I only just now heard that Princeton Seminary is hosting a 2018 Markus Barth Symposium on 27-28 Sept 2018 (so like, in a week!). So so wish I was going!
Markus Barth was the son of the famous Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Markus Barth (b. October 6, 1915 – d. July 1, 1994) studied Protestant theology in Bern, Basel, Berlin, and Edinburgh. From 1940 to 1953, he was pastor in Bubendorf near Basel. In 1947 he received a doctorate in New Testament from the University of Göttingen. Between 1953 and 1972 he held professorships in New Testament at theological schools in Dubuque (Iowa), Chicago, and Pittsburgh. From 1973 to 1985 he was professor of New Testament in Basel.
Interesting fact, Markus Barth’s first publication was: “Die Gestapo gegen die Bekenntniskirche,” BN June 19-20 (1937). Heck of a topic to start your publishing career on!!!
I’ve really enjoyed and benefitted from Markus Barth’s many works over the years.
First, he wrote significant works on sacramental theology, or I should say, anti-sacramental theology, since he changed his father’s view on baptism to believer’s baptism.
You can get his book on the Last Supper from Wipf & Stock fairly cheaply.
Second, the theology of the Pauline epistles, including three major commentaries: Ephesians (1974), Colossians (1994), and Philemon (2000, posthumously). One of the few European scholars who thinks that Paul really did write Ephesians.
His volume on resurrection with Verne H. Fletcher, Acquittal by Resurrection (New York: Holt, Rinehard and Winston, 1964) was very important for me in my early days in Pauline studies:
“The legal ground of justification – and the reason to praise God as the justifier of the wicked lies in Jesus Christ exclusively . . . It lies in his death and resurrection, not in his teaching, or in our obedience to it. Man’s faith has a part in that legal ground only in as much as it is faith in Jesus Christ.” (p. 94)
In his book on justification, he wrote:
“‘Justified by faith’ means, accordingly, tried by the faithful God, sentenced conformably to the appearance, death, and rising of the obedient and loving Son, acquitted and set free in a manner identical with new creation and recognizably only with rejoicing and thanksgiving. God’s faith, the faith of Jesus Christ, and man’s answer in faith are – each in its own way – the means by which the righteousness and life are given to the community of sinful Jews and Gentiles. It is true: man is justified sola fide, by faith alone But this saving faith is much more than a mere existential posture and response of man. Faith is first of all the characteristic and gift of God and his Son. Built on the faithfulness of the Judge and the Advocate, the human trust and faithfulness toward God stand on firm ground. There is no other requisite or means of justification beyond this.”
Markus Barth was also way ahead of the curve on things like the pistis christou debate where he championed the reading of the subjective genitive long before it was fashionable in his article Markus Barth, “The Faith of the Messiah.” Heythrop Journal. 10:4 (1969) 363-370.
Third, the Jewish-Christian dialogue, which for him included reflection about religious as well as political matters, for example, the theological importance of Judaism for Christianity (and vice versa) or the achievements and failures of Zionism. Two of his writings on this subject are: “Israel and the Church” (1969) and “The People of God” (1983).
He wrote a little known but thought-provoking article: “Jews and Gentiles: The Social Character of Justification in Paul,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 5 (1968): 241-67 which really did pave the way for the NPP. So Markus Barth, yes a Barthian, anticipated the New Perspective years before Sanders or Dunn. Read this quote:
“A careful analysis of Galatians 2:15-21 indicates that no one can claim God’s justice for himself – God’s impartial judgment through the death of Jesus Christ involves Jews and Gentiles. Justification is a social event. It ties man to man together. Justification by works would segregate men because each person selects his own arbitrary criterion of good works. Justification by grace, however, brings people together in reconciliation, even those of alien background, like the Jews and Gentiles.” (p. 241)“For Paul one’s justification is closely related to the question of Jewish-Gentile unity.” (p. 242)
“For the two themes, justification by faith and unity of Jew and Gentile in Christ, are for him obviously not only inseparable but in the last analysis identical.” (p. 258)
“Sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the means of justification: only in Christ’s death and resurrection is the new man created. But this new man is not any individual, this one or that one: he is created from at least two: a Jew and a Greek, a man and a woman, a slave and a free man, etc.” (p. 259).