Barth, Israel, and Jesus: Karl Barth's Theology of Israel by Mark R. Lindsay

By Mark R. Lindsay

The perspective of Karl Barth to Israel and the Jews has lengthy been the topic of heated controversy among historians and theologians. The query that has to this point predominated within the debate has been Barth's angle, either theologically and virtually, in the direction of the Jews through the interval of the 3rd Reich and the Holocaust itself. How, if in any respect, did Barth's attitudes switch within the post-war years? Did Barth's personal theologising within the aftermath of the Holocaust take that horrendous occasion into consideration in his later writings on Israel and the Jews? Mark Lindsay explores such questions via a deep attention of quantity 4 of Barth's "Church Dogmatics", the "Doctrine of Reconciliation".

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Kuschel & H. Häring (eds), Hans Küng: New Horizons for Faith and Thought, (New York: Continuum, 1993), 258. 24 Letter, Barth to Bethge, 22 May 1967. Letters, 1961–1968, ed. J. Fangmeier & H. Stoevesandt, trans. W. Bromiley, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1981), 250. 22 Barth, Israel, and Jesus the Declaration itself said nothing explicitly about the Jewish persecution. On the other hand, however much the Declaration was a product of Barth’s own hand it was, nonetheless, intended as a public statement from the wider Confessing Church.

Barth’s attitudes on this topic can in any case only be appreciated on the basis of his theology. Consequently Chapter Three will consider Barth’s attitude toward natural theology, as it confronted him in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, and the extent to which the Holocaust caused him to re-think his rejection of it. Chapter Four will extend this discussion by looking at Barth’s theological and (on this basis) political response to the creation of Israel in 1948. To what extent was Barth’s response to the Israeli State influenced by his understanding of the Shoah and, if it was in some measure influenced by it, does this signal a concession to natural theology?

Going even further, the national governing body of the United Church of Canada issued specific instructions in 1997 regarding the use of antisemitic texts within the Gospels. As with the official synodical and denominational statements of confession and repentance, none of these liturgical modifications is or has been sufficient in isolation. Moreover, in each case it is possible to highlight faults and shortcomings. This is probably inevitable inasmuch as the Churches will and should continue to speak as Christian Churches; they can hardly be faulted for wanting to stay true to their religious heritage.

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