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Bonhoeffer and Interpretive Theory

Essays on Methods and Understanding


Edited By Peter Frick

How does the contemporary reader make sense of the life and writings of such an icon as Dietrich Bonhoeffer? The essays in this volume seek to address this question by carefully examining the social, cultural, religious and intellectual locations that inform the Sitz im Leben of a vast readership of Bonhoeffer. The focus of each of the essays is thus on the task of articulating and clarifying a hermeneutically self-conscious and responsible approach to interpreting and understanding Bonhoeffer. The authors come from widely divergent backgrounds, both geographically and intellectually, and therefore offer a wide spectrum of dialogue. Methods and approaches examined in the essays discuss themes such as gender, religion, race, ecology, politics, philosophy, literature among others.


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The continued interest and popularity of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the church, academy and beyond stands as a timely reminder that his life and thought still have something important to say to us in the twenty-first century. Bon- hoeffer is one of the rare individuals whose life and writings present such a broad foil against which every reader finds a gem of an idea, thought or event that he or she can grab, hold on to and announce to others. To be fair, in a sense all of Bonhoeffer’s readers have their favourite writing or saying that is extolled above others. Nonetheless, the danger of picking and choosing one’s favourite sayings is two-fold: on the one hand, it reduces the complexity of Bonhoeffer’s thinking and writing to a trivial level, and on the other hand, the reduction to sayings always implies the peril of mis- representation, even if it is non-intentional. In view of the dangers of simplistic reduction and misrepresentation of Bonhoeffer as a person and thinker, the essays in this book have the aim of clarifying the assumptions that readers of Bonhoeffer bring to his texts and his life. The origin of this book goes back to a conversation with Lisa Dahill – one of the contributors in this volume – a few years ago at the an- nual meeting of the International Bonhoeffer Society. In short, in our con- versation we discussed the need for a more reflected approach to reading Bonhoeffer. In the course of our deliberations,...

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