Monthly Archives: August 2007

Blogging Bethge links

Here is a link outline for my Blogging through Bethge Series. In looking over these again it occurs to me that at some point I got really serious with this, having started out just as an experiment. I had no idea how much time I’d really have to accomplish it. Then my job changed almost overnight and I had so much more time than I thought. Then I became really invested in it, considering it one of the more monumental things I’ve done with my life. I do plan to review the book after the series. If you notice some glaring errors or just want to help with some insights, please post comments. I haven’t had many of those. My hope is that this, in some small way, will spark new interest in this book, beyond it’s use as a reference within the academic community. This can be a very difficult book for those outside the theological world. I hope musings from an armchair dilettante like me will open new doors.

—Chris L. Rice

 

The “Blogging Bethge” series: A journey through Eberhard Bethge’s monumental biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Part One: The Lure of Theology

1. Childhood and Youth: 1906-1923 pg. 3

2. Student Years: 1923-1927 pg. 45

3. Assistant Pastor in Barcelona: 1928 pg. 97

4. Assistant Lecturer in Berlin: 1929-1930 pg. 125

5. America 1930-1931 p. 147

Part Two: The Cost of Being A Christian

6. Lecturer and Pastor: 1931-1932, pg. 173

7. Berlin: 1933, pg. 257

8. London: 1933-1935, pg. 325

9. Preacher’s Seminary: 1935, pg. 419

10. Finkenwalde: 1936-1937, pg. 493

11. The Collective Pastorates: 1938-1940, pg. 587

Part Three: Sharing Germany’s Destiny

12. Travels: 1940-1943, pg. 681

13. Tegel: 1943-1944, pg. 799

14. In the Custody of the State: 1944-1945, pg. 893

Review of “Anxious Souls Will Ask …”

Review of John W Matthews, Anxious Souls Will Ask … The Christ-Centered Spirituality of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eerdmans, (2005). ISBN: 0802828418.

Bonhoeffer’s prison diary Letters and Papers from Prison was the first writing of his that I had read. More than anything else what first attracted me to his thought was its honesty; the faith that was so important to him was also for Bonhoeffer a source of much doubt and questioning. However, no doubt because of the honesty with which Letters and Papers was written it was also, for me at least, a profoundly unsettling experience. How is one to read Bonhoeffer’s call for a religion-less Christianity in a world come of age, for example.

John W Matthews, a Lutheran Minister in Minnesota, attempts in this short book (it only runs to 80 pages). Matthews argument is that Bonhoeffer theology has strong continuities with his earlier work and that Bonhoeffer’s prison reflections are an important resource in spurring contemporary Christianity to a more authentic faith. In the prison writings of Bonhoeffer Matthews identifies 5 “pillars” which, if appropriated by the contemporary church, will enhance its witness and mission. I will not outline each of these here (the book’s short enough for you to pick these up in one sitting, in any case) other than to say that a key theme that runs through all is the need to the Church to take a ‘reality-check’ and be honest about its own context and vision and, mirroring the mission of God as incarnated in Jesus, take an approach in which suffering and vulnerability are to, if not welcomed then accepted so that, like Jesus, the church may become authentically human.

In the her endorsement printed on the back cover Jean Bethke Elshtain writes that this book is “a powerful and poignant companion to Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison. Newcomers to Bonhoeffer’s text and Bonhoeffer scholars alike will benefit from the fruits of John Matthews’s pilgrimage alongside Bonhoeffer”. There is no doubt that Anxious Souls will Ask … does have some merit but I am afraid that, contrary to Elshtain’s opinion, it is not anything like a “must-read”.

I am not at all sure anyone ho has read even a moderate amount of Bonhoeffer (whether in primary or secondary literature) will find anything of real value. However, for the genuinely beginning reader, particularly one in the immediate cunsettling aftermath of reading the Letters and Papers, then the albeit brief forays into Bonhoeffer’s other theological work will be of assistance even if Matthews is more confident than me of the clear line of continuity that exist between, for example, Life Together and Discipleship with Letters and Papers.

DBW update

 

I’d like to call your attention to the latest book available in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works series, VOLUME 13, from Fortress Press. The following is from the publisher’s press release:

 

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s pastoral sojourn in England from October 1933 to April 1935, which he initially viewed as a withdrawal from the church clashes in Germany, marked instead a new phase in his intensive participation in that struggle. Newly released by Fortress Press, London, 1933-1935: Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 13 provides an almost daily documentation of this deepening engagement against the placid backdrop of his two London pastorates.

Detailing Bonhoeffer’s extensive contacts with German expatriates, ecumenical partners and allies, and friends and family, London, 1933-1935 impressively records both Bonhoeffer’s involvement in the rapidly developing clash with the deutsche Christen and the means by which he pursued it.

The bulk of the material consists of his wide correspondence but also includes records and minutes of his congregational meetings, excerpts from the diaries of Bonhoeffer’s friend and London colleague Julius Rieger, reports from international conferences from 1934, and more than twenty sermons he preached to his London congregations. The wealth of this material, says editor Keith Clements, allows us to experience a dramatic slice of this history and see the many and complex facets of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s personality.

“Beautifully translated, the letters and sermons give us new insights into Bonhoeffer himself.”

Victoria J. Barnett, General Editor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition and Director, Church Relations, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

“Taking its place in what has become a definitive series, this splendid new volume captures Dietrich Bonhoeffer busily at work in a lively new landscape. More than this, it yields a vivid glimpse of that bustling, wider realm of opinion, friendship and endeavour which the crisis of National Socialism provoked beyond the borders of Germany itself. It is surely indispensable.”

Andrew Chandler, Director, the George Bell Institute at the University of Chichester

Editor:

Keith C. Clements served Baptist congregations for ten years before becoming secretary for international affairs in the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland from 1990 to 1997 and general secretary of the Conference of European Churches, Geneva from 1997 to 2005.

London, 1993-1935

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 13

Edited by Keith C. Clements

Translated by Isabel Best

Format: 6” x 9”, hardcover with jacket, 452 pages

ISBN13: 978-0-8006-8313-9

Price: $50.00/ CAN $60.00

Publisher: Fortress Press

 

So here’s a rundown on what’s in print and yet to be made available. The ones with links are available, the others have yet to be released. If I’m not mistaken, Volume 8 will be the last to be published. The Fall 2005 newsletter of the International Bonhoeffer Society reported that:

“The English Edition will also feature a volume 17 as a searchable CD-ROM to include a master index for all volumes, a comprehensive series bibliography, additional glossaries, and searchable texts of all 16 volumes.”

Volume 1 Sactorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church, translation of Sanctorum Communio: Eine dogmatische Untersuchung zur Soziologie der Kirche

Volume 2 Act and Being: Transcendental Philosophy and Ontology in Systematic Theology, translation of Akt und Sein: Transzendentalphilosophie und Ontologie in der systematischen Theologie

Volume 3 Creation and Fall, translation of Schöpfung und Fall

Volume 4 Discipleship, translation of Nachfolge

Volume 5 Life Together, translation of Gemeinsames Leben
and The Prayerbook of the Bible: An Introduction to the Psalms, translation of Das Gebetbuch der Bibel

Volume 6 Ethics, translation of Ethik

Volume 7 Fiction from Tegel Prison, translation of Fragmente aus Tegel

Volume 8 Letters and Papers from Prison, translation of Widerstand und Ergebung

Volume 9 The Young Bonhoeffer: 1918-1927, translation of Jugend und Studium: 1918-1927

Volume 10 Barcelona, Berlin, New York: 1928-1931, translation of Barcelona, Berlin, Amerika: 1928-1931

Volume 11 Ecumenical, Academic and Pastoral Work: 1931-1932, translation of Ökumene, Universität, Pfarramt: 1931-1932

Volume 12 Berlin: 1933, translation of Berlin: 1933

Volume 13 London: 1933-1935, translation of London: 1933-1935

Volume 14 Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935-1937, translation of Illegale Theologenausbildung: 1935-1937

Volume 15 Theological Education Underground: 1937-1940, translation of Illegale Theologenausbildung: 1937-1940

Volume 16 Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, translation of Konspiration und Haft: 1940-1945