Review of Waiting for the Word: Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Speaking about God

by Frits De Lange, Eerdmans, (1995).

Reviewed by Richard

Frits De Lange’s slim volume is as the book’s subtitle indicates is a study of Bonhoeffer’s approach to theology understood in its basic form of God-talk. From the start while this is a short book I never really got into it and am not sure if i was just not in the mood or because I found the text difficult to read (it is a translated text from Dutch), The main argument of this book is that Bonhoeffer’s theology while becoming more radicalised (and arguably less ecclesiocentric) over time still maintained a strong degree of continuity with his earlier work. Therefore, De Lange claims that the Bonhoeffer of the Letters and Papers are a different Bonhoeffer to Life Together and the earlier Act and Being are wide off the mark. In arguing his case de Lange makes some interesting excursions into Bonhoeffer’s relationship with Barth, the influence of his upper middle class upbringing and especially the influence of his father Karl Bonhoeffer on his understanding of the silence of the Word as well as the relation of modern literary theory to Bonhoeffer’s doctrine of the word. I am not sure the book is worth the cover price but it is a interesting read if you ever discover it going cheaply second hand.

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