Bonhoeffers Theological Formation: Berlin, Barth, and Protestant Theology

Hardcover | March 15, 2012

byMichael P. DeJonge

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer's dramatic biography, a son of privilege who suffered imprisonment and execution after involving himself in a conspiracy to kill Hitler and overthrow the Third Reich, has helped make him one of the most influential Christian figures of the twentieth century. But before hewas known as a martyr or a hero, he was a student and teacher of theology. This book examines the academic formation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theology, arguing that the young Bonhoeffer reinterpreted for a modern intellectual context the Lutheran understanding of the 'person' of Jesus Christ. Inthe process, Bonhoeffer not only distinguished himself from both Karl Barth and Karl Holl, whose dialectical theology and Luther interpretation respectively were two of the most important post-World War I theological movements, but also established the basic character of his own 'person-theology.' Barth convinces Bonhoeffer that theology must understand revelation as originating outside the human self in God's freedom. But whereas Barth understands revelation as the act of an eternal divine subject, Bonhoeffer treats revelation as the act and being of the historical person of Jesus Christ. Onthe basis of this person-concept of revelation, Bonhoeffer rejects Barth's dialectical thought, designed to respect the distinction between God and world, for a hermeneutical way of thinking that begins with the reconciliation of God and world in the person of Christ. Here Bonhoeffer mines aLutheran understanding of the incarnation as God's unreserved entry into history, and the person of Christ as the resulting historical reconciliation of opposites. This also distinguishes Bonhoeffer's Lutheranism from that of Karl Holl, one of Bonhoeffer's teachers in Berlin, whose location ofjustification in the conscience renders the presence of Christ superfluous. Against this, Bonhoeffer emphasizes the present person of Christ as the precondition of justification. Through these critical conversations, Bonhoeffer develops the features of his person-theology - a person-concept ofrevelation and a hermeneutical way of thinking - which remain constant despite the sometimes radical changes in his thought.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer's dramatic biography, a son of privilege who suffered imprisonment and execution after involving himself in a conspiracy to kill Hitler and overthrow the Third Reich, has helped make him one of the most influential Christian figures of the twentieth century. But before hewas known as a martyr or a hero, he was a st...

Michael P. DeJonge is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.98 inPublished:March 15, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199639787

ISBN - 13:9780199639786

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Table of Contents

1. Between Berlin and Barth2. The Problem of Act and Being3. The Challenge of Barth's Theology4. God is Not Subject but Person: Bonhoeffer's Alternative to Barth5. The Lutheran Provenance of Bonhoeffer's Alternative6. Evaluating Bonhoeffer's Alternative7. Claiming the Lutheran Tradition8. The Academic Roots of Bonhoeffer's Ethical TheologyConclusion