The doctrine of revelation in Karl Barth and James Cone : knowledge, encounter and the disruption of social order.

Date of Award


Document Type



Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Master of Arts


The doctrine of revelation is not concerned only with the attainment of right knowledge, but with the encounter of God, an event which sets the context for all succeeding epistemological frameworks. By accounting for God's activity with and for the human creature, divine revelation has the capacity to disrupt perceived social orders, which may tend toward social control and oppression. Karl Barth and James Cone are important theological voices within any attempt to reflect on revelation as an event of divine encounter. Both thinkers claim that a true encounter with God in revelation does not offer the human a complete picture of ultimate reality, but instead represents an experience of right relationship, which combats social violence replacing it with a sociality informed by the reality of who God is for creatures. Whether we focus on God's revelation as a 'black event' geared toward liberation, or an event of God's free decision to be for the creature without creaturely initiation, the doctrine of revelation operates as a disruption to social norms allowing new disruptions to continue breaking through socially ordered existence. In considering this train of though in Barth and Cone, one must finally ask, whether their own revelatory disruptions are once and for all, or a continual experience open to further disruptions of the social norms even they endorse. It is here that the possibilities of a continually disruptive form of divine revelation may be possible.