A Year with Barth and Black Theologies
Fantastic article. Looking forward to future installments!
Thanks for this blog post. I love the questions you are asking, and I am looking forward to the way you will make connections between Barth's theology and that of Cone.
I studied at Union Theological Seminary in the early 70s when Jim Cone was just getting started, having earned a PhD with a dissertation on Barth. He had a deeply respectful relationship with his senior colleague Paul Lehmann, who not only knew Barth personally but was deeply familiar with Barth’s work (in German) and as a Reformed thinker had the same essential orientation as that of Barth. Lehmann, it must be said, spent a lot more energy trying to engage the very young Cone that Cone did with him. In Lehmann’s book of that era, "The Transfiguration of Politics: The Presence and Power of Jesus of Nazareth in and Over Human Affairs" (note that subtitle!) he deeply engages the Black Power movement of the time as well as the emerging challenges from Black intellectuals.
Like his close friend Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lehmann respected and appreciated the Black church. Lehmann’s florid, elliptical style of writing was always a problem, with its dense sentences and abstruse references, but anyone perusing "Transfiguration" will find a rich lode of engagement with Black intellectual thought as well as the reality of the Black struggle on the ground. It would be a serious omission to overlook Lehmann. He had a small but passionate following among his students, Nancy Duff and others who continue to bring his work forward.