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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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Eva Harasta: Bonhoeffer’s Lutheran Ecclesiology and Inter-Religious Dialogue: A Dogmatic Reading of Bonhoeffer


Eva Harasta Bonhoeffer’s Lutheran Ecclesiology and Inter- Religious Dialogue: A Dogmatic Reading of Bonhoeffer Introduction Bonhoeffer’s legacy has inspired and continues to inspire ethicists in differ- ent contexts. Reading Bonhoeffer with a dogmatic interest, however, may seem counter-intuitive at first glance. While his early writings Sanctorum Communio and Act and Being are clearly dogmatic in method and intent, his later works (beginning with Discipleship and culminating in Ethics) focus on ethics and operate with a decidedly biblical emphasis instead of referring to the dogmatic tradition. Yet it can be shown that Bonhoeffer built on his earlier dogmatic reasoning as he developed his later ethical theology, and that he remained true to this original trajectory. Bonhoeffer’s original and continuing central interest was the clarification of the truth and mandate of the church in the world.1 In order to achieve this objective, he made use of various academic disciplines and methods. In Sanctorum Commu- nio, for instance, he draws on sociological tools for describing sociality, but emphasizes from the start that his interest is dogmatic.2 In Act and Being, he combines philosophical insights into ontology and epistemology with his dogmatic interests. And in a working note to Ethics, he states: “Only recently have people begun to ask again about the foundation of their own 1 Bonhoeffer’s second focus, i.e. Christology, does not contradict or rival his ec- clesiological focus as Bonhoeffer’s Christological interest always manifests itself in the question “Who is Christ for us today?,” thereby connecting Christology with ecclesiology. Cf....

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