Markus Barth: His Life and Legacy, By Mark R. Lindsay
Markus Barth
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: December 03, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0162
  • ISBN: 9781514001622

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A Definitive Biography of the Twentieth-Century Thinker

"Certainly, in all my work my dependence upon my father will be visible, and, so I hope, a testimony to his life's work will be given. But on the whole, I have never attempted simply to represent or promote his work, but rather within the narrow frame of my competence in exegetical matters, to contribute to it." —Markus Barth, 1985

Though he has long been undervalued and remained in the shadow of his famous father, Markus Barth was a significant, groundbreaking thinker in his own right. He was a pastor, New Testament scholar, and theologian working in both Switzerland (Basel) and the United States (Dubuque, Chicago, and Pittsburgh), whose life intertwined with major developments in theology and modern history.

In this book, theologian Mark Lindsay provides the first biography of Markus Barth (1915–1994), eldest son of Karl Barth. Drawing from a hitherto unparalleled access to the extensive collection of Markus Barth's private letters and papers, including those in the Special Collections at Princeton Theological Seminary, Lindsay puts Barth's story and thought into historical context. He explores multiple aspects of Barth's life, including family and early years, pastoral work, scholarship, and enduring legacy. Lindsay identifies three main areas of Barth's contributions: his New Testament scholarship; his theology of the sacraments; and his pioneering, though not uncontroversial, work in Jewish-Christian relations.

"Mark Lindsay has finally given us his much-awaited biography of Markus Barth. Markus Barth—though often overshadowed by his father, the great theologian Karl Barth—was an amazing theologian in his own right. Barth the younger was way ahead of the curve on so many topics of New Testament scholarship that are only now becoming mainstream. Lindsay's biography of Markus Barth shows the life, story, and scholarship of a truly amazing figure in Christian scholarship of the twentieth century. A must-read book!"

Michael F. Bird, deputy principal at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia, and author of A Bird's-Eye View of Luke and Acts

"In this captivating and meticulous biography, Mark R. Lindsay offers a window into the life of a theologian who is often overlooked. As someone guilty of neglecting Markus Barth, despite hearing many wonderful things about him, I found this book eye-opening. It is also beautifully written and accessible, making it not simply an academic treatise but a read that will be enjoyable for a broad audience."

Andrew B. Torrance, director of impact and senior lecturer in theology at the University of St Andrews

"Mark Lindsay has written an invaluable and engaging portrait of Markus Barth in which we meet the person, the scholar, and the Christian. The key elements of Barth's lifework—his contributions to New Testament exegesis (most especially to the study of Paul), his passionate commitment (both theological and personal) to the importance of Jewish-Christian relations, and his provocative ecumenical contributions to rethinking the nature and practice of baptism and the Lord's Supper—are all insightfully examined on the basis of careful archival research. The result is a fine account of Barth's life and legacy that also affords important perspectives on the history of theology in the twentieth century."

Philip G. Ziegler, professor of Christian dogmatics at the University of Aberdeen



1. A Childhood of "Particular Affection": The Early Years, 1915–1930
2. "You Can Still Learn Something from Something False": The Student Years, 1930–1939
3. "A pastor needs to be there for all the neighbors": Politics and the Pastorate, 1940–1953
4. "I try to make Greek as important to them as possible": The Iowa Years, 1953–1955
5. "Why did this school appoint Dr Markus Barth?": Chicago, 1955–1963
6. "Maybe it’s not entirely for nothing": Pittsburgh, 1963–1973
7. "There is still Colossians and Philemon to be done": Return to Basel, 1973–1994
8. "I always felt he was a kindred spirit": Markus Barth's Legacy
9. Epilogue

Appendix: Markus Barth's Course Register, 1973–1986
Name Index
Subject Index


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Mark R. Lindsay

Mark R. Lindsay is Joan F. W. Munro Professor of Historical Theology at Trinity College Theological School, the University of Divinity. He is the author of Reading Auschwitz with Barth; Barth, Israel and Jesus; and Covenanted Solidarity.