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God Speaks to Us

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Biblical Hermeneutics


Edited By Ralf K. Wüstenberg and Jens Zimmermann

Bonhoeffer was convinced that God spoke to his people through the Bible. How did a theologian of his caliber, who was well acquainted with the historical-critical interpretation of the scriptures, justify such a claim, and how did he apply this conviction to his daily challenges as theologian, pastor and political dissident during the Nazi regime? This book presents the attempts by a group of international Bonhoeffer scholars to answer some of these questions. By approaching Bonhoeffer’s theology from a number of different hermeneutical angles, the contributions in this volume cast new light both on his more general hermeneutical framework and on specific theological and political issues concerning his reading of the Bible. The essays underline Bonhoeffer’s contemporary relevance for the current resurgence of theological interpretation and for postmodern discussions about the interpretive nature of truth.


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1. Bonhoeffer's Hermeneutics in socio-cultural Context


Johannes Woyke Contemporary Biblical Hermeneutics and Bonhoeffer’s “Theological Exposition” of Scripture A comparative Overview As one who specializes in the fields of biblical studies and, what we call in Germany “the pedagogy of religion,” to give the opening lecture of a conference on Dietrich Bonhoeffer is quite a delicate endeavor – especially if the topic is Bonhoeffer’s biblical hermeneutics. I am neither a Bonhoef- fer specialist, nor do I consider myself an expert on hermeneutics. Never- theless, my foray into Bonhoeffer in preparation for this presentation has convinced me that his hermeneutics are important for contemporary ap- proaches to the interpretation and teaching of the Bible. In order to examine Bonhoeffer’s approach to the Bible in light of con- temporary biblical hermeneutics, I will first present an overview of the cur- rent debate on biblical hermeneutics. In the Anglophone context, which is, arguably, more open to experimenting and less encumbered by ideologi- cal trench warfare, the work of Anthony Thiselton1 will be the center of the discussion. However, within our introductory thoughts here I take as a basis a book by the Heidelberg Old Testament scholar Manfred Oeming, who especially represents the German discussion. Secondly, we will have an initial look at some of Bonhoeffer’s basic hermeneutical principles in his exposition of biblical texts. Eventually this will lead us, in final, third step, to ask whether the current hermeneutical standard can shed new light on Bonhoeffer’s biblical hermeneutics on the one hand, and on the other, 1 See esp. Anthony C....

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