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On Being a Christian [Paperback]

By Hans Kung (Author) & Edward Quinn (Translator)
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Item description for On Being a Christian by Hans Kung & Edward Quinn...

A distinguished and sometimes controversial Catholic theologian describes all aspects of Christian living in the last half of the twentieth century

Publishers Description

An international bestseller by one of this century's most prominent theologians, "On Being a Christian" is a work of exhaustive scholarship, born of the author's passionate belief in Jesus Christ as the center of existence. Hans Kung here assesses the impact of other world religions, humanism, science, technology, and political revolutions; and sifting through the theological controversies within the Christian community itself, he affirms the vitality and uniqueness of Christianity by tracing it back to its roots -- the reality of the historical Christ.
But more than history or theology, "On Being a Christian" reexamines what it means to be a Christian today: the role of Christian ethics in a social and political context, the relationship between Christians and Jews, the organization of a community of believers, and practical suggestions for dealing with personal crises of faith. This Image Books edition will reach even larger segments of the population for whom the book was written. Kung defines his audience as those: who do not believe, but nevertheless seriously inquire; who did believe, but are not satisfied with their unbelief; who do believe, but feel insecure in their faith; who are at a loss, between belief and unbelief; who are skeptical, both about their convictions and about their doubts; who are Christians and atheists, Gnostics and agnostics, pietists and positivists, lukewarm and zealous Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox.
A landmark work, for both scholars and educated laity, "On Being a Christian" has become a small "Summa" of the Christian faith. "This is not another gospel," Kung contends, "but the same ancient gospel rediscovered for today "

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Image
Pages   720
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.02" Height: 1.78"
Weight:   2.37 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 19, 1984
Publisher   Image
ISBN  038519286X  
ISBN13  9780385192866  

Availability  55 units.
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More About Hans Kung & Edward Quinn

Hans Kung Hans Küng, (born March 19, 1928, Sursee, Switz.), Swiss Roman Catholic theologian whose controversial liberal views led to his censorship by the Vatican in 1979.

Küng studied at Gregorian University in Rome and obtained a doctorate in theology from the Catholic Institute at the Sorbonne in 1957. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1954, and he taught at the University of Münster in West Germany (1959–60) and at the University of Tübingen (1960–96), where he also directed the Institute for Ecumenical Research from 1963. In 1962 he was named by Pope John XXIII a peritus (theological consultant) for the second Vatican Council.

Küng’s prolific writings questioned the formulation of such traditional church doctrine as papal infallibility, the divinity of Christ, and teachings about the Virgin Mary. In 1979 a Vatican censure that banned his teaching as a Catholic theologian provoked international controversy, and in 1980 a settlement was reached at Tübingen that allowed him to teach under secular rather than Catholic auspices. His more recent research has focused on interreligious cooperation and the creation of a global ethic. His publications include Rechtfertigung: Die Lehre Karl Barths und eine Katholische Besinnung (1957; Justification: The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection), Konzil und Wiedervereinigung (1960; The Council, Reform, and Reunion), Die Kirche (1967; The Church), Unfehlbar? (1970; Infallible?), Christ sein (1974; On Being a Christian), Existiert Gott? (1978; Does God Exist?), and Ewiges Leben? (1982; Eternal Life?).

Hans Kung has an academic affiliation as follows - Global Ethics Foundation.

Hans Kung has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Continuum Icons
  2. Modern Library Chronicles

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Reviews - What do customers think about On Being a Christian?

A Tour de Force on the Essence of Christianity  Nov 5, 2006
At 602 pages of text, ON BEING A CHRISTIAN is the definition of a tome. The style is no walk in the park: even taking into account that it's a translation from German, some of the passages are quite dense. The bottom line is, though, that it's worth the effort.

When this book first appeared in the 1970s, I hesitated to read it. Aside from the intimidating length of the work, I had the thought--if Kung is on the margins of Catholic theology, then what impact could his work have? Suffice it to say that I was neither a theologian nor a very astute young Catholic. However that may be, I was surprised to find that, except, perhaps, for matters pertaining to Church governance, Kung is hardly a leftist firebrand or a Bishop John Shelby Spong-like skeptic; Kung, essentially, is a fairly orthodox theologian, it seems to me. As a committed Catholic Christian, he's devoted, though, to scraping away the barnacles that have adhered to the mother ship of Roman Catholicism over the past two millennia.

Kung does not shy away from the difficult issues: in the course of ON BEING A CHRISTIAN, he tackles thorny issues like Karl Rahner's "Anonymous Christian" concept, the Resurrection, the Trinity, liberation theology, and a Christian's response to war, among many, many problems. I was often in awe of Kung's deft handling of these issues, but other times felt somewhat lost in the theological discourse. For instance, Kung accepts the "reality" of the Resurrection, but rejects the theological and historical necessity of the Empty Tomb. He claims that the disciples could not just have had some sort of self-realized epiphany after the death of Jesus; for the Christian movement to have taken off as it did, it must have been because the disciples of Jesus had a real experience of Jesus' resurrection. But since Kung also rejects the notion that a Christian must accept the violation of the physical laws of the universe, is he trying to have it both ways, or is it that his argument is simply beyond me? For Kung, what is *real* about the Resurrection?

Kung's root answer to what Christianity is about is given early on in the book: "Christianity exists only where the memory of Jesus Christ is activated in theory and practice" (p. 126). For Kung, Jesus is "in person the living, archetypal embodiment of his cause" (p. 545). One who accepts this Jesus in his or her life receives the call to be radically human. What ultimately counts in life is not accomplishments (not that accomplishments are bad), but trust (faith) in the Christ Jesus. In fact, Kung demonstrates from the opening section on "The Challenge of Modern Humanisms" throughout the course of this book, that the Christian as true humanist is the principle that underlies his concept of Christianity.

For a long time many people have encouraged me to read ON BEING A CHRISTIAN. I am heartily glad that I have finally followed their advice. I know that I will be returning to this book in the years ahead to revisit Kung's keen insights into what being a Christian truly means. In these days, when Christianity has been degraded and sold out as a tool of politicians, this is a book whose message should be read all the more to call us to metanoia, a change of heart.
Never judge a book by its author  Sep 24, 2005
A friend lent me a copy, and I was so fascinated that when I had to return it I immediately bought my own copy. It is a very useful book for anyone with a serious interest in the purpose of life. 50 years ago, Hans Küng was a zealous young thologian, who, with others such as Joseph Ratzinger, or greater fame now, opened the eyes, at least temporarily, of many of the bishops at Vatican II Ecumenical Council to the vast store of truth to be found OUTSIDE the Catholic church.
His reputation as a formost theologian kept many of us away from his works, thinking they would be as difficult to follow as so many papal encyclicals.
Not so! Lucidity is his watchword, although he certainly gets prolix at times. The first time through, when he had outlined his proposed method of reasoning, I would skip through to the guts of his argument. Second time through, I'm taking it all in, as far as I can.
Thoroughly honest, revealing, radical and inspiring.  Jun 27, 2005
In my 42-year career as a scientist I scarcely had time for religious education, meditation and inspiration. In my so-far 12 years of retirement I have been led to broadening my knowledge and appreciation of religion -- man's attempt to find spiritual meaning in the universe, a universe whose physical side man has so successfully investigated and revealed through science

The figure of Jesus has always been of utmost interest to me, particularly his human side -- and now of late, his spiritual significance. Jesus is without a doubt the most influential person who ever lived in Western society, witness the countless buildings and institutions that exist today in his wake. And yet it is extremely difficult to separate the mythical from the factual aspects of his life and death. This is where this book and a previous one I reviewed, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" by mathematical physicist John Davidson, have come to my sorely-needed rescue.

Kung's book is a thorough, brilliant, and ultimately convincing attempt to get at the heart of the motivation and end result of Jesus' short life on earth. I was led to Kung by a sermon I heard a number of years ago at a Unitarian Church in Ft. Collins, CO in which an excerpt from Kung's book described the difference between the end of Jesus' life and the deaths of other religious leaders. That sermon was powerful to me then, and still speaks to me today. It pointed out with Kung that whereas others died in old age, surrounded by their disciples and wives after satisfactorily accomplishing their mission, Jesus' early death was stark, brutal, and utterly cheerless. He was tortured, deserted by his followers -- seemingly even deserted by the personal God of whom he so ardently and sincerely spoke. Is this seeming abandonment at a young age by man and God the ultimate source of his meaning to mankind?

A respected Catholic theologian, Kung is unremittingly honest in his attempt to get at the truth of the times. In contrast to Schweitzer's somewhat impersonal theological style in "A Quest for the Historical Jesus", Kung's style results in a much more human narrative, drawing you convincingly into the times and mind of Jesus. The book is almost equally divided into two parts, half before and half after the death of Jesus. I must admit that I have read only the first half; the revelation of the meaning of Jesus' life is yet to be given by Kung. But even at this point I cannot resist encouraging others to pick up this amazingly insightful and thoughtful volume -- to peruse it, to underline and to savor it.

Man has learned to fathom many of the secrets of the universe, but they are limited to its non-spiritual aspects. This knowledge can lead either to exaltation and benefit from man's influence on earth, or to our death and destruction. The ultimate outcome of our reign on earth will be determined by spiritual aspects of our search for knowledge that so far, and maybe even in the long run, are inaccessible to science. They are immensely important to understand; this search is urgent for all to participate in. Kung's book, as well as Davidson's, provide significant steps to broadening our grasp of knowledge in this direction.

A mainstay in any library  Jun 24, 2004
This is an excellent book. I first read it 10 or more years ago. My copy is now marked over, underlined, written in and I keep returning to it like an old friend. It is next to my bed and next to my bible, my favorite book. He is an outstanding writer. The book is for believers and nonbelievers. His section on the cross of Christ is one that inspires me each time I read it "The cross of Christ....becomes an appeal to renounce a life steeped in selfishness....It means a brave life, undertaken by innumberable people, without fear even in the face of fatal risks, through struggle, suffering, death, in firm trust and hope in the goal of true freedom, love, humanity, eternal life. The offense, the sheer scandal, was turned into an amazing experience of salvation, the way of the cross into a possible way of life"
Read it. You will enjoy it.
Thorough, Comprehensive, Relevant, Excellent!  Aug 28, 2000
Hans Kung writes as one thoroughly committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, unlike some Christian writers, Kung writes with an intellectual depth and honesty that is refreshing. Kung does not shy away from bringing the Christian message into a living dialogue with modern scholarship, the other world religions, and the real challenges facing the human race today. I take issue with his sometimes-unconditional acceptance of higher Biblical criticism. However, as a Christian, I contend that Kung provides a true, relevant, and comprehensive analysis of the Christian faith for our time. A must-read for any serious theologian!

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