Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance

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9780567034007: Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance
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A new comprehensive biography of this hugely important Christian martyr, 60 years after his execution at the hands of the Nazis

Bonhoeffer has gained a position as one of the most prominent Christian martyrs of the last century. His influence is so widespread that even 60 years after his execution by the Nazis, Bonhoeffer's life and work are still the subject of fresh and lively discussion. As a pastor and theologian, Bonhoeffer decided to resist the Nazis in Germany, but his resistance was not solely theological. He played a key leadership role in the Confessing Church, a major source of Christian opposition to Hitler and his anti-Semitism and was principal of the secret seminary at Finkenwalde in Pomerania.

It was here that he developed his theological visions of radical discipleship and communal life. In 1938, he joined the Wehrmacht's "Abwehr", the German Military Intelligence Office, in order to seek international support for the plot against Hitler. Following his inner calling and conscience meant that Bonhoeffer was continually forced to make decisions that separated him from his family, friends, and colleagues, and which ultimately led to his martyrdom in Flossenbürg concentration camp, less than a month before the Second World War came to an end. His letters and papers from prison movingly express the development of some of the most provocative and fascinating ideas of 20th century theology.

Sixty years after Bonhoeffer's death and forty years after the publication of Eberhard Bethge's ground breaking biography, Ferdinand Schlingensiepen offers a definitive new book on Bonhoeffer, for a new generation of readers. Schlingensiepen takes into account documents that have only been made accessible during the last few years - such as the letters between Bonhoeffer and his fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer. Schlingensiepen's careful narrative brings to life the historical events, as well as displaying the theological development of one of the most creative thinkers of the 20th century, who was to become one of its most tragic martyrs.

 

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About the Author:

Dr Ferdinand Schlingensiepen is one of the Founders of the International Bonhoeffer Society. His father was principal of one of the seminaries of the Confessing Church. As a theologian and pastor, Schlingensiepen was a close friend of Eberhard Bethge. He has published widely on Bonhoeffer, Heinrich Heine and the German novelist, Theodor Fontane.

Review:

"[Bonhoeffer] came from a cultured and musical family which choose- unlike the Wagner clan at Bayreuth, for instance- the painful road of opposition to National Socialism. The author of this new biography understands this Kulturkampf from within." www.energypubisher.com

'When the last paragraph is finished, the reader is left with the sadness that such a grand Christian should have had his life so brutally ended, but also with a feeling of strange warmth in the fact of the great strength, the hope and faith and love of the Lord Jesus whom Bonhoeffer served so loyally...Read this book and walk with him.'
- Methodist Recorder, January 2010

"An important contribution to our understanding of the period." The Catholic Herald, January 2010

'Admirable work ... Bonhoeffer's correspondence with his fiance, the talented and spirited Maria von Wedemeyer, which was not available to Bethge [Bonhoeffer's previous biographer]. deepens and humanizes the portraiture.'
Church Times, June 2010
Review in East Riding News, July 2010

Reviewed in Church of England Newspaper, 10th September 2010

In fact, there are a number of excellent biographies that offer an account of Bonhoeffer's life that is both thorough and engagingly readable....that captures the full sweep of his remarkable story. The best is Ferdinand Schlingensiepen's Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance published in translation by T & T Clark/Continuum. Ferdinand Schlingensiepen worked closely with Bethge and served on the editorial board of the 16 volume Bonhoeffer Werke. A nice bonus: He got permission from the Bonhoeffer family to print previously unpublished photographs. (Charles Marsh)

Like all biographies of Bonhoeffer the reader cannot but turn the final page and ponder the 'what ifs' of human history. How might his life, theology in the 20th century and the Church of Jesus Christ today be different had Bonhoeffer survived until the Allies liberated Flossenbürg a few weeks later? But Bonhoeffer himself would have shunned such wishful and fanciful thinking: his search was for the concrete word for the moment, 'who is the Christ for us today?' Schlingensiepen's biography deftly reveals the theological, political and personal urgency of a man on such a quest and it does so while paying great attention to the context in which he lived. His book will be both an invaluable resource to the libraries of scholars and a popular addition to the shelves of readers with a more general interest. It deserves to be both widely and deeply read. Craig Gardiner, Regent's Reviews
(Craig Gardiner)

The time is long overdue for a good, shorter biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that has the depth and scope of the Bethge biography. Schlingensiepen has written it. His is accurate, thoughtful, and shows a solid grasp of the history of the churches under National Socialism — not surprising, since the author's father was himself active in the Confessing Church. That's important for understanding Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a person, for he was very much a product of his religious tradition and training as well as its most provocative critic and visionary. The portrayal of Bonhoeffer's role in the Confessing Church (and his conflicts with it) is fascinating. The newer documents that have come to light since the Bethge biography, particularly the correspondence between Bonhoeffer and his fiancee, are referenced, giving more glimpses of Bonhoeffer's personal development. This is a fine biography and important background reading for anyone who is reading Bonhoeffer's theological classics — for it shows the life from which these classics emerged. - Victoria Barnett, General Editor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in English (Victoria Barnett)

First published in German in 2005, this sustentative biography represents the fruit of a lifetime devotion to the preservation and consideration of Bonhoeffer's theological legacy on the part of its author. Schlingensiepen provides a deft, lively and richly detailed narrative which, drawing judiciously from the primary sources and a wealth of related scholarship, sympathetically unfolds the movement of Bonhoeffer's life and traces the development of his theological and political-ethical thinking. — Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen, UK (Philip G. Ziegler)

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