The personal is the (academic) political: Why care about the love lives of theologians?

Rachel Muers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

What might be learned, for theology, from recent interest in the complex love triangle of Nelly Barth, Charlotte von Kirschbaum and Karl Barth? I explore some aspects of how the story has been told, in and since Christiane Tietz's 2016 presentation and article, and argue that they expose deep-seated issues in and for the discipline of systematic theology. In particular, I draw attention to the focus on preserving the authority of the individual (male/masculine) author as the exemplar of theological practice; and to the reluctance to recognise the social, political and economic dimensions of sexuality and 'domestic' life. I argue that a properly 'systematic theological' approach to the Barth-von Kirschbaum story would involve critical and constructive theological reflection on theology's conditions of production: using historical contexts to help us recognise and respond to contemporary issues, without reducing such reflection to stories about individual authors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalScottish Journal of Theology
Issue number3
Early online date14 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Charlotte von Kirschbaum
  • Karl Barth
  • systematic theology
  • theology and context
  • theology and gender


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