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On Being a Christian Paperback – February 2, 1984


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Image; Reprint edition (February 2, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038519286X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385192866
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

From the Publisher

One of this century's most prominent and outspoken theologians affirms the vitality and uniqueness of Christianity by tracing it back to the reality of the historical Christ.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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He is an outstanding writer.
Charles N. Bell
He suggests that the resurrection cannot be "proved by historical arguments... It is itself the object of faith."
Steven H Propp
When this book first appeared in the 1970s, I hesitated to read it.
M. L. Asselin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Theodore G. Mihran on June 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
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.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Charles N. Bell on June 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
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.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
Where Lewis is obviously easier to read, Kung is obviously better informed, more aware, in closer contact with the world religions, ideaologies, and faiths of the planet. Where Lewis is simple and clear, Kung is complex and multiform like the two thousand year old topic he dissects and explores is. Where Lewis is thoroughly right in his little picture of god and jesus and the church, Kung is deeply commited to dialogue, to learning, to challenging and confronting the orthodox and all the so called "pious" theologians and apologetes who are always so "right".
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
Kung writes very well and made me think a great deal. He opened my mind to seeing christianity in ways I hadn't thought of before. I liked this book a great deal-the author comes across as a deeply caring man of great humanity. While I am still an atheist, this book made me stop and think very respectfully about what was written. Convincing? Not quite. Moving? Yes.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. L. Asselin VINE VOICE on November 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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