Common actualization: Karl Barth's recovery and reappropriation of the communication of natures

The doctrine of the communication of natures has played a primarily descriptive role in the history of Christology, and so it is perhaps unsurprising that it has largely gone missing from contemporary theology. This is a serious oversight. But Karl Barth is a noteworthy exception to the reductionist trend, and he provides the Reformed tradition's most complete and substantive engagement with the communication of natures and its implications for dogmatic theology. Through a close reading of volume IV/2 of the Church Dogmatics , this essay considers Karl Barth's vital emphasis upon the communicatio naturarum and the role it plays in his actualist Christology. Barth demonstrates that the traditional threefold communication (of attributes, graces, and operations) has material as well as formal importance. According to Barth, we see in Christ not the mere coincidence of two natures, nor an interpenetration, nor the transformation of one into the other – but mutual operation and interpretation, where divinity and humanity each acquires and has its determination in the other
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DOI 10.1515/NZST.2011.029
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