Interpreting Barth on Election: Section 32 Thesis

I've been working for a while on what it means that election is "the sum of the gospel" for Barth. Obviously, McCormack has his own thorough exposition of this, which I'm going to attempt to undermine at length because I think there's a major difference between "sum of the gospel" and "source and ground of dogmatics". Even to the extent that election is that, the focus on election and reconciliation/atonement (especially by attention to "Barth's mature Christology" as though CD IV supplanted prior volumes) always seems to me to short-circuit reading the other loci in their own rights, making just too much of a linear system out of Barth's loci communes.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start by doing some subtle work, translating first of all. What does Barth say it means, for the doctrine of election to be the sum of the gospel?

KD II.2, 1: »Die Erwählungslehre ist die Summe des Evangeliums, weil dies das Beste ist, was je gesagt und gehört werden kann: daß Gott den Menschen wählt und also auch für ihn der in Freiheit Liebende ist. Sie ist in der Erkenntnis Jesu Christi begründet, weil dieser der erwählende Gott und der erwählte Mensch in Einem ist. Sie gehört darum zur Lehre von Gott, weil Gott, indem er den Menschen wählt, nicht nur über diesen, sondern in ursprünglicher Weise über sich selbst bestimmt. Ihre Funktion besteht in der grundlegenden Bezeugung der ewigen, freien und beständigen Gnade als des Anfanges aller Wege und Werke Gottes.«

Frost: "The doctrine of election is the sum of the gospel because this is the best thing that can be said and heard: that God chooses people and so is for them the one who loves in freedom. It is grounded in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, because this one is both the electing God and the elect human being. It belongs therefore to the doctrine of God, because by choosing people God does not merely decide about them; in an original sense God decides about Godself. Its function is to provide foundational witness to eternal, free, and enduring grace as the beginning of all the ways and deeds of God."

CD II.2, 3: "The doctrine of election is the sum of the Gospel because of all words that can be said or heard it is the best: that God elects man; that God is for man too the One who loves in freedom. It is grounded in the knowledge of Jesus Christ because He is both the electing God and elected man in One. It is part of the doctrine of God because originally God's election of man is a predestination not merely of man but of Himself. Its function is to bear basic testimony to eternal, free and unchanging grace as the beginning of all the ways and works of God."

Do you see the differences? Will you minimize them, or will you ask whether they mean something important? Phrasing matters, rhetoric matters, and translation that shifts those shifts meaning. What do these differences of language mean for you? What do you see here?


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