Back last year I was approached to see if I wanted to offer a paper to the Barth Studies stream of this year’s ANZATS Conference in Adelaide. The chosen theme was ‘Reading Romans with Karl Barth’. Last week I head that the proposal has been accepted which means that I will need to be spending some time in a different section of the Dalton McCaughey Library than usual. Here is the proposed abstract:
God Revealed and Hidden: Barth’s Exegesis of Romans 11:33–36
Responding to the call for papers that explore the theme of ‘Reading Romans with Barth’, this paper considers the climax of Paul’s theological exposition in Romans: the doxology of Romans 11:33–36. In the 2nd edition of the Römerbrief Barth makes explicit the summative importance of this passage in relation to the central theme of Romans: ‘that in Christ Jesus the Deus absconditus is as such the Deus revelatus’. As such, the passage forms an inclusio with Rom 1:16–17 and proclaims God to be the God of victory and of mercy ‘in this hiddenness’. Taking Barth’s exposition in the commentary as a starting point, I explicitly connect his exegetical treatment to the more explicitly dogmatic considerations of CD I.2 and the doctrine of revelation. The paper then considers how Barth’s insight into the relation between revelation and mystery, forged in the context of post WW1 German theology, coheres backwards and forwards in time with other deeply contextual theological accounts. Looking back, I consider Paul’s situational rhetoric in the argument of Romans and the role of 11:33–36 to his account of salvation history directed at conflicts in the Roman house churches. Moving forwards, I note the close connection to Katherine Sonderegger’s recent treatment of divine omnipresence in Part II of her Systematic Theology, an explicitly dogmatic treatment that is both exegetical in shape and contextual in orientation.