Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life, Letters, and Papers

Letters and Papers from Prison (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 8)When I purchased my copy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's influential Letters and Papers from Prison, it was a relatively small, paperback book.  I remember reading it and wondering about its implications.  I've not played in its pages for many years, as I loaned it out while I was teaching in Manhattan Kansas and never got it back.  Still, this is a book that has proven influential, offering such ideas as a "religionless Christianity."  Death of God theologians found in it hints of a new way of doing theology.  But other parts of the book offered insights to others.  It was a collection put together by Bonhoeffer's friend and protoge Eberhard Bethge. 

Now, the version that fills the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works has come out and has arrived on my doorstep.  This edition is much expanded, this time including the correspondence from Bethge and others, so one can see the full discussion.  To give you a sense of what has arrived, it comes in at 750 pages of introduction, text, notes, bibliography, and indexes.  I'm not sure if I'll review it, but I thought I'd note its publication.  In addition, I hope to dabble in it over the coming months offering my own interactions with this text, wrestling with Bonhoeffer's fertile mind, that was nurtured by his own experiences in prison as he watched his own culture fall apart.  He envisioned a new world, which would need a new theology if it was to help under gird this transformation.   

But, to open up the conversation, I'd be interested in knowing how this book, in its original format, has been influential to one's life. 

2 comments:

Jim Brehler said...

His notes about the book he began outlining before he was martyred had this question: What do we really believe? I mean, believe in such a way that we would stake our whole lives upon on it?

This was the basis of my ordination paper. His thoughts have been extremely influential in how to LIVE my faith! It also shows that a life of faith is always filled with questioning and challenging, both of one's own thoughts and of God! A faith filled person is truly human!

John said...

Jim,

Brueggemann claims that a life of faith is a life lived in a dialogue with God. A life lived not merely in one sided prayer, nor where we merely stand as mute witnesses, but where we actually participate in a dialogue with God. The faithful are those who 'contend' with God.

John