Supplementing Barth on Jews and Gender: Identifying God by Anagogy and the Spirit

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Eugene F. Rogers, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Karl Barth leaves room by his own principles for further, even different thinking about Jews and gender (and, as a corollary, about homosexuality) than he records in the Dogmatics. Now that Marquardt, Klappert, Sonderegger, Soulen, and others have offered sympathetic critiques from a generally Barthian point of view, and Eberhard Busch has exhaustively laid to rest any biographical questions of Barth’s relation to the Jewish people in his 1996 book, Unter dem Bogen des einen Bundes: Karl Barth und die Juden 1933–1945, the way lies open to carry forward Barth’s theological critique of nineteenth century theology and of abstraction further into the areas of Jews and gender, and to propose constructive pneumatological and exegetical supplements to his thinking. Barth’s thinking on women and men, like his thinking on Jews, labors, for all its promise in its time, under a defect he calls abstraction. Barth faulted Calvin for abstracting both elect human beings and the electing God from Jesus Christ, whom Barth called the elect human being and the electing God in one. Yet on the election of the community Barth did not entirely escape the abstraction. In the manner of Augustine’s Retractions, Barth wrote to Maruardt toward the end of his life that he had been so busy with (theological) Israel that he had had no time for the Jews. Does Barth, as Marquardt and Sonderegger suggest, throw up despite himself a conceptual screen onto which he at once projects an abstraction (“Israel”) and behind which he hides actual human beings (“the Jews”), a screen resistant to the blowing of the Spirit? Do the concepts “ man” and “ woman” form a similar conceptual screen, dating from Schleiermacher’s dialogue Christmas Eve, in which men and women (like Christians and Jews) have essentially different responses to the incarnation of Jesus Christ? Das ewig M??nnliche and das ewig Weibliche, inherited from German romanticism, see to run afoul of Barth’s trinitarian particularism, as does “ Israel”. Yet further application of Barth’s own principles, including more attention to the Spirit, leaves him more options in his treatment of Jews and gender, and richer exegesis – including exegesis by anagogy.

Additional Information

Modern Theology, 14(1), 43–81
Language: English
Date: 1998
Theology, Christianity, Karl Barth, Gender, Holy Spirit

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