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Barth, Israel and Jesus: Karl Barth's Theology of Israel

Lindsay, Mark R. (2007) Barth, Israel and Jesus: Karl Barth's Theology of Israel. Ashgate, Aldershot. 124pp. ISBN 978-0-7546-5087-4


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Karl Barth, the Swiss Reformed theologian and pastor who lived and worked during the tumultuous years of the two world wars, is routinely regarded as one of the greatest theologians since Aquinas and Luther. Rarely read in Australia, and even more rarely understood, he nonetheless has a great deal to say about Christian-Jewish relations. Now, following his earlier study of Karl Barth’s resistance to Nazi antisemitism (Covenanted Solidarity: The Theological Basis of Karl Barth’s Opposition to Nazi Antisemitism and the Holocaust, New York: Peter Lang, 2001), Melbourne-based theologian Mark Lindsay has produced the first in-depth analysis of Barth’s theology of Israel as it appears in Volume 4 of his monumental Church Dogmatics.

The attitude of Karl Barth to Israel and the Jews has long been the subject of heated controversy amongst both theologians and historians. The question that has so far predominated in the debate has been Barth’s attitude, both theologically and practically, towards the Jews during the period of the Third Reich and the Holocaust itself. But now Lindsay asks how, if at all, did Barth’s attitudes change in the post-war years? Did Barth’s own theologizing in the aftermath of the Shoah take that horrendous event into account? And if he did, what impact did that have on his understanding of the relationship between the Church and the Jewish people? These are the questions which Lindsay explores in this ground-breaking new book.

Lindsay argues that, while Barth regrettably failed to appreciate the significance of the Holocaust in the context of evil and theodicy, he nonetheless emerged as one of the Church’s loudest champions of the embryonic State of Israel in 1948 and beyond. Moreover, his political support for Israel was founded on an unalterable conviction that the Church and the Jewish people stand in covenantal unity. Indeed, Barth claimed that a Jewish voice was both a theological and ontological necessity in the newly-formed World Council of Churches.

Perhaps most surprisingly, for those who view Barth’s theology as one-dimensionally Christological, it is within Barth’s re-statement of Christology (‘The Doctrine of Reconciliation’, Church Dogmatics IV) that he most clearly articulates the reasons why Christians and Jews are so closely kindred. Significantly, he argues that this kinship remains in place, not just as a potentiality if and when individual Jews turn to Jesus, but as a fundamental theological truth that is irrespective of a Jew’s response to the Christian messiah. Thus, Barth finds himself logically compelled to repudiate the Church’s evangelistic missions to the Jews. They are, he insists, already within the covenant of faith and grace.

Lindsay remains convinced that in Karl Barth, the Church has an authoritative voice to which it can and should listen, and from whom it can learn some profound truths about the bond that continues to tie both Jews and Christians together.

Item Type: Books / Monographs
Additional Information: 'Details of the definitive version are available at http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=637&title_id=6805&edition_id=8084&calcTitle=1
Repository Version: Author's Final Manuscript
Keywords: Karl Barth, Israel, theology, Jesus, reconciliation, election, Christianity, Judaism, Holocaust
Fields of Research: 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: C - Systematic Theology
College/Association with University of Divinity: Other University of Divinity
Depositing User: Users 7 not found.
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2009 03:53
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2012 21:55
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/24

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