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Must-Have-Read: Karl Barth’s Römerbrief/De brief aan de Romeinen

30 Nov 2020

Autumn 2020
NB: Course taught in Dutch

When was the last time you read an academic book from cover to cover as a student? The Must-Have-Reads are devoted to reading classic/key texts from theology and religious studies from cover to cover and discuss them under supervision of a senior scholar in our field. The second edition of the NOSTER Must-Have-Reads is dedicated to Karl Barth’s influential Römerbrief. The course will be supervised by Professor em. dr. Rinse Reeling Brouwer. In four meetings the book will be read and discussed in depth. Participants will be asked to prepare and present various parts of the book and pose questions for discussion.

About Barth’s Römerbrief

Barth radically challenged not only Christian theology, but also modern views on religion in general. His re-reading of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans changed the theological and cultural landscapes like Augustine and Luther had done before him. Dutch atheist philosopher Ger Groot wrote that the second edition of Karl Barth’s Römerbrief (1922) today still ‘reads as a scandal as well as an overpowering experience’. Both traditional and modern religion run the risk of neglecting ‘the infinite qualitative difference between God and man’ (Kierkegaard). Barth did not want to understand Paul, but to understand with Paul – this was the only way to understand the Bible correctly. At the same time, he found in the expressionist painters ‘much that is related to that which we are seeking’, and he could declare with Franz Overbeck, the friend of the ‘anti-Christian’ philosopher Nietzsche, that ‘theology will not be re-established other than with boldness’. The book will be studied from a variety of disciplines within theology and religious studies.

Course objectives: The participant is able
– to place Barth’s Der Römerbrief against its historical, cultural, philosophical, and theological backgrounds;
– to give concrete examples of Barth’s use of exegesis and hermeneutics and his reinterpretation of concepts of religion.
Teaching methods: In four meetings the book will be discussed in depth. Participants will be asked to prepare and one part of the text each and to prepare questions for discussion.
Assessment methods: Active participation (minimum 75% viz. 3 out of 4 meetings) and completing the NOSTER Preparation, Reflection, and Assessment Form (to be provided).
Place: Online (Zoom)
Dates: First session on Monday 12 October 2020, 14:00-17:00. Please contact us at if you would like to register but this date or time is inconvenient to you. Dates of the remaining sessions will be defined by the lecturer after consulting the participants.
Credits: 2 EC / 56 hours
Participation and registration: If you wish to participate in this event, you will need to register before 30 September 2020. Once you have created a personal account on this website and have logged in, you can register for this Must-Have-Read by clicking the green ‘Register for this item’ button on the right. Please note that if due to unforeseen circumstances you are unable to attend, please inform the NOSTER office as soon as possible and before 1 October 2020 at the latest.
Costs: Participation is free for ReMA students and PhD candidates registered at NOSTER or at any other research school in the Humanities. For others, the fees are €100. For more information about membership and costs, click here (for ReMA students) or here (for PhD candidates).
Material: Participants are expected to purchase the the Dutch translation of the original book themselves: Karl Barth, De brief aan de Romeinen (Amsterdam: Boom Uitgevers 2008)


  • 12 Oct 2020 14:00 17:00
    hosted on zoom
  • 02 Nov 2020 14:00 17:00
    hosted on zoom
  • 16 Nov 2020 14:00 17:00
    hosted on zoom
  • 30 Nov 2020 14:00 17:00
    hosted on zoom
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