proceeds "from below" by starting with the Christ-event to his person. This is the obverse of Karl Barth's Christology! It would take me too far afield to discuss his Christology, but this "apologetic" move raises the question of whether his dialogue with the world is prior or posterior to his own dogmatic decisions. All in all, I cannot recommend this ST highly enough. It is certainly stimulating reading, and will help theologians give an account for the reason for their hope.
A world leading theologian continues the systematic quest.  Oct 2, 1998
In this, the second of a three volume work in systematic theology, Pannenberg picks up where he left of from the first volume. In the last chapters of volume one he explicated the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, making this one of the themes of the whole system. In vol two he hones his skills to discuss the doctrines creation, anthropology, christology and salvation. In typical Pannenberg fashion, the topics are given exhaustive examiniation. In the chapters on creation and anthropology he examines the various subjects in light of modern science and philosophy, carefully decerning what is useful for Christian theology and what is not. The method for his chapters on christology begin with a discussion on the relation of anthropology and christology. This is in keeping with his earlier christological work Jesus-God and Man, which also supports a Christology from below. However, the systematic goes beyond his earlier monograph since it explicates the work of Jesus in light of the Doctrine of God and Salvation. It is an example, then, of from below to above. This second volume sets up for the third volume which will deal with the church and eschatology. But rest assured, the themes of the truth of Christian doctrine and the Trinty will be integrated into the next volume as it was in this one. This is not an easy read, it is very demanding. However, once the mountain is climbed the view is great.

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