Image and Hope: John Calvin and Karl Barth on Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting

By Yaroslav Viazovski

An study of the understanding of the soul in Christian theology, comparing the body-soul dualism in Calvin’s writings with Barth’s more holistic understanding.

ISBN: 9780227176047


Developments in biblical studies, neurosciences, and Christian philosophy of mind force theologians to reconsider the traditional concept of the immortal soul. At the same time, the concept itself tends to create axiological dualism between the body and the soul that in turn may lead to insufficient appreciation of the physical life in this world. A more holistic approach to the ontology of human beings is required. The aim of this study is to analyse the function of the concept of the soul in the dualistic anthropology of John Calvin and to compare it to the holistic anthropology of Karl Barth in order to answer the question of whether the transition from one to the other is possible without the loss of the functions fulfilled by the soul.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Yaroslav Viazovski (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is also the author of Karl Barth’s Doubts about John Calvin’s Assurance (2009).


Foreword by Paul Helm

Introduction: Wholeness and Hope

Part I: Ontological Anthropology of John Calvin
1. The Image of God
2. The Knowledge of God
3. Immortality and the Intermediate State
4. The Resurrection and the Ultimate Hope

Part II: Transition from Calvin to Barth
5. The New Epistemology and New Ontology of Karl Barth

Part III: Ontological Anthropology of Karl Barth
6. A New Anthropological Method
7. The Relational Image of God
8. Man as Soul and Body
9. Time, Death, and Hope

Part IV: Comparison of Ontological Anthropologies of John Calvin and Karl Barth
10. Towards Wholeness and Hope



Endorsements and Reviews

This book is a worthwhile contribution to the understanding of both Calvin and Barth. It is also valuable for those with an interest in issues such as the relation between soul and body, the immortality of the soul, metaphysical and axiological dualism, and the image of God. Well worth reading.
Anthony N.S. Lane, Professor of Historical Theology, London School of Theology

Viazovski explains why Christian theology risks losing its soul if it fails to understand the human soul. Carefully listening to Calvin and Barth, he opposes dualistic tendencies in theology and concludes that Jesus Christ and not the soul is the bridge to God and the ground of hope in life everlasting.
Henk van den Belt, Professor of Reformed Theology, University of Groningen

Viazovski has written a well-conceived book. He clearly states his thesis in the opening chapter and then presses his argument throughout the entire work with compelling force. He is to be commended for writing such a lucid, well-argued book. What is more, his book is thoughtprovoking to the point of displacing old paradigms. The work is, therefore, foundational and I believe others will build upon his scholarly insights.
Jeffrey A. Stivason, Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Theology, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Image and Hope is significant in filling a gap in Barthian scholarship. … [Viazovski’s] clarification of Barth’s view of anthropology is helpful, but his explanation of the dialectician’s perspective on hope, resurrection, and eternal life is indispensible. … [Viazovski’s] work helps to recognize Barth and Calvin in the historical continuum of Protestantism, without elevating them to dogma. For these reasons, Image and Hope deserves attention for those considering the Reformed tradition.
Joshua Kira, in Theologische Literaturzeitung, Vol 142, Issue 12

Viazovski is very thorough and meticulous in making sure the goal of proving his thesis is never in doubt. This book was definitely a worthwhile read.
Charles Kim, in Theological Book Review, Vol 27, No 2

One is rewarded not only with a deeper understanding of two of the most influential theologians, but also with an opportunity to clarify one’s own position on some important theological issues.
Philip Winn, in Equinox Online