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Title: Karl Barth : theology and the rhetoric of authority
Author: Hobson, T.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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My thesis is based in the early work of Karl Barth. At its core is a reading of his theology which highlights the role of authoritative rhetoric. What distinguishes his theology from the logic of liberalism is its conception of the Word of God as a speech-event in which the discourse of theology participates. My thesis also traces this dynamic in Protestant tradition: Protestantism locates Christian truth in the rhetorical authority of the Word, and theology entails the re-performance of this authority. Chapter One contextualizes my reading of Barth in recent theological thought, especially that of the Yale school. 'Postliberal' theology is heavily influenced by Barth's opposition to liberal apologetics. Theologians such as Homer, Frei, Lindbeck and Milbank develop categories in which Christian particularity may be preserved and affirmed. Yet I argue that in their theologies there is insufficient reflection as to why this idiom, or narrative, or intratextual system should be spoken from within. There is also insufficient account of theology's participation in its subject matter. Barth himself is more fully postliberal in his insistence that theology must be based in a distinctive, authoritative style. His theology addresses the question of truth in its performance of the Word's authority. Chapter Two is the only chapter exclusively concerned with Barth's theology. I briefly consider Barth's development from a rhetorical perspective, suggesting that his radicalism is based in a theology of the Word as voice of authority. Yet the chapter largely consists in a reading of his Romans commentary (second edition). I show how his theological method is based in the apprehension, and the reperformance, of the divine speech-act, which can already be characterised as God's 'Yes'. I suggest that his rhetoric takes dialogical form. I also consider The Göttingen Dogmatics and other minor works of this period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available