Letters and Papers from Prison

Front Cover
Fortress Press, 2010 - Religion - 750 pages
6 Reviews
"Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison has inspired many of us in South Africa and across the world. In these remarkable writings we meet Bonhoeffer at his most vulnerable and human, but also as a man of faith and prayer. Separated from those he loved most, surrounded by destruction, assailed by doubt, and fearing the worst, his hope in Christ remains firm even as his death becomes more certain. And through his profound reflections on what it means to be a Christian he guides us into the twenty-first century. I strongly commend this volume to a new generation of readers."---Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M. Tutu Cape Town, South Africa

"In the tests and trials of imprisonment and imminent death, Bonhoeffer's faith---as belief, as practice, and as theology---is richly illuminated. Indeed, it becomes luminous. It composes his life and his death into an act of integrity and grace that resists interpretation because it so richly interprets itself."---Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead

"The most celebrated case of `engaged theology.' Letters and Papers from Prison has inspired generations of theologians all over the world. Confined in a prison cell and expecting death, Bonhoeffer thought of the Christian faith not as a `religion' offering mere consolation, but as a way of living in the here and now with its great world-historic upheavals and little personal joys and sufferings. May the tribe of the readers of this book increase, and may it stimulate new forms of `engaged theology,' uncompromisingly oriented toward God and genuinely faithful to the earth."---Miroslavvolf, author of Exclusion and Embrace and Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University

Despite Dietrich Bohoeffer's prior theological achievements and writings, it was his correspondence and notes from prison that electrified the postwar world six years after his death in 1945. The materials gathered and selected by his friend Eberhard Bethge in Letters and Papers from Prison not only brought Bonhoeffer to wide and appreciative readership, especially in North America; they also introduced to a broader audience his novel and exciting ideas of "religionless Christianity," his open and honest theological appraisal of Christian doctrine, and his sturdy, if sorely tried, faith in the face of uncertainty and doubt.

This splendid volume, in some ways the capstone of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, presents the full array of Bonhoeffer's 1943-1945 prison letters and theological writings (except his fiction, separately published). The more than 200 documents, composed during his long incarceration, include his extensive correspondence with his family and Eberhard Bethge (much of it in English for the first time), his theological notes, and his prison poems. Along with full research apparatus, the volume offers an illuminating introduction by editor John W. De Gruchy and a historical afterword written by Christian Gremmels, one of the editors of the original German volume.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - deusvitae - LibraryThing

A very difficult work to get through emotionally, especially if you know the background of the circumstances. Bonhoeffer was part of a conspiracy against Hitler and was imprisoned in April 1943 on ... Read full review

User Review  - Marv - Christianbook.com

The letters are very detailed and not the easiest to follow. However, they are interesting. Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Born in 1906 in Breslau, Germany, now part of Poland, Dietrich Bonhoeffer became a radical theologian. He was raised in a home where the intellect was honored. His father was a physician and professor of psychiatry at the University of Berlin. Such scholars as the church historian Adolph von Harnack, the theologian and sociohistorian Ernst Troeltsch, and Max Weber, a founder of modern sociology, were frequent guests of the Bonhoeffers. A precocious student who evidenced a degree of independence of thought that was at odds with the reverence in which his fellow students held their professors, Bonhoeffer decided early on the church and theology as his life's work. He was a product of liberal studies that were greatly influenced by Karl Barth. Bonhoeffer's doctoral dissertation, Sanctorum Communio: A Dogmatic Investigation of the Sociology of the Church, was published in 1930, at the time he was teaching theology at the University of Berlin. A year's study in the United States followed and leadership of the World Alliance of Churches, where his flair for languages and his genial disposition won him many friends. His American and British friends tried unsuccessfully to dissuade him from returning to Germany after the rise of Hitler in 1932. But Bonhoeffer returned, and joining the so-called Confessing Church of those who resisted Germanizing the church, he conducted an illegal seminary in Finkenwalde. Out of this experience came his Life Together; out of his struggles to encourage Christians to resist the Nazis came The Cost of Discipleship, his study of the Sermon on the Mount. Although Bonhoeffer escaped military duty by joining the intelligence service, he was eventually arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo and was linked to the attempt on Hitler's life. His Letters and Papers from Prison (translated in 1953), was his testimony of faith; the writing gave the American death of God movement the term religionless Christianity. Bonhoeffer was killed in 1945 while he was in prison in Flossenburg.

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