Nationhood beyond the state: the development of Karl Barth’s theological understanding of nationhood
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/12/2100
The thesis charts the development of Karl Barth’s theological understanding of nationhood from the inception of his career as an undergraduate to the writing of the section on nationhood in his Church Dogmatics (‘Near and Distant Neighbours’). Barth is shown to distinguish nationhood from the state. Nationhood for Barth is the product of human agency working within the providence of the Trinitarian God. It is not an order of creation or nature, nor can it be grounded in the work of the Spirit. Barth’s motivation for distinguishing nationhood and the state was to oppose the nationalist dogma that every nation must have its own state, a doctrine which he believed provoked warfare. Barth’s understanding of the nation as the ‘people’ (das Volk) is similar to the concept of ethnos found in the Bible. The maintenance of the distinction between nationhood and the state as a means of countering nationalist dogma is shown to be a major factor in the development of Barth’s theology.