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A Study of Heinrich Ott's Theological Development: His Hermeneutical and Ontological Program.

Heinrich Ott, featured in the 1964 inaugural volume of Marty and Peerman's New Theology series but little remarked upon since in North America, is here given new attention and thoughtful appraisal. O'Connell introduces the reader to Ott's unusual project of conjoining the Christological commitments of his Basel predecessor, Karl Barth, with the hermeutical interests of Rudolf Bultmann, and that with the help of the later Heidegger's "subsequent break-through to being" (52).

Of special interest is O.'s assembly of the reactions of Barth, Bultmann, and their followers (Herman Diem, Gerhard Noller, cited as conservative Barthians; and Ernst Fuchs, Gerhard Ebeling and Eberhard Jungel, associated with Bultmann) to Ott's "both/and" approach. To one degree or another, the program is put in question, with exception regularly taken to Ott's inordinate reliance on Heidegger. Allusion is made to Barth's poignant letter to Gollwitzer upon Ott's appointment as Barth's successor, and analysis is made of Bultmann's critical correspondence with Ott. O. believes Ott's case could be strengthened by greater clarity on the relation of theology to philosophy, stressing the latter's subsidiary and eclectic use of the same.

O. shows the apologetic intent that pervades Ott's work. E.g., from Ott's Dogmatik im Dialog: "Cross and resurrection are structures which are also to be found outside the Church and its explicit profession, in human life experience" (186). The parallel with Rahner is apparent, except that Ott would substitute an "anonymous Christ" for Rahner's anonymous Christianity.

Much of the material referred to in this work (that by Ott and by his respondents) is from the 1960s and 1970s and therefore is something of a period piece. Surely Ott's issues persist, but how they are related to the current postmodern theological conversation needs to be shown more clearly than is done here.
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Author:Fackre, Gabriel
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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