In the wake of KÃœng's monumental On Being a Christian comes this relatively minor collection of 13 short pieces, all...



In the wake of KÜng's monumental On Being a Christian comes this relatively minor collection of 13 short pieces, all previously published. KÜng may well be the most important Catholic theologian in the world, and the book displays his usual balanced liberal intelligence, but for various reasons it never quite gets off the ground. The main problem is structural: three of the pieces are transcribed conversations, and another seven or so are schematized notes: the former are too diffuse, the latter too concentrated and flatly functional. Which is not to deny the book some lively moments, especially in the dialogue with Rabbi Pinchas Lapide on the relationship between Jesus and Judaism. Perhaps the best thing, however, is the opener, ""On Being a Christian: Twenty Theses."" It boils down KÜng's earlier work to a bare minimum and offers an honest, non-technical, but intellectually solid approach to contemporary Christianity. ""The Christ,"" he writes, ""is no other than the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Neither priest nor political revolutionary, neither ascetic monk nor devout moralist, he is provocative on all fronts."" KÜng has a hard time, understandably, synthesizing traditional dogma and modern scriptural scholarship, but he makes a very respectable effort. Other articles deal with ecumenism, worship, confirmation, the position of women, etc.--disparate subjects linked together in KÜng's reformist vision. Currently, as KÜng himself admits, church reform is stagnating on all fronts, hence the ""signposts for the future,"" intended ""not mÉrely to show the direction but also to keep hope alive."" A sober, well-informed, but rather low-key performance.

Pub Date: March 24, 1978


Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1978