Barth Studies

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Divinity at the University of Aberdeen was ranked 1st in the UK for overall quality of research

Barth Studies

Throughout his life and after his death, the theology of Karl Barth (1886-1968) has provoked vigorous discussion and engagement. From the initial responses to his work in German-speaking Europe, through its dissemination and reception in the English-speaking North Atlantic world, to its current impact on various forms of intellectual reflection, Barth's work has exercised a constant, often remarkable, influence on academic, ecclesial, and public discourse. (For more information on Barth and his legacy see this video by Tom Greggs).

Click the tabs below for more information on what Aberdeen has to offer by way of research expertise and doctoral supervision, how to apply, and what students can expect when studying with us.

Barth in Aberdeen

The University of Aberdeen has a unique concentration of Barth scholars, with staff teaching courses and supervising projects relating both to the work of Barth itself and to the relationship of Barth to other theologians and discourses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The Divinity Department also hosts and sponsors various events and activities related to the theology of Barth, including conferences, lectures, and seminars. The Aberdeen University Library holds the David Lewis collection of Karl Barth literature.  


We are interested in hearing from students wishing to undertake postgraduate level work on Barth at the doctoral level. Please contact one of the supervisors below if you are thinking about applying for a PhD in their subject area.

Professor David Clough: David Clough is primarily interested in Barth’s theological ethics. His first monograph, Ethics in Crisis: Interpreting Barth’s Ethics (2005) argued that Barth’s radical account of Christian ethics in his early commentary on Romans is in strong continuity with the ethics of Barth’s Church Dogmatics. He has contributed to a wide range of edited works on Barth, engages Barth’s doctrines of creation and election in his theology of animals, and gave a paper on James Cone’s critique of Barth studies as one of the keynote speakers at the 2018 Annual Karl Barth Conference: Karl Barth and the Future of Liberation Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Professor Tom Greggs: Tom Greggs is interested in constructive appropriations of Barth’s theology. His work on Barth has three focuses: first Barth’s method as a historian of theology, and how theological approaches to historical theology might be conceived; second, drawing the theology of Karl Barth into dialogue other thinkers (especially from the patristic, modern and post-modern era); and third, relating Barth’s work to contemporary issues in systematic and public theologies, particularly ecclesiology, pluralism and inter-faith issues, universal salvation, and the critique of religion.

Professor Paul Nimmo: Paul Nimmo has published widely on the work of Karl Barth. His first monograph, Being in Action, explores the relationship between ontology and ethics in the Church Dogmatics and won a John Templeton Award for Theological Promise. His second monograph, Karl Barth and the Eucharist, will seek to think with and after Barth on a theology of the Lord’s Supper (and is scheduled for publication in 2017). A Fellow of the Center for Barth Studies and a member of the Karl Barth Translation Seminar, Nimmo has also published research articles on various doctrines in Barth’s theology, and is currently writing the T&T Clarke Guide for the Perplexed on Karl Barth and co-editing with Paul Dafydd Jones the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Karl Barth.

Professor Phillip Ziegler: Philip Ziegler’s interests include Barth’s theology in the context of the development of modern Protestant theology (especially in relation to the German Church Struggle of the 1930s); Barth’s contributions to our understanding of theological method; Barth’s Christology and ecclesiology; and his contributions to the fundaments of political theology and theological ethics. His research also traces the continued reception and influence of Barth’s theology in Europe and North America; his work on the German theologian Wolf Krötke, and the American Reformed theologian and ethicist Paul L. Lehmann are indicative of this. He serves as the General Secretary of the Karl Barth Society of North America.


The following are some selected publications engaging or drawing on Barth by staff at the University of Aberdeen:

Professor Tom Greggs

Professor Paul Nimmo

Professor Philip Ziegler

  • “Barth's Criticisms of Kierkegaard—A Striking Out at Phantoms?” International Journal of Systematic Theology 9:4 (October 2007), pp. 434-451.
  • “Christian Theology and Democratic Politics in Conversation with Jeffrey Stout,” Theology Today 63:2 (July 2006), pp. 227-234.
  • “Doing Conscience Over: The Reformulation of the Doctrine of Conscience in Karl Barth and Paul Lehmann,” Toronto Journal of Theology 14:2 (1998), pp. 213-238.
  • Doing Theology When God is Forgotten—The Theological Achievement of Wolf Krötke (Berlin: Peter Lang, 2006).
  • Wolf Krötke, Sin and Nothingness in the Theology of Karl Barth. Edited and translated by P.G. Ziegler and C.-M. Bammel. Studies in Reformed Theology and History, New Series 10, 2005. (The full text of this work is freely available online here).

Some helpful links for further information and resources on Barth's theology and Barth studies include: