Posts Tagged ‘Bonhoeffer in America’

Jordan J. Ballor has a good review essay on “Bonhoeffer in America” in the current issue of Christian Scholar’s Review (37:4 Summer 2008, pp 465-82).  He surveys several important works in English (including two newly translated from German) and the latest installments of Bonhoeffer’s Works in English.

The first volume of the new definitive critical edition of Bonhoeffer’s Werke appeared in German in 1986 (the 80th anniversary of the subject’s birth) with the final, index volume (volume 17) arriving in 1999.  The English volumes have been appearing and are nearing completion.  Volume 10 covering the years 1928-31 which Bonhoeffer spent in Barcelona, Berlin, and New York made its debut at the Bonhoeffer Congress in Prague this July.  These editions are a magnificent labor of love and will open a new era in Bonhoeffer studies.

For those tempted to make Bonhoeffer a stone-pillar saint (see letter of August 20, 1943) there is at least address from Barcelona that is disappointing.  Speaking to the German congregation there Bonhoeffer spoke in very nationalistic tones and defended Christian participation in war–even aggressive war of conquest.  That sermon is an embarrassment, but it does remind us that Bonhoeffer had his faults.  His exposure to a wider world in New York, in particular his participation in the Abbysinian Baptist Church and his conversations with Jean Lasserre led him a completely different direction.

Back to the review essay–It doesn’t quite seem right to be focussing on English sources on this site–but for those who are struggling to improve their German, and want to do so through reading Bonhoeffer’s letters, Ballor’s review essay provides a good selection of essential resources to learn more about the person and theologian behind the letters.


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