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Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Bonhoeffer Reader

The only reader to use the new text of the complete Dietrich Bonhoeffer works.
For the first time, a representative collection of all Bonhoeffer's theological works is available in a single volume.  With selections drawn from the newly completed 16 volume Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition, a major 25-year translation project supported by the International Bonhoeffer Society and published by Fortress Press, the Reader presents Bonhoeffer's theological writings in the best available translations.
The Reader is the only collection of Bonhoeffer's writings formatted for easy reference to DBWE and all of their additional resources, making it easier than ever to pursue a more comprehensive study of Bonhoeffer's theological career.

Michael P. DeJonge is associate professor and graduate director in the Religious Studies department at the University of South Florida and the author of Bonhoeffer's Theological Formation.

Clifford J. Green is the executive director of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition and edited several of its volumes. Author of Bonhoeffer: A Theology of Sociality and other Bonhoeffer studies, he is professor of theology emeritus at Hartford Seminary, Connecticut.

My Thoughts:
I have read many books about Bonhoeffer's life and have come across quotes from many of his writings, but must confess that I've never actually read much of his writings...his own words.  Fortress Press has made it easy to do that now with their offering of The Bonhoeffer Reader.
According to Michael P. DeJonge, in a Q&A with Patheos Book Club, "The very things that make DBWE the definitive resource for scholars might not suit the general reader interested in Bonhoeffer the theologian, the beginning student of Bonhoeffer, or readers of recent Bonhoeffer biographies who might want to go deeper. The Bonhoeffer Reader is designed for such an audience. It collects a significant and representative range of Bonhoeffer's theological writings in one convenient and affordable volume."
According to Clifford J. Green, in that same Q&A with Patheos, the most notable features in the book are:  "In one volume, Bonhoeffer's essential theological writings are collected together. The concise editorial introductions to each of the selections are invaluable, setting each selection into Bonhoeffer's life and providing historical context for his writing and its theological significance.
Also, the selection of writings in The Bonhoeffer Reader represents the whole Bonhoeffer—his groundbreaking dissertations, his biblical interpretation (e.g. Discipleship), and his provocative Ethics and theological letters from prison.  But we did not want to overwhelm readers with scholarly details, so we pruned notes with technical information available in DBWE, and added some notes to further clarify the text. And for those who wanted to work on the German Church Struggle and the Resistance conspiracy, we provided an appendix of resources; there's also an extensive bibliography."
The Bonhoeffer Reader is organized somewhat like a text book, but don't let that scare you. The Reader is an invaluable resource for anyone, like me, who wishes to take a closer look at the theology of Bonhoeffer.  The biographies have given us a picture of his life and now we have the opportunity to read the thoughts and beliefs that shaped the way Bonhoeffer lived his days.
The texts from Bonhoeffer are organized chronologically and include excerpts from every major text and every phase of Bonhoeffer's career:
  • Student Writings:  Berlin, Barcelona, New York
  • University Lectures
  • Ecumenical and Pastoral Writings
  • Theology and the Third Reich
  • Christian Life and Community
  • Christian Ethics and Public Life
  • Theology from Prison:  Worldly, Religionless Christianity
You really can't place a value on a resource like this and I highly recommend it for anyone who desires to dig into the theology behind the amazing life and person of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

*Thank you to Emily Varner, freelance Publicist with the Somersault Group, for sending me the complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.