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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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3. Interpreting Bonhoeffer's Hermeneutics


Paul R. Hinlicky Verbum Externum: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Bethel Confession* Introduction There is reason today to remember the Bethel Confession (hereafter BC), Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s aborted project for the renewal of the 16th Century Reformation confession against the German Christian heresy. In August of 1933 Bonhoeffer directed a working group on this project along with Hermann Sasse and in large part authored the document.1 In the words of Walter Sparn, Bonhoeffer “pleaded for a contemporary updating of the traditional Confessions, and for the never-ending process of interpretation and appropriation of Holy Scripture relying on its self-interpretation – non vi sed verbo. He himself initiated a new confession, the Bethel Confession […]”2 Klaus Scholder wrote in 1977: “the original version of the BC re- * Originally presented as a lecture at 5th International Bonhoeffer Colloquium, 22–23 July, 2011 at Flensburg University, Germany. I am grateful to Prof. Mi- cha el Dejonge for helpful criticism he made as a respondent and to Dr. Jens Zim merman for helpful editorial suggestions. 1 This study is limited to the August redrafting of an initial outline by Bonhoeffer and Sasse, which for convenience we will simply call “the Bethel Confession.” The two versions are printed side-by-side in English translation in Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Berlin: 1932–1933, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 12 ed. L. Rassmussen, Minneapolis: For tress, 2009, 374–424 and all quotations of the BC are taken from this edition. Chris ti ne-Ruth Müller, Bekenntnis und Bekennen: Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Bethel (1933): Ein luthe rischer Versuch. M...

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