Obedient Unto Death: The Person and Work of Jesus Christ in Karl Barth's Theological Ethics

Doctoral Dissertation


In recent years Karl Barth’s theological ethics have enjoyed a considerable degree of critical interest and constructive development. At the same time, recent accounts of Barth’s theological ethics have failed to grapple adequately with Barth’s claims concerning the central and organizing role Christology plays in his overall theological program. The dissertation seeks to demonstrate that Barth’s theological ethics are grounded in Christology in a way that has not yet been sufficiently appreciated, and offers a critical reorientation for the study of Barth’s ethics within the same Christological horizon that characterized his dogmatic efforts. In Chapter One the dissertation shows the various ways in which recent treatments of Barth’s theological ethics fail to consider the Christological basis of his thought, and recommends a closer examination of his Christology for our understanding of the ethical task and specific ethical commitments. In Chapter Two the dissertation examines the person of Jesus Christ in Barth’s thought as the ground of the authentically human, showing that the basis of human being in Barth’s thought is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Chapter Three discusses the work of Jesus Christ, specifically in terms of his obedience to God in the atonement; this obedience is constitutive of all other forms of human obedience and is the basis for Barth’s description of the ethical event of encounter with the command of God. In Chapter Four the dissertation examines the significance of the person and work of Jesus Christ for creation, understood as the context of human action in Barth’s thought. Christology figures centrally here again, as Barth thinks of creation and moral order as dialectically determined by covenant, the enactment of God’s relationship with human beings that occurs in the obedience of Jesus Christ. In Chapter Five, the dissertation brings Christology to bear on the criticisms of Barth’s theological ethics highlighted in Chapter One, and recommends that Barth’s Christological basis for theological ethics represents a constructive and positive way forward for Christian ethics more broadly considered.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04172009-171917

Author Matthew Henry Loverin
Advisor Gerald McKenny
Contributor Cyril O Regan, Committee Member
Contributor Gerald McKenny, Committee Chair
Contributor Jean Porter, Committee Member
Contributor Jennifer Herdt, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2009-02-10

Submission Date 2009-04-17
  • United States of America

  • Christology

  • Barth

  • Trinity

  • Obedience

  • Theological Ethics

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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