Review: Bonhoeffer Works Vol 14 @fortresspress

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 14: Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935-1937

Author: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Editor: H. Gaylon Barker and Mark S. Brocker

Hardcover: 1258 pages

Publisher: Fortress Press, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8006-9835-3

Fortress Press


It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Bonhoeffer’s works. So, it should surprise anyone that I received a review copy of Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 14 from Augsburg Fortress.

The book is split into three parts. Part 1 contains 154 letters and documents, both to and from Bonhoeffer. Part 2 contains exercises, lectures, and essays written by Bonhoeffer f. Part 3 contains sermons and meditations written by Bonhoeffer. The books is pretty evenly divided between letters and other writings (about half the book is letters with the other half being the other writings.)

The piece that I found most interesting was Bonhoeffer’s Lecture and Discussion on the Power of the Keys and Church Discipline (beginning on page 825). I found this piece to be interesting because of its proximity in writing to my favorite of Bonhoeffer’s works, Discipleship. One of the things that drew me to this particular piece is that we can see Bonhoeffer formulating pieces of Discipleship. This also allows us to see the development of Bonhoeffer’s ideas that later became a part of Discipleship.

There is a lot in this volume, but one aspect that I liked about this volume was the incorporation of the student notes found in Part 2.  For example, there are notes on Article XVI of the Augsburg Confession (337). From the footnotes, we know that these notes were taken by a student maned Joachim Kanitz. And Eberhard Bethge’s corresponding notes have this lecture given on July 15, 1935. It should come as little surprise that most of the student notes found in this volume are from Eberhard Bethge; however, if you spend some time looking through the different student notes, you will come across the names of other students. I personally thought this was interesting because it adds a new dimension to Bonhoeffer’s works, especially during his time teaching at the seminary. It’s not just Bonhoeffer’s words that we have here, but also the words of his students.

This is an excellent resource for those studying Bonhoeffer. There are a plethora footnotes that cross-reference other letters/papers/documents in this volume as well as other volumes in the series. My only complaint with the volume is there are several items that were published in the Nachlaß Dietrich Bonhoeffer that are not included in the English edition. Those items not included can be found in Apendix 6 (1043). All told, this is another excellent volume in the series!

I received this book free from Fortress Press. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review of “Bonhoeffer the Assassin?” by @BakerAcademic on the @AcademicLogos Platform

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1939 in London

Click to Order via Logos

Logos sent along a nice review copy of a new book: Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking. The focus of the review is not so much the argument, which I will get to, but why Logos. I previously shared some pictures of the iPad version.

The point of this review is not so much the content or the argument; however, I can never pass a good argument up. Unfortunately, Nation fails to deliver a solid response to the still-as-yet historical fact that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man who preached pacifism, attempt to kill Hitler. There are, of course, variations on what this meant. Did the German theologian provide care, direction, or even help in planning? Or perhaps he was ready to kill the monster himself. Regardless, this fact does not sit well with those who hold that had Bonhoeffer attempted to kill Hitler, then his preaching is far less reliant than had he not.

I, of course disagree. Regardless of our theological tenets and ethical stances, we must always wrestle with them, especially the face of such cruelty as of that imposed by the Third Reich. If Bonhoeffer had had a chance to kill Hitler — if both men were alone in a room, say — but refused, how much more the moral monster might we think the theologian today rather than the somewhat hypocritical ethicist. Indeed, if we do not wrestle with our positions, we slide into fundamentalism of which the end is always disaster.

Nation, Siegrist, and Umbral argue from silence too often. Rather than taking Eberhard Bethge’s memorys as factual they desire to supplant it with theological expectations. Bethgre was part of the conspiracy. Logic dictates, then, that the testimony of a man this close not only to Bonhoeffer (as student) and to the conspiracy must have some weight. Yet, the only argument put forth by the authors seems to be that we cannot know the facial expressions therefore we really do not know what was said (89). They overrule reasonable plausibility with concern of theological preservation.

I must suggest this book as an exercise in discovering the Historical Jesus.

But, on to the Logos platform. I prefer electronic editions of most things. Indeed, I have the Kindle, iBooks, Goodreader, Inking, Olivetree, and, of course, Logos on my iPad. I like the versatility electronic editions give me as well as the cure for my inability to write in books. With the Logos Bible Software program, I have the ability to not only have an extensive library by my side, whatever my travels, but I have the ability to keep all of my notes and highlights as well. Further, whether I make a note on my iPad, iPhone, or Mac, the note is synced across the library. Of course, this is the same with Kindle and Olivetree, but Logos does something better. With Logos, I can copy and paste into my word processor and expect the correct footnote, with correct page number, to show up.

Logos also provides the timeline feature. For instance, if I am building a timeline of 20th century Christianity, I but need to find the flags next to each mentioned date (available in all resources) and pin them to the timeline. There are existing timelines, but by doing this, I can create a specific one. Not only this, Logos has the excellent search feature, not just for this resource, but so too for all resources. Note, when I search for anything in my library, this will now be among the resources searched.

All in all, if I was going to buy this book, I’d buy it in Logos. As a matter of fact, my first instinct is to always go to Logos because there I have not just the ability to always have it, but the ability to really make use of it.

I have a video review posted:

Here are some pictures from the Mac version:

timeline logos bonoeffer

bib sources bonoeffer logos

Search bonoeffer logos

Inside “Bonhoeffer the Assassin?” by @BakerAcademic on the @AcademicLogos Platform

Logos sent along a nice review copy of a new book: Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking. The focus of the review is not so much the argument, which I will get to, but why Logos.

I have Kindle, iBooks, and Logos. As one who does a lot of reading, as well as research, I like to keep all of my notes and scribbles on one platform. Kindle is fine, but if I had my choice, it will always be Logos. And here is why. Attached are three photos of the inside of the book. The Logos version, if you have the other books mentioned herein, will include links to other books in your library. This is extremely helpful given the amount of books I have.

Further, I really like the set-up of this one in Logos because of the footnotes. The footnotes are honest-to-goodness footnotes. Anyway, have a look:




In the email via @logosacademic and @bakeracademic, Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking

Most of us think we know the moving story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life—a pacifist pastor turns anti-Hitler conspirator due to horrors encountered during World War II—but does the evidence really support this prevailing view? Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking carefully examines the biographical and textual evidence and finds no support for the theory that Bonhoeffer abandoned his ethic of discipleship and was involved in plots to assassinate Hitler. In fact, Bonhoeffer consistently affirmed a strong stance of peacemaking from 1932 to the end of his life, and his commitment to peace was integrated into his theology as a whole.

Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking – Logos Bible Software.

Can’t wait to read it!

Just Arrived From @fortresspress

Thanks to Fortress Press for sending along copies of Interpreting Bonhoeffer: Historical Perspectives, Emerging Issues by Clifford J. Green and Guy C. Carter and Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935-1937: Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 14. I’m excited to start reading both of these books.

Review of @IVPress’s Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture

It is no secret that I enjoy reading Bonhoeffer. I first stumbled across Bonhoeffer during my first year of seminary. We had to read Discipleship as part of our Church History class. I was hooked from page one. I have read several other of Bonhoeffer’s books, including Act and Being, Creation and Fall, Life Together, and Prayerbook of the Bible. I also have several volumes of the English edition of Bonhoeffer’s Works. All that said, I am by no means a Bonhoeffer scholar.

The theme for the 2012 Wheaton Theology Conference was “Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture.” I was pretty bummed that I didn’t get to go, but was excited to see this book was put together. All the contributors to this books were presenters at the Conference that year.

I’m just going to jump in and say that I loved this book as a whole. For the most part, I found the book easy to read and yet well researched. The vast majority of the chapters were enjoyable to read and I even learned more than a few things. The authors themselves come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some of these authors have previously written on Bonhoeffer (Lori Brandt Hale, for example, is the secretary for the International Bonhoeffer Society).

There were a few chapters that stood out to me, most notably Chapter 3, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Christ” by Reggie L. Williams. I will admit, the fact that I enjoyed this chapter as much as I did came as a shock to me. On first glance, I honestly thought this would be one of those chapters that didn’t stand out in one way or another. I’m glad to admit that I was wrong. This was the chapter that I read and reread in the same night because I thought I might have missed something in my first read through. Williams talks about how Bonhoeffer’s exposure to the Harlem Renaissance affected his witness later in Nazi Germany. I found the whole chapter to be fascinating.

The one chapter that I had any real issue with was Chapter 2, “The Evangelical Reception of Dietrich Bonhoeffer” by Timothy Larsen. My biggest complaint with the chapter is not so much the Evangelical reception of Bonhoeffer itself. My biggest complaint is Larsen seems to shake off the charge that Bonhoeffer has been hijacked or co-opted by Evangelicals. The whole discussion of Evangelical co-opting of Bonhoeffer usually involves a book written by Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Larsen cites a review by Clifford Green as just one example of those that charge that Bonhoeffer is being hijacked. What Larsen doesn’t tell you is Clifford Green is the “[f]ounding president of the International Bonhoeffer Society, English Language Section” and that he currently “serves as Executive Director of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works Translations Project.” He has also edited several volumes of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works series. Victoria J. Barnett, another editor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works series, has also reviewed Metaxas’ book and comes to the conclusion that the Bonhoeffer Metaxas presents is not the real Bonhoeffer. There are other reviews out there that state something similar.

I also find it very disingenuous when Larsen writes, “Evangelicals have been able to provide valuable correctives that present a more accurate picture of a complex man and theological legacy. Rather than thinking in terms of co-opting, I would argue that the evangelical attitude towards Dietrich Bonhoeffer is analogous to the evangelical attitude of Augustine of Hippo. Evangelicals like and admire Augustine’s life, thought and writings, but they do not pretend that he was an evangelical in the contemporary American sense of the term.” (51) In what ways have Evangelicals provided “valuable correctives?” Sadly Larsen does not give any examples.

Again, overall, I really enjoyed this book. I’m sure it is one that I will be referring to over and over again.

The Revolution against Violence – Bonhoeffer @theird

Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear … Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Conference Announcement: Bonhoeffer, Christ, and Culture

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was one of the most compelling theologians of the twentieth century. Moreover, his life and writings continue to fascinate and challenge Christians worldwide. The Wheaton Theology Conference will explore Bonhoeffer’s thought and ministry, focusing particularly on his views of Jesus Christ, the Christian community, and the church’s engagement with culture. In the twenty-first century, Bonhoeffer’s legacy is as provocative and powerful as ever.

Go here. You can register and see previous conferences


Bonhoeffer on Religionless Christianity

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - among others - lecturer ...

Image via Wikipedia

Dietrich Bonhoeffer To Eberhard Bethage, April, 1944:

What is bothering me incessantly is the question what Christianity really is, or indeed who Christ really is, for us today. The time when people could be told everything by means of words, whether theological or pious, is over, and so is the time of inwardness and conscience–and that means the time of religion in general. We are moving toward a completely religionless time; people as they are now simply cannot be religious anymore. Even those who honestly describe themselves as “religious” do not in the least act up to it, and so they presumably mean something quite different by “religious.”

Our whole nineteen-hundred-year-old Christian preaching and theology rest on the “religious a priori” of mankind. “Christianity” has always been a form–perhaps the true form–of “religion.” But if one day it becomes clear that this a priori does not exist at all, but was a historically conditioned and transient form of human self-expression, and if therefore man becomes radically religionless–and I think that that is already more or less the case (else how is it, for example, that this war, in contrast to all previous ones, is not calling forth any “religious” reaction?)–what does that mean for “Christianity”? It means that the foundation is taken away from the whole of what has up to now been our “Christianity,” and that there remain only a few “last survivors of the age of chivalry,” or a few intellectually dishonest people that we are to pounce in fervor, pique, or indignation, in order to sell them goods? Are we to fall upon a few unfortunate people in their hour of need and exercise a sort of religious compulsion on them? If we don’t want to do all that, if our final judgment must be that the Western form of Christianity, too, was only a preliminary stage to a complete absence of religion, what kind of situation emerges for us, for the church? How can Christ become the Lord of the religionless as well? Are there religionless Christians? If religion is only a garment of Christianity–and even this garment has looked very different at different times–then what is a religionless Christianity?

The questions to be answered would surely be: What do a church, a community, a sermon, a liturgy, a Christian life mean in a religionless world? How do we speak of God–without religion, i.e., without the temporally conditioned presuppositions of metaphysics, inwardness, and so on? How do we speak (or perhaps we cannot now even “speak” as we used to) in a “secular” way about God? In what way are we “religionless-secular” Christians, in what way are we those who are called forth, not regarding ourselves from a religious point of view as specially favored, but rather as belonging wholly to the world? In that case Christ is no longer an object of religion, but something quite different, really the Lord of the world. But what does that mean? What is the place of worship and prayer in a religionless situation?

The Pauline question of whether [circumcision] is a condition of justification seems to me in present-day terms to be whether religion is a condition of salvation. Freedom from [circumcision] is also freedom from religion. I often ask myself why a “Christian instinct” often draws me more to the religionless people than to the religious, but which I don’t in the least mean with any evangelizing intention, but, I might almost say, “in brotherhood.” While I’m often reluctant to mention God by name to religious people–because that name somehow seems to me here not to ring true, and I feel myself to be slightly dishonest (it’s particularly bad when others start to talk in religious jargon; I then dry up almost completely and feel awkward and uncomfortable)–to people with no religion I can on occasion mention him by name quite calmly and as a matter of course.

The transcendence of epistemological theory has nothing to do with the transcendence of God. God is beyond in the midst of our life. The church stands, not at the boundaries where human powers give out, but in the middle of the village…How this religionless Christianity looks, what form it takes, is something that I’m thinking about a great deal, and I shall be writing to you again about it soon. It may be that on us in particular, midway between East and West, there will fall a heavy responsibility.

To Eberhard Bethage, July 18, 1944:

[Religious man] must therefore live in the godless world, without attempting to gloss over or explain its ungodliness in some religious way or other. He must live a “secular” life, and thereby share in God’s sufferings. He may live a “secular” life (as one who has been freed from false religious obligations and inhibitions). To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself (a sinner, a penitent, or a saint) on the basis of some method or other, but to be a man–not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life.

To Eberhard Bethage, July 21, 1944:

During the last year or so I’ve come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity. The Christian is not a homo religiosus, but simply a man, as Jesus was a man…

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