Election, Atonement and the Holy Spirit: Through and Beyond Barth’s Theological Interpretation of Scripture

By Matthias Grebe

A critique of Karl Barth’s theology of election and atonement that adapts his own methodology to identify and correct the flaws in his exegetical approach.

ISBN: 9780227175170
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Election, Atonement, and the Holy Spirit is an examination of the doctrines of election and atonement in Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, taking up Barth’s own challenge to his reader to surpass his argument and offer a better typological interpretation of the cultic texts. Barth’s radical re-working of Calvin’s doctrine of election is one of the most important developments in twentieth-century theology. Christ synthesizes for Barth a particular dialectic: the binary structure of God’s Yes of election and God’s No of rejection. The book’s central question – how can Jesus simultaneously be both the elected and the rejected (CD II/2), acting as both the judge and the judged (CD IV/1)? – is followed by an exploration of the roles of the Holy Spirit and human freedom in God’s electing and saving action. Although commentators acknowledge Barth’s innovation in this area but also identify problems with his approach, few have offered what David Ford has called a correction “from within” Barth, using Barth’s own method. Using the concept of Existenzstellvertretung, this critique of Barth’s exegetical justification for the doctrines offers an alternative exegesis that not only provides this much-needed correction, but also immerses the reader in a fresh engagement with Scripture itself.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 312

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Revd Dr Matthias Grebe studied theology at Tübingen, Cambridge and Princeton. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bonn, Germany.


Foreword by David F. Ford


1. Election, Rejection, and Exegesis
2. Jesus Christ the Elect: Through and Beyond Barth
3. The Covenant, Humanity and das Nichtige
4. Jesus Christ the Judge: Through and Beyond Barth
5. Election, Atonement, and the Holy Spirit

Subject Index
Name Index
Scripture Index


Endorsements and Reviews

Wrestling with the biblical tradition, Grebe plays Barth at his own game and tests the exegeses that lie at the heart of Barth’s dogmatic proposals. Grebe emerges as a reliable interpreter of Barth’s thought and a provocative theologian in his own right.
Ashley Cocksworth, The Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham

Grebe has produced a bold and important book on a central theme for Barth studies and theology more broadly. Grebe’s approach of considering Barth’s theology in light of biblical interpretation is not only a sound one, but also one that reflects Barth’s own concerns and sets an important trajectory for Barth studies in the future.
Tom Greggs, University of Aberdeen

Grebe enters into detailed and critical enagagement with several major loci of Barth’s Church Dogmatics … skillfully drawing out their interconnection with one another.
Susannah Ticciati, King’s College London, in Modern Believing, Vol 57:1

Grebe’s work will interest constructive theologians concerned with rethinking the atonement and the growing number who are attracted to the ‘theological interpretation of Scripture’. … The best way to engage this book – and Barth! – is with a Bible open next to you. In this sense, Grebe shows himself to be the best type of ‘Barthian’ – one who learns from Barth materially and methodologically without remaining trapped within Barth’s conclusions.
Derek W. Taylor, in Theology, Vol 119 (2)

… this study is a seriously considered, erudite, and a relatively conclusive work, exhibiting sound biblical exegesis, offering fresh insights to an understanding of atonement generally, and is an excellent contribution to Barthian studies.
Paul Brazier, in Heythrop Journal, Vol 56, Issue 6