Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Paul Jones on Christology in Barth’s “CD” 3.2

Paul Dafydd Jones, The Humanity of Christ: Christology in Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics (London: T&T Clark, 2008): 118-9.
“In spite of its often-startling conceptual richness and brilliance (I think here especially of §44.3 and §47), there are moments in this part volume at which Barth’s ‘christological concentration’ drifts from its moorings, caught in the swell of philosophical, social-scientific and cultural discourses. The programmatic christological sections are sometimes curiously brief, even out of joint with the anthropological reflections that follow. Consequently, Barth’s most vital insights, which surely not drowned out by waves of appropriated resources, sometimes grasp for air. Barth himself suffers the fault he finds with Schleiermacher’s Glaubenslehre: unduly preoccupied by the intellectual trends of his day, ad hoc annexations of philosophical and cultural claims distract from his engagement with scriptural particulars.”
This is quite the claim. My independent knowledge of CD 3.4 is not sufficient for passing any kind of judgment on Jones’ reading here. Perhaps some of you, gentle readers, have an informed opinion on the matter?


Chris TerryNelson said...

I think it's interesting that Barth doesn't really have anything to say about 3.4 in its preface, but immediately rushes to talking about the excitement of writing 4.1. I also think it's interesting that as Barth gets specialized in ethics, he does seem to leave his foundation. The bits of philosophy and culture that I've read in that volume, however, are interesting in themselves, and show Barth in relation to his context. But to Jones' point, they do give evidence for the common complaint that Barth's theology is too christocentric and therefore abstract to help make concrete decisions in ethical cases. Perhaps Barth couldn't withstand the temptation to leave his christological focus, and this is why he had nothing to say about the volume.

Chris TerryNelson said...

I haven't run across anyone in Barth scholarship who is willing to take Barth's foundation and deal with special ethics in christological terms. Nigel Biggar can only pay lip service through a survey of Barth's christological ethics, but then prefers to leave it behind when dealing with special cases (this was very evident at the Barth Conference I think). Does Jones redeem Barth in a more Barthian fashion in his book?

W. Travis McMaken said...

Jones' focus isn't Barth's ethics - this is more of a passing comment about volume 3 in the context of Barth's broader Christology. But, Jones does do some interesting things in terms of pointing out the ethical fruitfulness of that Christology.

Turn to Nimmo's book for Barth on ethics.