Karl Barth’s christological anthropology : re-thinking Christian conceptions of identity regarding sex, gender, and sexuality

  • Taylor Telford

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis bridges the impasse between Christians who adhere to essentialist and subjectivist understandings of identity, especially regarding sex, gender, and sexuality. By drawing on Karl Barth’s Christological anthropology, it grounds all human being in the Particular, Jesus of Nazareth, ensuring universal human ontology and affirming the significance of phenomenal particularity of individual persons. This is argued first, through Barth’s methodology and consequent ontology, his rejection of Natural Theology, the necessity of the who over the what question, and how Jesus Christ, True God and True Human, reveals divine and human being as active relationality, both constituted in God’s inner and ad extra active relating in Christ. Second, by outlining the logic of Barth’s Christological anthropology, including his rejection of speculative accounts, his affirmation of scientific accounts, who Jesus as True Human reveals humanity to be in relation to God and others, and the internal tensions of his male/female ordered dyad. Third, in exploring Barth’s mature Christology, where God’s identity is revealed in Jesus’ phenomenal particularity as Jewish, which also confirms Jesus’ universal human Identity and affirms the phenomenal particularity of all humans as the context for correspondence to universal human being in Christ. Lastly, it critically evaluates Barth’s account, firstly within the parameters of his own priorities, and secondly in dialogue with current science of sex, gender, and sexuality, and then offers a renewed version of identity. Against subjectivism, all humanity shares in the objective, ontological Identity in Christ. Against essentialism, each person’s particularity (identities) is the meaningful location for lived Identity. That all people share in the universal Identity in Jesus evokes a posture of curiosity instead of control towards both one’s own and the other’s phenomenal identities. Christians can affirm the universal humanity and unique particularity of persons within and outside of the cisgendered heteronormative male/female dyad.
Date of Award16 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorChristoph Schwoebel (Supervisor) & Bruce McCormack (Supervisor)


  • Karl Barth
  • Christology
  • Anthropology
  • Identity
  • Sex, gender, and sexuality
  • Essentialism
  • Subjectivism
  • Particularity
  • Otherness

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 5 August 2026

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