Essays on Methods and Understanding
Markus Franz: Inside and Beyond the “Bonhoeffer-Archive”– Foucaultian Reflections on the Discourse of Bonhoeffer’s Life and Theology
Markus Franz Inside and Beyond the “Bonhoeffer-Archive” – Foucaultian Reflections on the Discourse of Bonhoeffer’s Life and Theology “Anyone who has read Eberhard Bethge’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography,” writes Stanley Hauerwas, “knows it is impossible to distinguish between Bonhoeffer’s life and work.”1 Considering the unbroken popularity and importance of “Bonhoeffer,” it is hard to discern which pole – Bonhoeffer’s extraordinary life-story or his radical, yet fragmented theology – is more in- ﬂuential on the so called “Bonhoeffer phenomenon,”2 which we are part of. However one may account for this phenomenon, the close connection and mutual inﬂuence between Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and his theological writings also contain a series of crucial questions for Bonhoeffer research. Given the variety of epistemological presuppositions, the intrinsic meth- odological difﬁculty of approaching both “life” and “work” adequately constitutes a persistent challenge. On the one hand, historical research ap- proaches “Bonhoeffer” with a speciﬁc historical paradigm by trying to shed more light on the social and political circumstances of his life or by show- ing developments in his thoughts. On the other hand, it seems that many theological or philosophical approaches try to yield results that go beyond a historical analysis of Bonhoeffer’s work by synthesizing and systematizing Bonhoeffer’s theological and ethical deliberations. Accordingly many ap- proaches are giving primacy to either the “life” or the “work” of Bonhoeffer and thus create at the least a “methodological slope” and in the worst cases partial or strongly biased readings.3 1 Stanley Hauerwas, Performing the Faith....
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