Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Acclaimed by many as the dominant theologian of the twentieth century, Barth was a Swiss Reformed pastor, professor, and writer best known for his critique of nineteenth century Protestant liberal theology.
The eldest son of Johann Friedrich (Fritz) and Anna Katharina Barth, Karl Barth was born on May 10, 1886, in Basel, Switzerland. Both of Barth’s grandfathers were ministers within the Swiss Reformed church. His father, also an ordained minister, was at the time of Karl’s birth a teacher in the Evangelical School of Preachers in Basel. This conservative seminary had been founded about ten years earlier to counter the influence of Protestant liberal theology which was predominant in most of the larger European universities.
When Karl was three years old, his father accepted a position as a lecturer and subsequently as a professor of church history and the New Testament at the University of Bern. The academic environment of Bern, coupled with the conservative religious training within the Barth household, exerted considerable influence upon Karl and his siblings. From his father, Karl acquired a love for history and politics, a seriousness about study, and an appreciation for the arts, especially music. On the eve of his confirmation, Karl “boldly resolved to become a theologian.” Two of his younger brothers also followed their father into academic pursuits—Peter, as an...
(The entire section is 2127 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!