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Barth’s Earlier Theology: Four Studies

, 2005
ISBN: 0567083527

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In this new book, Webster continues the work that he initiated in Barth’s Moral Theology. He addresses the important topics of biblical exegesis and historical theology in Barth’s early writing, and develops his own line of interpretation of Barth’s theology in general. Webster suggests that the traditional accounts of Barth’s development are inadequate: they tend to emphasize his cultural and philosophical context, to focus on the same limited selection of his writings and to misjudge his theological intentions, regarding him as a purely transcendental thinker or as a postmodernist. In this book Webster provides detailed interpretations of early texts that have received little attention, such as Barth’s work on 1 Corinthians, on the Reformed Confessions, and on modern Protestant theology. Webster draws out the significance of Barth’s early biblical exegesis and historical theology, and shows how his work in both fields was conceived from the beginning as important preparation for his future dogmatic work.

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Key Features

  • Explores multiple early writing from Karl Barth, including work on 1 Corinthians
  • Examines the significance of Barth’s early biblical exegesis and historical theology


  • Barth’s Earlier Theology: Some Unfinished Tasks
  • The Theology of Zwingli
  • The Theology of the Reformed Confessions
  • The Resurrection of the Dead
  • ‘There is no past in the Church, so there is no past in theology’: Barth on the History of Modern Protestant Theology

Praise for the Print Edition

. . . Webster offers a fascinating analysis.

—John Saxbee, Church Times

Veterans of Barth scholarship and newcomers alike will certainly find this text engaging and insightful. There is no doubt that Webster has added another brilliant brush stroke to the varying portrait of Karl Barth’s life and work.

—Ethan Worthington, Scottish Journal of Theology

[A] thorough, elegant analysis and reappraisal of his subject....the book is to be commended, for, in his own words, ‘if we do not acquire the skills to listen to what the communion of saints says to us, what we have to say in our turn will be thin and unedifying, solemn at all the wrong places and lacking in joyful seriousness about the gospel’ (65).

—Michael Reeves, Themelios

The overall aim . . . is admirably achieved.

—Mark D. Chapman, Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, Theology

Product Details

  • Title: Barth’s Earlier Theology: Four Studies
  • Author: John Webster
  • Publisher: T&T Clark
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Pages: 160
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Historical Theology
John Webster

John Webster (1955–2016) was a distinguished British theologian who was strongly influenced by Karl Barth and a member of the Anglican Communion. He began his career as chaplain and tutor St. John‘s College, Durham University and the became Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, following Rowan Williams. During his time at Oxford he also served as canon of Christ Church. In 2003, he became the Chair of Systematic Theology at King‘s College, University of Aberdeen.

Working with Colin Gunton, Webster cofounded the International Journal of Systematic Theology, and served as an editorial board member International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church and the Scottish Journal of Theology, and coedited the Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology.  He authored several other books including Confronted by Grace: Mediatations of a Theologian,  Karl Barth, Confessing God, Holiness, Word and Church, and Domain of the Word: Scripture and Theological Reason.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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