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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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2. Bonhoeffer's Biblical Hermeneutics


Edward van ’t Slot The Freedom of Scripture: Bonhoeffer’s Changing View of Biblical Canonicity Introduction Besides being one of the most important theologians, or maybe even the most important theologian of the 20th century, Karl Barth was definitely one of the most productive theologians of the past century. With an amaz- ing rapidity, he wrote an astonishing amount of lectures, letters, articles, and large volumes, year after year, week after week, almost always excelling in eloquence, profundity, vigour and quality. In 1925, Zwischen den Zeiten published his impressive 30- or 40-page article on the Reformed understand- ing of Scripture, relevant for the present paper. It is an article he had written in only eight days. For this article, Barth had returned to his 1924 Göttingen Lectures on the understanding of Holy Scripture (from the first course in dogmatics he gave during 1924–1926), but those lectures were also con- ceived under high pressure. Moreover, we are quite fortunate in that we have access to another extant version of this article, rewritten for a second time, which appeared as a section of Barth’s first printed edition of the Prolegomena, the Christliche Dogmatik im Entwurf (1927).1 So there are three 1 The first version of this lecture, in the “Göttingen Dogmatics,” is now accessible as § 8 (“Das Schriftprinzip”) in: K. Barth, Unterricht in der christlichen Religion. Erster Band. Prolegomena 1924. Karl Barth Gesamtausgabe (GA) II, ed. by H. Reif fen. Zürich: TVZ 1985, 245–276. I will refer...

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