Hans Frei (1922-1988) was perhaps the leading Anselmian theologian of his generation. His influence is extensive in contemporary theology, and his work marks the beginning of a decisive shift in biblical interpretation. Reading Faithfully is a special collection in two volumes that includes a wide range of his letters, lectures, book reviews and other items, many of them not previously available in print. Analytical and perceptive, Frei’s writings expands his arguments about the meaning and truth of scriptural narrative, distinguishing his ideas from other forms of narrative or story theology as well as exploring the kinds of political theology consistent with his typological imagination.
This is an invaluable resource that provides new insights into the nature and implications of Frei’s work. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the development of religious thought and understanding.
Volume 1: Writings from the Archives: Theology and Hermeneutics
Foreword by George Hunsinger
Approximate Chronological Listing of Pieces
Part I: Letters
1. Letter to Dr. Larry K. Nelson, August 14, 1973
2. Letter to Elsabeth S. Hilke, August 5, 1974
3. Letter to D. Cameron Murchison Jr., Late 1974
4. Letter to Leander Keck, May 22, 1975
5. Letter to John Woolverton, July 7, 1975
6. Letter to Professor Ray L. Hart, January 12, 1976
7. Letter to William Placher, March 24, 1976
8. Letter to Van Harvey, June 22, 1976
9. Letter to Dennis Nineham, July 1, 1976
10. Letter to John Woolverton, April 16, 1978
11. Letter to Julian Hartt, August 19, 1981
12. Letter to Gary Comstock, November 5, 1984
13. Letter to William Placher, November 3, 1986
Part II: Hermeneutics
1. Scripture as Realistic Narrative
2. Review of James Barr, The Bible in the Modern World
3. On Interpreting the Christian Story
4. Historical Reference and the Gospels
5. The Specificity of Reference
Part III: Theology
1. The Place of Theology in the Liberal Arts Curriculum
2. Saint, Sinner, and Pilgrim
3. Is Religious Sensibility Accessible to Study?
4. History, Salvation-History, and Typology
5. God’s Patience and Our Work
6. Reinhold Niebuhr, Where Are You Now That We Need You?
7. Of the Going Down of Christ into Hell
8. Of the Resurrection of Christ
9. Of the Holy Ghost
10. On Priesthood, the Past, and Peace
Afterword: Hans Frei, Scripture, Reading, and the Rhetoric of Theology, by John Webster
Volume 2: Writings from the Archives: Frei’s Theological Background
1. Lessing and the Religious Use of Irony
2. Kant and the Transcendence of Rationalism and Religion
3. Niebuhr’s Theological Background
4. The Theology of H. Richard Niebuhr
5. Analogy and the Spirit in the Theology of Karl Barth
6. German Theology: Transcendence and Secularity
Endorsements and Reviews
Imagine the excitement that would accompany the discovery of Brahm’s sketches for a fifth symphony, or unpublished letters from Einstein on the theory of relativity. These pieces provide something similar: Hans Frei’s emerging thinking about biblical narrativity and theology. This volume is further evidence of the seminal nature and continuing significance of Frei’s close theologising.
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Hans Frei was probably the greatest American theologian of the twentieth century, and his thought has if anything grown in importance since then. This superbly edited collection of mostly unpublished material distils key points of his thinking on major issues of Christian truth, biblical interpretation, and how best to do theology. It is rigorous, persuasive, and above all wise, and succeeds remarkably in being able at the same time not only to introduce Frei attractively to a new generation but also to draw deeper those who know him well.
David F. Ford, Cambridge University