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Course Syllabus

Fall 2014


THEO 0670

WEDNESDAYS 6:45 p.m. – 9:35 p.m.


Telephone number: 416 226 6380 ext. 6726

Email: vshepherd@tyndale.ca

Office Hours: As posted


Description: The course endeavours to acquaint students with the major topics of the most significant theologian since the Sixteenth Century Reformation.  It presupposes theological zeal and a willingness to read closely and consistently material that is admittedly dense yet equally rich.

Prerequisite: THEO 0531 and THEO 0532

Outcomes: Students will be equipped to

 [1] understand the “Copernican Revolution” in Barth’s theology with respect to his understanding of revelation: God alone is both the subject and object of revelation even as he remains Lord of it;

[2] appreciate Barth’s theological background: the anthropocentric liberalism articulated most eloquently by Friedrich Schleiermacher;

[3] see how Barth stands in the tradition of the Reformation yet also moves beyond it at key points (e.g., the doctrine of election);

[4] probe specific items in Barth that have rendered him notorious; e.g., revelation as the “abolition of religion”;

[5] understand how Barth combines simultaneously faithfulness to the logic of Scripture and self-exposure to contemporaneity;

[6] appreciate how Barth has informed recent theologians of the Reformed tradition in both the English-speaking and German-speaking theatres; e.g., Thomas Torrance and Eberhard Juengel;

[7] assess Barth’s fruitfulness for subsequent theological work;

[8] apprehend the force of Barth’s theology for preaching, pastoral conversation, and formal counselling.



R. Michael Allen, Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics: An Introduction and Reader

(London: T&T Clark, 2012.)  ISBN: 97805670 (paperback)

This book is the major resource for the course, and will be read and expounded in each class.


Eberhard Busch, The Great Passion: An Introduction to Karl Barth’s Theology

(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010)  ISBN: 9780802866547 (paperback)

This book is a fine exposition of the major themes in Barth’s thought.

Geoffrey Bromiley, Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth

(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979) ISBN: 080281804

This book provides a trustworthy, chapter-by-chapter exposition of Barth’s Church Dogmatics.     



[1] The ten (10) best of eleven (11) 400-word papers reflecting the student’s theological engagement with the reading of the day, beginning with the reading for September 17.

Note 1: The paper may articulate the student’s critical appreciation of a theological point in Barth or in Barth’s reading of the history of doctrine, or disagreement with same.

It may also articulate a comparison between Barth and another single major thinker with whom the student is familiar; e.g., Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin, Bullinger, Melanchthon, Menno Simons, Schleiermacher, Tillich, Moltmann, etc.

Note 2:  Since one purpose of the paper is to ensure that the student has read the material assigned for class, this paper must be submitted at the commencement of the class; it may not be submitted any time thereafter.

    Note 3: Students should come to class prepared to discuss with the class the substance of their written paper.

[2] A final “take-home” examination/paper that expounds at greater length (2000 words each) any two topics discussed in class, or any two topics in Barth’s theology not discussed in class; e.g., Barth’s understanding of the Holy Spirit, or his exposition of baptism.  [Please see the instructor concerning the latter.]  For this assignment a bibliography should be attached, indicating that the student has consulted at least five substantive resources on the topic under discussion.

Note: All written work may be submitted in French.


A thorough, up-to-date bibliography is available at Tyndale Online:

 HYPERLINK “http://www.tyndale.ca/seminary/mtsmodular/reading-rooms/theology/barth” http://www.tyndale.ca/seminary/mtsmodular/reading-rooms/theology/barth

A briefer bibliography pertaining to overviews of Barth’s s theology is attached below.


Sep 10Introduction

Outline of Barth’s Life and Work

Sep 17“The Word of God in its Threefold Form”Allen, chapt. 2

Sep 24“The Trinity”chapt. 3

Oct 1“The Word Heard and Testified”chapt. 4

Oct 8“The Perfect God”chapt. 5

Oct 15“The Election of Jesus Christ”chapt. 6

Oct 22 Reading Day: No Class

Oct 29 “Theological Ethics”chapt. 7

Nov 5“Creation and Covenant”chapt. 8

Nov 12“Nothingness: Sin as the Impossible Possibility”chapt. 10

Nov 19“Reconciliation in Christ”chapt. 11

Nov 26“Justification and Sanctification”chapt. 12

Dec 3“Vocation and Witness” chapt. 14

Dec 10Final Assignment To Be Submitted by 9:35 p.m.

Bibliography of Karl Barth

The secondary literature on Barth is vast.  The following titles are intended to help students who are beginning their study of Barth’s theology.


Busch, E.; Karl Barth

This huge work is considered the definitive biography of Barth.  It is highly recommended and can be used as a reference tool for all areas of Barth’s thought and the development thereof.

Parker, T.H.L.; Karl Barth

This is a much smaller, more manageable work for neophytes.  It acquaints the reader with an overview of Barth’s life and work. Its brevity does not sacrifice accuracy.  (Parker is also a superb Calvin scholar.)


Berkouwer, G.; The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth

The book delivers what it promises: a critical exposition of Barth in the light of Barth’s conviction concerning the triumph of God’s grace.

Bromiley, G.; Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth  ****

Bromiley’s work is everywhere lucid and accurate.  His book is the best guide to reading Barth in the order of the succeeding volumes of the Church Dogmatics.

This book is highly recommended for those who are approaching CD for the first time.

Busch, Eberhard; Barth

This small book is a useful overview of Barth’s thought, but of course cannot substitute for the much more detailed exposition of The Great Passion.

Busch, Eberhard; The Great Passion: An Introduction to Karl Barth’s Theology ****

This book is much more than an introduction; it is nothing less than a penetrating exploration and exposition of all the major loci in Barth’s thought.

Dorrien, G.; The Barthian Revolt in Modern Theology

This book unfolds the manner in which Barth put 20th Century theology on a new course.

Hart, T.; Regarding Karl Barth: Toward a Readindg of His Theology

The fact that this book is published by IVP indicates the recognition of IVP, together with that of  its supporters, Barth’s thought.

Hartwell, H.; The Theology of Karl Barth

Hartwell’s book is one of the older discussions of Barth’s theology. It treats Barth topically rather than in the order of CD.  It can always be relied on to provide a clear, succinct statement of major aspects of Barth’s thought.

Hunsinger, G.; Disruptive Grace: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth

This book comments on Barth’s relationship to political, doctrinal and ecumenical theology.

Hunsinger, G.; How to Read Karl Barth

This work acquaints readers with the logic of Barth’s thought in the course of expounding Barth’s approach to major doctrines.

McCormack, B.; Karl Barth’s Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology

This book explores both the immediate antecedents to Barth’s theology and unfolding of Barth’s “Copernican Revolution” in theology.

Torrance, T.; Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian.

Torrance discusses several features of Barth’s thought from the perspective of Barth’s faithfulness to the logic of the gospel.

 Torrance, T.; Karl Barth: An Introduction to His Early Thought: 1910-1931

This is a fine exploration of the theo-logic of Barth’s move to a genuinely “scientific” (wissenschaftlich) theology. (See McCormack above for disagreement as to ‘developmen’ in Barth’s theology.)

von Balthasar, H.; The Theology of Karl Barth

Von Balthasar is a major Roman Catholic reader of Karl Barth.  Bruce McCormack’s book, however, is a sustained argument against von Balthasar.

Webster, J.; Barth ****

Webster is undoubtedly one of the finest Barth scholars in the English-speaking world.  His work provides a very readable introduction to Barth’s thought.

Webster, J. (ed.); The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth

A compilation of essays on assorted topics by assorted scholars, this book examines in greater depth areas of Barth where his theology has proved unusually fruitful.