Ethics with Barth: God, Metaphysics and Morals: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Ethics with Barth: God, Metaphysics and Morals

1st Edition

By Matthew Rose


234 pages

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Although interest in the theology of Karl Barth is greater today than at any time since his death, Barth's moral thought continues to be widely misunderstood. This groundbreaking study of the twentieth-century's most important Christian thinker offers the first treatment of Barth's ethics from a Roman Catholic perspective. Focusing particularly on Barth's 'ethics of creation' in the Church Dogmatics, Rose reclaims Barth from a number of misinterpretations and presents Barth's account of the good life within his distinctively Christian metaphysics. Among the most provocative of Rose's claims is that Barth sees the Christian life as guided by reason and nature, an interpretation that finds Barth in conversation with ancient and medieval ethical theories about the nature of human happiness. A significant contribution to Barth studies and current debates in contemporary Christian theology, Ethics with Barth sheds valuable light on the connection between metaphysics and ethics, the trinitarian dimensions of Christian moral thought, the nature of the divine good, the role of Christian philosophy, Barth's conception of moral reasoning, and his views on eudaimonism and the natural law.


’In this engaging work, Rose makes the bold proposal that Barth's ethics is best read in line with Catholic concerns: to live morally and well is to live in conformity with human nature as that is determined by God's dealings with us. Taking its cue from some of the best Catholic scholarship on Barth, this book is simply among the most important treatments of Barth's ethics to date, and should therefore be of interest to all students of this enormously influential twentieth-century theologian.’ Kathryn Tanner, Yale Divinity School, USA 'Does grace overcome nature or perfect it? The consequences of neither answer to this ancient question have been satisfactory. It is a fundamental move of Barth's theology, and one endemically overlooked, to say why this is so: the question presumes a nature antecedent to grace, whereas in fact the grace of Christ is the antecedent of nature. In no field of Barth-interpretation has missing that move been more disastrous than in the attempt to make sense of his ethics. Matthew Rose's brilliant book remedies this situation, in principle and in meticulous detail.' Robert W. Jenson, Princeton, USA 'Rose's book is an interesting thought experiment. He points to surprising features such as the eudaimonism in CD II/2 and III/4. Furthermore, he seeks a basis for communal moral discernment, which should not be dismissed too easily. Rose is helpful in that he combines in one book the dogmatic interpretation of Barth by von Balthasar and the ethical interpretation by Biggar, both of which Rose identifies as his main inspirations.' Journal of Theological Studies 'Rose's Ethics with Barth: God, Metaphysics and Morals is an attractive text for two particular groups of readers. First, for those interested in Christian ethics generally, and those interested in natural law or eudaemonist approaches to ethics specifically, it offers a stimulating account of how God relates to the moral coherence of the world and the fulfillment of human nature.

About the Author

Matthew Rose is Arthur J. Ennis Fellow in the Humanities at Villanova University, USA.

About the Series

Barth Studies

The work of Barth is central to the history of modern western theology and remains a major voice in contemporary constructive theology. His writings have been the subject of intensive scrutiny and re-evaluation over the past two decades, notably on the part of English-language Barth scholars who have often been at the forefront of fresh interpretation and creative appropriation of his theology. Study of Barth, both by graduate students and by established scholars, is a significant enterprise; literature on him and conferences devoted to his work abound; the Karl Barth Archive in Switzerland and the Center for Barth Studies at Princeton give institutional profile to these interests. Barth's work is also considered by many to be a significant resource for the intellectual life of the churches.

Drawing from the wide pool of Barth scholarship, and including translations of Barth's works, this series aims to function as a means by which writing on Barth, of the highest scholarly calibre, can find publication. The series builds upon and furthers the interest in Barth's work in the theological academy and the church.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General