John Updike and Karl Barth
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One of Updike's largest influences in his writing were the teachings of dialectical theologian Karl Barth. In order to really comprehend the purpose of Updike's writing it's important for the reader to understand how Barth's teachings provided him with such a profoundly, abiding understanding of God and his perception of reality.
Many people interpret Updike's work within the context of Christian existentialism, but Barth provided Updike with far more than context. His dialectical thinking served as the starting point for Updike's own dialectical vision, a vision that was in fact a complex matrix of ethical precepts, theological beliefs, and aesthetic principles that governed nearly all of his professional writing.